Magazine article New Internationalist

Hu's Who

Magazine article New Internationalist

Hu's Who

Article excerpt

Chinese Communist Party (CCP)

The government

Profile: Ruling China since 1949 as a totalitarian regime, the CCP has nearly 70 million members. Initially representing the working masses, peasant and worker membership decreased from 66 per cent in 1978 to 29 per cent in 2005. a Also in 2005, 23 per cent of party members were professionals and 30 per cent were college students. Women are under-represented. In 2006, 80.9 per cent of members were men while 80 per cent of new members are now under 35. 2

Main goal: To retain its one-party rule by maintaining social stability.

Strategy: Abandon a communist-style planned economy offering sparse benefits to the people, and replace it with a market economy still heavily directed by the central government. Crush threats to one-party rule or those seeking independence within China's borders. Undercut mass unrest by extending personal freedom in nearly all other areas. Dissolve rigid party élites and instead co-opt social élites (middle-class professionals, academics, entrepreneurs) to absorb potential disunity and strengthen the breadth of the party's rule.1·2 Retain the ability to use economic incentives to secure loyalty of the social elites.1

Networks: Penetrates all aspects of society. Being a party member is a legitimate way to build a power base.

Leaders: Hu Jintao, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CCP and President of People's Republic of China since 2003; Wen Jiabao, Premier (head of government) since 2003. The 2,987 member National People's Congress - the primary legislature in China - is subordinate to the CCP.

Power rating: * * * * *

The entrepreneurs

The money

Profile: A hybrid group combining state-owned enterprises, individual businesses and giant Chinese and foreign corporations. Although usually the greatest critics of Communist Party rule, some in their ranks have been the biggest winners, enjoying the breakneck pace of capitalist reform in a system that silences the losers. The Chinese State still owns the country's largest companies, maintaining monopolistic control in key industries (such as energy, transport, banking and communications). Senior and mid-level executives in state controlled enterprises are appointed by the CCP.1

Main goal: To make money.

Strategy: Maintain favour with the CCP.

Networks: Cross-pollination between entrepreneurs and the CCP and state officials is prolific. By 2006 there were around 6 million owners of private firms in China: about two-thirds were former state officials.2 The CCP counts 2.86 million employers and employees from private enterprise in its ranks, as well as 40 per cent of all heads of private and individual enterprises.2

Power rating: * * *

The military

The guns

Profile: The People's Liberation Army (PLA) may boast the world's largest standing army, but its influence has declined over the last decade.

Main goal: To build a military commensurate with the economic might of China - not to conquer but to defend China's expanding wealth.3

Strategy: Nationally, the size of the army and police force means that any people's uprising or challenge to authority can be decisively quelled. Internationally its stance is defensive. China has learned from Russia and is not about to enter a resource-sapping arms race like that which overstretched the superpowers during the 1980s.1 Although military spending is increasing by over 10 per cent each year, China's admirals are arguing for economic and diplomatic soft power 'weapons' rather than the use of military hardware. …

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