Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, March 03, 2014

What's the Party good for?

Once again, the easy, simplistic answer might not describe the truth.

Students and the party: Rushing to join

UNIVERSITIES in China are home to a strange mix of political emotions. To the Communist Party’s deep concern, many young lecturers have little enthusiasm for Marx, whose ideas are still officially supposed to “guide” intellectual life on campuses. Many students, by contrast, are desperate to join the Communist Party; recruitment levels are at an all-time high. Ideology plays little part.

In 1989, after the Chinese army crushed student-led protests in Tiananmen Square, enthusiasm on campus for joining the party plunged, as did the party’s eagerness to recruit there. In the following year only 26,000 swore the oath of admission... In 2010 more than 1.2m students joined, about 40% of the total (see chart)...

In 1997 just over 4% of undergraduates were party members. Within a decade the proportion had doubled...

This has little to do with communist zeal. The interest in membership is a byproduct of the expansion of college enrolment, which has created a glut of graduates in the job market. Public-sector employers usually prefer party members and often require membership for better positions. Demand for government-linked jobs has been growing thanks to the relatively generous benefits and security they offer.

In a survey of graduates from 12 universities, it found the employment rate within two months of graduation was 85% for non-members and about 80% for members... Only at vocational colleges did the party members appear to have an advantage, with 96% of them gaining work within two months, compared with 90% of non-members...

In competition for jobs at state-owned enterprises (SOEs), which are among the most coveted of all, a lack of party membership appears to be no bar. More than 21% of non-members surveyed got work at SOEs, compared with just under 20% of party members. That could be a recognition by SOEs that ability trumps political loyalty for entry-level jobs. But meritocracy extends only so far: the party still keeps the top slots for its own.

The Fifth Edition of What You Need to Know is a thorough review guide to Comparative Government and Politics.


Just The Facts! can help organize your knowledge as you review for the big exam.


Know what next week's lesson plans are? What You Need to Know: Teaching Tools, v2.0 can help figure that out.

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