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Entrepreneurs slowly joining CCP

By Willy Wo-Lap Lam
CNN Senior China Analyst

A recent study finds a slow but steady growth in non-state entrepreneurs joining the CCP.
A recent study finds a slow but steady growth in non-state entrepreneurs joining the CCP.

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(CNN) -- Relatively few private businessmen have joined the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) despite the elevated economic and social status being accorded non-state-sector entrepreneurs.

A just-published survey by official units including the United Front Department and the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce found that only 11.1 percent of "red capitalists" had any interest in party affiliation.

Many respondents to the survey expressed reservations about the "excessively strict discipline" of the party, adding that a CCP membership would only mean more taboos and restrictions.

The minority of business who have signed up admitted that they wanted the political protection and social status that come with party membership.

However, the number of non-state entrepreneurs who are party members -- estimated at close to 150,000 -- has been steadily growing since former CCP chief Jiang Zemin formally announced in mid-1992 that the party was opening its doors to members of the "new classes."

The same survey showed that last year, 29.9 percent of private businessmen were party members, as against only 13.1 percent in 1993.

However, 94 percent of such party badge-carrying businessmen had joined the CCP before they became businessmen, for example, when they were in college or working in government units.

Political analysts in Beijing said Fourth Generation leaders such as President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao were anxious to induct more business executives into the CCP.

They said members of the "new classes" such as entrepreneurs and professionals tended to be more sympathetic to reform programs in both economic and political fields.

And more provincial and municipal administrations have already recruited businessmen and professionals -- including non-CCP affiliated ones -- into government think tanks as advisers.

It is believed that Hu wants to promote political pluralism and democratic decision-making without adopting "Western institutions" such as universal-suffrage elections.

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