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Tuesday, 28 August, 2001, 13:00 GMT 14:00 UK
China's communists recruit capitalists
Chinese President Jiang Zemin
President Jiang: China must keep up with the times
By Duncan Hewitt in Shanghai

China's official news agency, Xinhua, has published a list of criteria for private entrepreneurs who want to join the Communist Party.

The article appears to be a response to criticism from hard-line Marxists of President Jiang Zemin's recently announced decision to allow entrepreneurs and non-state employees to join the party.

They must be patriotic, law-abiding citizens who pay their taxes in full, re-invest most of their profits in their businesses, and use their wealth for the good of society

President Jiang said two months ago that if it wanted to survive, the Chinese Communist Party had to reflect changes in society.

That meant allowing outstanding business people and private sector workers to join its ranks, he said.

But one traditional Marxist magazine has already been suspended for attacking the policy as a betrayal.

Even some mainstream media have suggested it could encourage corruption.

Now the leadership has launched a counter-attack.

Qualities necessary

The official Xinhua news agency clarified that the new policy did not mean that the party was simply throwing its door wide open without any principles.

It said entrepreneurs who became party members would have to abide by the country's laws, treat their employees fairly, and re-invest much of their profits to develop their businesses.

In creating wealth, the official agency said, they should not forget to repay society.

The article also emphasized that no-one should be admitted to the party simply because of their wealth, fame, or how much money they had donated.

These comments seem to reflect the fears of traditionalists that wealthy and well-connected local business people will be able to buy party membership and use power to their own advantage.

Socialist upbringing

In an attempt to calm such fears, the article stressed that today's entrepreneurs were people who grew up under the socialist system and the party's leadership, and were trying to build up the nation's economy.

And it said that allowing such people to become members would help the communist party expand its influence over what it called the new social strata.

Such comments are part of a major media campaign, orchestrated by the government's propaganda chief.

Analysts say the campaign is aimed at consolidating President Jiang's image ahead of next year's Communist Party congress, in which a new generation of leaders is expected to be announced.

The BBC's Duncan Hewitt
reports from Shanghai
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