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The Communist Party of China, in numbers
On the occasion of the 101st anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, this newsletter will offer you some latest figures about the party.
Since 2013, unveiling the party's stats just before July 1 has become somewhat of an annual tradition for the CPC Organization Department. This year’s numbers were unveiled on June 29 and reflected the party’s members and structure status as of the end of 2021.
Overall the stats showed that the party had seen healthy growth in 2021, adding 3.7% new members to reach 96.7 million in total or nearly 7% of China’s population.
According to CPC application procedure, aspiring party members should tender their written applications to their local party committee. If agreed by the local CPC committee, the applicant is considered a party activist (入党积极分子). After no less than a year of evaluation by the party and attending training programs, activists would become probationary members. A probationary member has duties similar to those of full members, except that they may not vote in party elections nor stand for election. After another year of observation, a probationary member would become a full member.
The following three charts explain the composition of the party.
Classified by identity, women make up about 30% of party members. However, the party has made efforts to balance the gender ratio among its members in recent years, and female representation in the party has steadily risen. In 2021, nearly half of all new members are women.
According to the latest census results, the ethnic minority population (all ethnic groups other than the Han) make up about 8.89% of China’s population, which is reflected by the percentage of ethnic members in the party and among new members.
When it comes to people who’ve received higher education, the party clearly shows a preference. About half of its new members have a college degree, though less than 16% of the entire Chinese population do so.
Classified by occupation, one detail worth paying attention to is the considerable gap between the percentage of farmers among party members and new members. The clue to explain this gap lies in the Chinese census.
Due to China’s rapid urbanization, its farmers, herders, and fishermen are in sharp decline. According to the Chinese census, in 2020, only 36% of the Chinese population lived in rural areas (though not everyone living in rural areas are farmers, herders or fishermen), compared with about 50% just ten years earlier. Therefore the difference between of percentage of farmers as party members and new party recruits is likely a result of China’s demographic change.
Classified by age group, the party members are distributed evenly among all age groups. But new members are predominantly below 35 (see chart 2).
Statistics also suggested that the party has been growing faster in the past decade than before. Among the four eras that are set apart by key turning points of the party, it can be seen that membership growth since the 18th party congress has been the fastest among the four eras.
Now on CPC’s structure. Here we mainly look at the party’s regional structure and the party’s grassroots structure.
The party’s regional structure refers to party committees of administrative regions, such as provinces, cities/prefectures, and counties. When you see references in news reports of “party chief” in a particular city or province, that’s the top party official of the party’s committee of that particular administrative region, and in Chinese governance, that region’s top official.
The other dimension to observe the party’s structure is the party’s grassroots structure. According to the party charter, “In businesses, villages, governmental institutions, research institutions, communities, social organizations, PLA companies, and other grassroots organizations, there shall be a grassroots organization whenever at least three party members are present.”
In 2021, the CPC net added 117 thousand such grassroots organizations, registering a 2.4% growth. The report says grassroots organizations have been established in almost all places that warrant one.
The graphics in this newsletter is done by Lu Jia’nan, an intern for Beijing Channel.