China’s Communist Party Urged to Slim Down
In an article published in state media, Shandong University professor Zhang Xi’en has warned that, at around 83 million members, the Chinese Communist Party may have grown unhealthily large. Zhang proposes that membership be streamlined to a sleek, lean 51 million. From Tom Phillips at The Telegraph:
Prof Zhang […] argued that the Soviet Union provided a "tragic lesson of what happens when a party grows too large with no strong mechanism for members to quit."
Party leaders needed to find a way to jettison corrupt and opportunistic members who had "damaged the party spirit", joining the party "not because they believed in Marxism-Leninism, but because they yearned for wealth and fortune."
"Only if the Communist Party keeps improving the quality and ability of its members can it ensure lasting rule," he argued. [Source]
Minnie Chan provided more details on Zhang’s diet plan at South China Morning Post:
Zhang suggested the party’s Central Committee classify members into three categories: honorary, probationary and formal members, with the honorary group being where most of the cuts should be made, because it was largely composed of "older, sick and retired members who are unable to toe the party line".
He estimated "honorary members" could make up 20 per cent of the members, and many of them "are forced to stay in the party in order to save face, or for other political reasons". He also suggested the party extend the probation period of some "unqualified members" who failed to pass internal assessments.
To prevent party cadres from using the "exit mechanism" to kick out political enemies, Zhang said the human rights of all party members should not be "violated", and members should not be "discriminated" against, after deciding to leave the party. He stressed that the party’s constitution allows members to "join and withdraw" freely. [Source]
The Party is already one man lighter: the expulsion of former Agricultural Bank of China vice president Yang Kun was announced on Monday.