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Having gone through 95 years of development, the CPC has seen a variety of changes in the distribution and make-up of its membership along with the country's economic and social development. As signs of optimization, the Party is getting younger, wealthier and more educated. Meanwhile, however, dwindling members from the bottom of society and the slackness in management of grass-roots Party branches are posing challenges to the Party's administration.|
Communist Party of China members review their vows of joining the Party in Hongyan township, Sichuan Province, June 21. Photo: IC
Though a month has passed, Yang Shuai, a construction worker from Southwest China's Guizhou Province, is still very excited about formally joining the world's largest political party, the Communist Party of China (CPC).
Yang, 33, has been working as a scaffolder for more than 10 years in Jimo, north of Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province. He has a reputation for being a hard worker, and has helped hundreds of men from his hometown earn money by arranging construction jobs for them. Despite his good standing in his community, he never thought he would be able to join the Party while working on a construction site in another province.
"I've been traveling outside for work, so it is hard for the Party branch in my village to track my behavior regularly. And previously there was no Party organization for Party admission at the construction site," Yang told the Global Times.
His chance came in April last year, when the Party committee of the construction bureau of Jimo started to establish Party branches in construction sites across the city to organize "drifting" Party members and to encourage more workers to join the CPC. Yang and five others became the first Party members to be accepted into the Party through one of these branches in April.
"Through this we try to enhance the management of the used-to-be drifting Party members, to ensure they can join activities and keep consistent with the Party, as well as attracting more excellent workers to the Party," Li Fang, who is in charge of Party development at the Jimo construction bureau, told the Global Times.
What Jimo is doing aims to help the structure of the CPC adapt to an increasingly mobile labor force and the flow of people from China's countryside to its cities.
Statistics from the Organization Department of the CPC (ODCPC) show that in recent years the distribution and make-up of Party membership has changed in recent years as the country transforms.
Urban areas have become the key growth areas for CPC membership with members becoming more educated, and at the same time the management of Party members in the countryside is increasingly unable to cope with changing patterns of work in China. In addition, a lot of Party members now work for small firms that do not have their own Party branches.
It has been claimed that slackness in the management of grass-roots Party members will harm the cohesiveness of the Party and weaken members' faith in the CPC, as many members drift away from regular Party activities, learning and supervision.
Perhaps more worryingly for the CPC leadership, though the Party has always portrayed itself as worker-peasant movement and grass-roots Party organizations have always been its foundation, losing its grip on ordinary members and the CPC's declining ability to attract rural and urban working class members may hit the Party's argument for its own legitimacy.
"The changes are in line with society's development, but they pose management challenges to the Party," Zhang Xixian, a professor from the Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC, told the Global Times.