Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, February 03, 2012

Party cells in private organizations

I grew up in the Cold War '50s. There were frequent warnings about Soviet Communist cells within American institutions. As a kid I had the sense that fear of those secret groups of spies pervaded the country. Of course, then I went out and ran around the neighborhood looking for spies. I have no idea how many cells of Commie spies were ever found. In China today, the cells are not secret and the Party would like them to be everywhere.

Even in the state-owned danwei of the old days in the Peoples Republic, management was always observed and evaluated by Communist Party cells in the organization. How do you keep that system working in non-public institutions?

Where’s the party?
WHEREAS many urbanites devour Chinese editions of Western magazines like Cosmopolitan, GQ, and Vogue, some officials still peruse weightier titles. In December a dozen Communist Party officials gathered in the eastern city of Hangzhou to celebrate the first anniversary of an alluring journal, Party Construction in Non-State-Owned Enterprises… The journal in question, as its title suggests, is engaging with the tricky issue of how the Communist Party can maintain influence within a growing private sector…

Over the past decade a priority of the party’s secretive Organisation Department (it handles personnel issues for the 80m-strong party, yet has no listed telephone number) has been to form party cells in private businesses, or “new economic organisations” as the official literature calls them…

As party officials see it, setting up branches in the private sector is about more than just proving that a once-revolutionary party is still in touch with the masses. At a time of rapid social change and outbreaks of unrest, officials hope the new party branches will reinforce stability and keep the party abreast of potential trouble…

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