Quality over quantity. Less is more.
Those have been the watchwords of the Chinese Communist Party ever since its top leaders declared in early 2013 that its membership would be controlled in a bid to improve the organization’s “vigor and vitality.”
In a communique released Tuesday, the Organization Department of the Communist Party’s Central Committee said that the party boasted 87.793 million members as of the end of 2014. The figure – which exceeds the entire population of Germany – represents a net increase of 1.1 million from a year earlier.
China is in the midst of a sweeping anti-graft campaign under President Xi Jinping, with announcements of corrupt officials’ investigation and ouster from the party a near-weekly occurrence. Along with that crackdown has come a steady stream of warnings for party members to rein in behavior ranging from their mahjong playing to the use of terms like “dude” or “boss” when addressing their superiors.
At its heart is the pursuit of the party’s survival. Xi and other top leaders have made a point of reminding cadres that the Chinese Communist Party must avoid the same pitfalls that brought about the demise of the former Soviet Union – particularly disloyalty to Communist ideals – with some Chinese scholars warning that the Soviet collapse came when the ranks of its Communist Party had swollen to an unwieldy 19 million, or nearly 10% of the Soviet Union’s adult population.
The membership of the Chinese Communist Party currently stands at about 7.8% of China’s adult population.
Yet despite a vow by China’s Politburo leaders to limit the party’s size and purge “unqualified members,” statistics released by the Organization Department show that membership has actually grown over each of the past four years, albeit at an increasingly slower rate.