Xi Jinping cautioned against downsizing CCP membership

A leading Chinese Communist Party academic has warned against new leader Xi Jinping`s plans to downsize over 82-million-strong party.

Updated: Feb 21, 2013, 15:21 PM IST

Beijing: A leading Chinese Communist Party academic has warned against new leader Xi Jinping`s plans to downsize over 82-million-strong party, saying the move could be used to purge opponents.

After Xi along with his new team took over last year party officials said plans are afoot to expel "unqualified party members" in an effort to boost its reputation.

In his speech at a Politburo meeting last month, Xi spoke of cultivating new party members. He vowed to control party`s size and purge "unqualified members" in a timely manner.

"We once planned to cut 10 million of the party`s membership of 70 million, but we found it was not an easy job," said Li Junru, the former vice-president of the Central Party School.

"After a series of brainstorming meetings and studies, we gave up the pilot plan because many party experts found it was very hard to decide who should be given the right to design and define the qualification criteria," he was quoted as saying by Hong-Kong-based South China Morning Post.

"We failed to reach a conclusion on whether the qualification criteria should be decided and controlled by party members themselves, the public or party branch leaders," he added.

"If party branch leaders had the right, we were afraid it might become a means for some leaders to kick out comrades who had different opinions. And if the public had the right, some aggressive members who dared to offend people when promoting policies might be thrown out," he said.

Since the 18th Party Congress which elected the new leadership in November last year, the Party focus was shifted to corruption with old and new leaders emphasising that the problem is causing severe erosion of the Party’s image.

Xi has also warned that graft and alienation of party leaders from people would destabilise over six decades of party`s hold on power.

Guangdong`s provincial party committee recently announced a pilot programme to expel unqualified members in eight places, including Shenzhen, Qingyuan and Dongguan, with local branches allowed to set different qualification criteria.

But political analysts said the party would be better off tackling some obstacles and inherent risks that had lain hidden in the party for decades.

Professor Ding Li, the director of the Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences` regional competition centre, suggested the pilot scheme should start at the party`s upper levels.

"Criteria for Central Committee members should be higher than normal members," he said. "It`s meaningless if the pilot scheme just focuses on unqualified grass-roots members."

Professor Yuan Weishi, a political commentator at Guangzhou`s Sun Yat-sen University, said the plan would not make the party purer.

"The core problem of the Communist Party is the rampant corruption among senior officials...," Yuan said.