Sewing machine worker Ruan Shanhui has a new job in his village — he is a researcher and consultant for local affairs.
Ruan’s performance in his new post is one of the tests the 26-year-old has to complete as he is applying for membership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in Hutian Village, Taizhou City in eastern Zhejiang Province.
In the village, to join the Chinese ruling party is not as easy as before. First of all, the applicant needs support from the villagers.
Ruan topped the five “outstanding villagers” elected in a poll in July, when every household cast a vote.
However, he will compete with the other four to be a probationary Party member this year. A probationary Party member becomes an official member one year later if all goes well.
The process is part of the new mechanism that Taizhou City has been promoting in order to enhance the competence of Party members in rural areas. Party branch committees are weak and slack in some places, the recruitment often occurs among big families. In some villages, Party members are old with poor education.
For example, the average age of Party members in two villages in the Xiachen neighborhood reached 60. It administers 41 villages in total.
The average age of the five “outstanding villagers” in Hutian is 32. Two are college graduates.
“The new mechanism is fair and much more transparent than the old methods. Villagers support those who have a sense of responsibility and are willing to serve them,” said Ruan. He added that without the new mechanism, it would be difficult for him to realize his dream.
Corruption is a problem affecting Party branch committees in some rural areas. In 2011, residents in Wukan Village in south China’s Guangdong Province staged several protests against illegal land grabs, corruption and violations of financing and election rules among local officials.
A report of the 18th National Congress of the CPC in November said, “Some community-level Party organizations are weak and lax.”
It added, “We should perfect the mechanism for recruiting and disqualifying Party members so as to improve the composition of Party membership.”
Qiu Xiaoyou, 56-year-old secretary of the CPC’s Hutian Village branch committee said, “The public polls picked out young villagers who have a desire for improvement and good virtues. The new mechanism won wide applause from residents. It will enhance the qualities of Party members.”
Sun Tianbo, a senior official of the Xiachen neighborhood, said the new way of recruiting Party members would expand the coverage of recruitment and enhance the credibility and competence of village-level Party branch committees.
Under the new mechanism, Party members with disqualifications will be ordered to improve themselves or be expelled.
In Jiaojiang District of Taizhou, 89 Party members who have various problems have been urged to self-improve. Two of them who ignored the requirements were expelled.
In Gaojian Town, Taizhou, three Party members were expelled for violations of family planning policy, three for improper conduct and three others for their lax performance last year.
“The new mechanism contributed a lot to solving the problems of the narrow coverage of recruitment and weak performance from some Party members,” said Mo Feng, head of the organization department of the CPC’s Jiaojiang District committee.
By the end of 2011, the CPC had 82.6 million members, including 24.8 million farmers, herdsmen or fishermen. A total of 591,000 villages had Party branch committees, according to the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee.
“To maintain the Party’s advanced nature and purity requires each member to meet the standard. Those who violate the Party’s basic tenets or behave against the general social norms are unsuitable to remain members of an advanced ruling party,” said Liu Suhua, an associate professor of the Party School of the CPC Central Committee.