Thursday, November 08, 2012


The electoral process is underway right now in CHINA.  Like in the USA there is one party with different wings.  Unlike in the USA, they admit that up front.

The 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is underway now in Beijing. The congress is expected to make strategic arrangements for the overall advancement of China’s reform and opening up, the country’s socialist modernization drive and the overall advancement of the new grand project of the Party building.

The Central Leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) actually seems somewhat aware of the problems they and China both face.  They know that income disparity, the environment, transparancy, social unrest, unemployment,  effective urbanisation and corruption are real issues they need to deal with.  The question is will they, and if they do, how will they.

During his opening address to the Congress, outgoing President Hu Jintao cited the widening divide among the rich and the poor, the imbalances among the burgeoning cities and the struggling countryside. Hu also stressed the need to curb personal greed and called for better discipline.
"Nobody is above the law...," Hu said, and added, "If we fail to handle this issue well, it could prove fatal to the party, and even cause the collapse of the party and the fall of the state."

A survey of Chinese citizens conducted by  Tony Saich of  Harvard University came up with some intersting results.  Those surveyed express high levels of satisfaction with the central government, but satisfaction declines with each lower level of government. While in 2009, 95.9 per cent were either relatively or extremely satisfied with the central government, this dropped to 61.5 per cent at the local level (still pretty high by US standards).  As the site, In Praise of China, points out this is something that the CPC needs to take note of because, 

In China, local governments provide almost all public services and the fact that satisfaction levels decline as one gets closer to the people is a worrying sign.

While the consequences of these findings may raise concerns about the quality of local governance, it is not necessarily bad news for the central government. In 2009, 30 per cent of respondents thought that their officials were incompetent, and 40 per cent that they just looked after their own interests. Corruption is always ranked as the biggest problem. The low levels of satisfaction might be an indicator of possible social instability, but the survey suggests that citizens do not see the problem as lying with the central government but rather with poor implementation at the local level or the incompetence or venality of local officials.

The CPC has opened up the internet to citizens wanting to make proposals and comments to the Congress. and already more than 4.5 million have done so.  The China Daily reports:

 The three web portals namely, and have been officially entrusted by the CPC Central Committee to solicit public opinions for the 18th CPC National Congress scheduled to open on Thursday, Cai Mingzhao, spokesman for the congress, said at a press conference.

Most of the re-tweets on these web sites pin hopes on the congress, to be attended by more than 2,000 delegates representing the Party's 82 million members, to tackle corruption, wealth gap, price hikes, income distribution, and the improvement of people's livelihood.

Meanwhile, the CPC itself now includes almost 83 million members. The number is more than the population of England or France, and almost the population of Germany.  According to the China Daily:

 Statistics show there are 20.62 million CPC members under the age of 35, making up 25 percent of the total. 31.91 million CPC members with college degree or above, making up 38.6 percent of the total.

Some 200,000 college graduates serving as grassroots village officials will have four delegates for the first time. More people representing the 240 million migrant workers in China have also been given a voice.

 Migrant worker Cheng Junrong from Jiangsu province was elected a delegate of 18th CPC National Congress in August 2012. He and 25 other migrant worker delegates will step into the Great Hall of the People on Nov 8, when the 18th CPC National Congress begins. It is considered a symbol that migrant workers are becoming part of the political scene.

 The number of CPC members working for private enterprises is also increasing. In 2002, seven private enterprise owners were elected as delegates of 16th CPC National Congress, 17 delegates in 17th CPC National Congress in 2007, and 27 in 18th CPC National Congress this year. According to statistics, at the end of 2011, some 983,000 private enterprises, 26,500 social organizations and 27,400 private non-enterprise organizations have Party organizations, welcoming talented people joining the CPC at any time.

Several CPC members working for new economic organizations and social organizations have also been voted delegates.

Somehow, if you have to have a Party which is supposed to be all about the working class, it would be nice if you could have more than a handful of workers themselves at your Party Congress.   You ought to be able to find some way to, at least,  represent the Party members at the Party Congress.  In fact, you ought to be able to find a way to allow for the Party membership to have a real say in the direction of the Party and the country.   As the post below will show, if you spend a minute thinking about it, this isn't being done either.

Rather, as we have seen in every vanguard party around the world, the number of actual workers represented at the Party Congress although increasing in the CPC is very low.   Of the 2,270 delegates to the 18th CPC National Congress, the percentage of workers  has increased all the way  to 7.4 percent. Their number grows from 51 five years ago to 169, including 26 farmer-turned workers.  The number of leading officials at different levels accounts for 69.5 percent of the total delegates to the 18th Party congress, 2.1 percentage points lower than that at the previous congress. Like in every vanguard party the working class is supposed to depend on others outside their class to represent their interests.   Good luck with that.

The following is from Offbeat China.

Who are the Chinese Communist Party?

What comes to mind when you hear the word “the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)”? The Party that produces nothing but corrupt officials? The Party that rules the world’s biggest authoritarian country? The Party that lifts million of people out of poverty? Or the Party that leads China on route to become a world power? That answer can be difficult. But a simpler answer is that the Chinese Communist Party is one that is comprised of thousands of Chinese people, most of which look no different than an ordinary Chinese people anyone can run into on the streets of Bejing, Shanghai, Xi’am, Chongqing or any other city in China. “Who are they?” is sometimes a more important question to ask than “what is the CCP?”

According to China’s Organization Department, China has a total of 82.602 million party members as of the end of 2011, a number that is nearly as big as the population of the UK and France combined. In China, approximately one out of fifteen is a party member. A party member is much more likely to be a Han male aged 35+ who doesn’t have a college degree and works as a farmer. Not exactly an image that many people have in mind when criticizing the corrupted CCP, isn’t it?

The skewness towards certain demographics aside, the sheer number of CCP members in China makes one wonder whether the discussions of China and its problems should pick up a different rhetoric. CCP, as a faceless united whole, is an easy target. But at the end of the day, it’s those party members that can make a difference to the Party and to China. The third-person effect may be an appropriate analogy here. More often than not, especially on the Chinese Internet, people blame “the Party” for problems in China. When doing so, no one exactly has their party-member family members or friends in mind. But what these over 82 million party-member “family and friends” look like, if put together, is what the CCP will look like and what China will look like.

Hanhan, China’s most popular blogger, once commented in a post titled “On democracy” at the beginning of the year [Translated by ESWN]:

“Today, the Chinese Communist Party has 80 million members. 300 million persons live in families which have members with party membership. The Party is no longer just a political party or a class. Therefore, many of the flaws of the Communist Party are also the flaws of the people. I believe that a very strong one-party-system is the same as a no-party system. When the party organization reaches a certain size, it becomes the people itself. So the issue is not to deal with the Communist Party this way or that. The Communist Party is just a name. The system is just a name. If you change the people, everything changes. Therefore, it is more important to seek improvement. Rule of law, education, culture … there are the basics.”

No comments: