While Eastern Europe celebrates 20 years since Communism’s collapse (see post below), the Communist Party is alive and well in China. This will be on display Oct. 1, as Beijing commemorates 60 years since founding the “People’s Republic of China” – in Western short-hand, the Communist regime.
The Party today uses more than heavy-handed suppression to prop up its regime: patronage is just as invidious and effective. One of my students from the mainland, May, matter-of-factly explains that her parents are small-town Party members, with a Mao statue in their home. Their faith is buffered by disgust with the materialism and corruption flourishing since the opening of China’s economy.
Her parents hope she will join the Party; May, 25, shares that sentiment.
Joining, however, is a highly competitive, drawn-out process. By May’s estimate, if a class has 30 to 40 students, only three or four will be selected. You need a high GPA, write an essay “about how much you love Communism, and what you’ll contribute to the Communists,” then a committee of senior Party cadres will interview the candidate to gauge their loyalty.
May, though, admits her motive for jumping through these hoops is not quite idealistic. “You sometimes feel hopeless,” she says. “Unless your family has connections, you can’t get a good job.”