China's Communist Party is finding the country's universities remain fertile recruiting grounds as post secondary students who have a deep patriotic bent continue to commit to the party, which in turn can help kickoff their careers and serve as an outlet to do good social deeds.
While almost 2.5 million people where allowed to join the Party last year -- about a quarter of those who applied -- the number of students joining the Party increased at more than double the overall rate to reach 734,000 in 2005.
Statistics from the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee show that China now has 70.8 million Party members. The number of younger people -- those under the age of 35 -- account for 23 percent of the membership.
Twenty percent of Tsinghua University's undergraduates have earned their CPC membership with that percentage jumping to 50 percent of graduate students.
Liu Minhua, a teacher in charge of the Party affairs of the Department of Automation in Tsinghua, said more young people are joining the Party as they see it as an organization that gathers the best minds.
"The reason I joined the Party is simply because I love my country," said Wang Jianrong, a Tsinghua student who became a Party member two years ago. It took him two years to prove his worthiness.
"Some of my classmates think the Communist Manifesto is a little bit abstract, but they believe the Party led the Chinese people to the founding of new China and the construction of a modern country," he said.
To better understand the Party, Wang turned to the works of Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels, the fathers of communist thought. Wang says a third of the students who are Party members have used their own time to make a detailed study of the manifesto.
Wang Hongtao, a Party member enrolled in graduate studies at the Media Institute of Beijing University, said candidates for Party membership have to follow strict procedures before they get their cards.
At Beijing University, special courses are set up for students wanting to join the Party. Candidates are required to learn Party history, listen to lectures from veteran Party members, take part in discussion groups and finally be tested on their knowledge. They also have to be very good at their school work and their application has to be endorsed by classmates and teachers.
Liao Wang, president of the student union of Beijing University, said one of the reasons that students join the Party is to show they are among the best students.
"Employers quite often recruit Party members from graduating classes, as they believe Party members are the top students," he added.
Not all good students join the Party as some hesitate because of the stories they've heard about corruption.
Tsinghua University's Party affairs official, Liu, said student who are Party members often raise tough questions and then they try to sort them out. He says there is a lot of talk about how to curb corruption and improve democracy within the Party.
"What they think about is right, and their thoughts are a breath of fresh air for the Party," he said.
For a great many students, being a Party member isn't all about heavy political thought. Party members among the student body also devote themselves to social work, Liu said. They often visit hospitals to care for the elderly, help clean up public places or memorials or volunteer their time to China's Red Cross Society.
Liu says by participating in social work, the young people, most of whom come from single-child families and may have been a bit spoiled, begin to recognize their social responsibility and come to understand the Party's principle of serving people, Liu said.
The CPC celebrates the 85th anniversary of its founding on July 1.
(Xinhua News Agency June 30, 2006)