Communist Party organizations play important role in China's private enterprises

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Yang Jianzhong stares a dauntingly high stack of 3,000 applications for Communist Party of China (CPC) membership. As the Communist Party secretary at a private photovoltaic company, it's his job to deal with these applications.

"They are all qualified, but the quota is limited," said Yang, whose company run by "capitalists" excels not only in market competition but also "party building."

Yingli Solar, China's largest photovoltaic producer--boasting some 20 subsidiaries and a staff of 12,000--has registered a ten-fold increase in its party membership in three years.

Currently the company has 839 party members, 4.9 percent of its total staff, compared to 82 members in 2008, when the company first established a party committee. Among its 28 senior managers, 15 are CPC members.

The CPC has all along attached great importance to "party building," but previously the overwhelming majority of party organizations were based at traditional strongholds such as government agencies and state-owned enterprises, but now party organizations are becoming more prevalent in the private sector.

Such a trend was enabled by philosophical changes of the CPC. In November 2002, "The Three Represents" was coded into the Party Constitution at the 16th Party Congress, which required the CPC to represent the development trend of China's advanced productive forces, the orientation of the advanced culture and the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people.

Accordingly, party membership has been broadened to absorb outstanding personnel from the new social strata.

President Hu Jintao, also the general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, last year urged efforts to build grassroots party organizations in all social sectors to realize "universal coverage" of party organizations.

Statistics provided by Zhejiang Provincial Party Committee showed that, in the province alone, party organization had made its way into 66,000 non-public enterprises. The plan's objective is that all private companies with more than 80 staff members will set up party organizations by the end of the year.

Li Zongwei, the executive director and chief financial officer of Yingli, said the company, through party building, can learn good governance from the CPC.

He believes that running a company has much in common with running a country, and the CPC is running the nation well.

"We are not trying to win a "red hat" by establishing party organizations in our company," said Li, claiming that their party building efforts were not made to woo political favor.

Li said party building has helped them to weather the international financial crisis.

Yingli Solar was listed on New York Stock Exchange in June 2007, and its stock price began to plummet in September 2008 due to the fallout of subprime mortgage crisis.

Yang said the company struggled as it found it difficult to get financing either at home or abroad, and the company stood on the brink of being merged.

Yingli then organized a forum called "Scientific Outlook on Development," inviting party cadres in the financial sector across the nation. Yang said party building provided them a platform.

"The forum paid off in that it not only boosted the morale of our staff, but also showcased Yingli's strength to lenders and stockholders," Yang said.

In the ensuing 15 months from the end of 2008 to 2009, Yingli received a loan of 11 billion yuan, as well as a loan from Export-Import Bank of China, Yang said.

An expert with the research committee on party organizations in the non-public sector who asked to be anonymous, said party organizations in private companies help soften internal conflicts, safeguard employees' rights and interests, thereby promoting the healthy growth of these companies.

Wang Yuesen, party secretary of Shijiazhuang Tiedao University, said instituting party organizations in non-public enterprises would help accommodate rights and interests of various groups within the company.

Statistics from the Organizational Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee showed that the number of grassroots party organizations had increased from 2.12 million in 1978 to 3.79 million by the end of 2009. There are nearly 80 million party members in total.

Despite the increase, party membership is no low-hanging fruit. To be a party member, one has to be exceptional and to go through a procedure that usually requires for two years that includes party education and a probationary period.

Yang Jianzhong glances at the mountain of applications on his desk. "I've got a tough job ahead of me," he says.

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