Foreign companies allow party units to keep leaders happy

Thousands of foreign companies operating in China are doing something they might have never done in their native countries or in other places where they have set up shops - allowing units of the ruling party in their companies. No, they are not doing it voluntarily; the Communist Party of China mandates them to do so.

According to the Communist Party of China's (CPC) charter, any company, village or school that has three or more party members must establish a party organisation. The Company law also mandates that companies should provide for party activities.

Figures revealed by the CPC, whose 18th Party Congress is in session here, show that 983,000 private companies, including 47,000 foreign-owned companies, have established party organisations to date. The CPC is proudly bandying these figures to argue that the party is expanding fast and entering newer areas.

Wang Jingqing, vice-minister of the party's organisation department claims such units have helped companies learn about latest national politics, improve relations between workers and their employers and resolve conflicts.

In fact, critics say one of the criteria for selecting many of the bosses of private companies as delegates for the party congress was the level of party construction in their firms. As many as 34 private-sector businessmen have been picked as delegates this time, an increase from 7 in 2002 and 17 in 2007.

But many of the foreign companies, it seems, have allowed setting up of such units just to keep party bosses happy. A pro-establishment Chinese daily reported that a survey, conducted by the Beijing Investment Promotion Bureau in 111 foreign companies with party committees, showed about 39 per cent of them do not convene regularly.

But as the party increases representation of private business tycoons in its ranks and encourage more private companies to set up units, it is throwing up an interesting question. In the event of a dispute between employer and workers in a company, who will it side with — the employer or workers?

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