China has 840,000 members in 8 non-Communist parties

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About 840,000 people are currently members of the eight non-Communist parties in China, said a senior Communist Party of China (CPC) official Wednesday.

Zhang Xiansheng, spokesman for the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee, told a press conference that these parties are "friends" of the CPC.

"Unlike in other systems, these parties are not the opposition. Rather, they participate in the administration of state affairs," he said.

These eight non-Communist parties had only around 10,000 members when New China was founded in 1949. The figure climbed to more than 60,000 when the country started reform and opening-up in the late 1970s, he said.

China now has nine political parties, including the CPC and eight non-Communist parties.

The country's current political system of multi-party cooperation has "a wide coverage," Zhang said, adding that "besides the existing parties, it is unnecessary to establish new parties" as each of the nine political parties has their special coverage.

The CPC's members include workers, farmers, military personnel, intellectuals as well as private business owners, lawyers and accountants, while the eight other parties mainly attract people from the middle and upper classes, Zhang said.

In response to a reporter's question on whether the eight non-Communist parties could "make their own decision in selecting members," Wu Xiaoli, director of the department in charge of non-Communist party affairs under the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee, said these parties sometimes "ask the CPC to give introductions on a few intellectuals," but they decide themselves on the selection of their members.

"The CPC does not force these parties (to select certain members)," said Chen Xiqing, deputy head of the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee, at Wednesday's press conference.

Chen said in cases these parties have no grass-roots branches in certain organizations, or they do not know much about certain people they want to have as their members, they may ask the CPC to provide some information.

China's political system also includes people without party affiliation, which is "an important part of the country's multi-party cooperation in attracting people of some social class that cannot be covered by the CPC or the eight non-Communist parties," said spokesman Zhang Xiansheng.

These non-politically affiliated people are all "influential intellectuals or professionals who have made great social contributions," he said.

Prominent people without party affiliation include Yuan Longping,"father of super hybrid rice," Justin Yifu Lin, chief economist and senior vice president of the World Bank and Minister of Health Chen Zhu.

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