Companies with foreign interests are supposed to pay for these units. About 106,000 firms already have them. This has raised fears the party will interfere in management. German Chambers of Commerce do not want political parties inside their structures, and, if pressures continue, they might leave the Chinese market.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – At least 106,000 foreign-invested companies based in China set up Communist Party units, more than double since 2011, when they were 47,000, said Qi Yu, deputy head of the Central Organisation Department, at a briefing a month ago.
Such units are part of a plan promoted by Chinese President Xi Jinping he launched five years ago at the party congress, Qi explained
At this year's congress, Xi stressed again that the Communist Party must lead and help in all aspects of life, including private businesses, joint ventures with foreigners, and foreign-owned firms.
For Qi, “Some senior executives at foreign-invested companies say party organisations can help them understand China’s policies in a timely manner”.
Many businesses and companies, although they have to cover the costs of these units, see them as a way of cosying up to the authorities to facilitate their activities.
However, not everyone agrees. Members of the German business community in China have raised concerns about embedding Communist Party officials in their organisations, fearing that this might lead to demands that they be forced to include them in managerial positions.
In a statement released last week, the Delegations of German Industry and Commerce in China – which represents the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce in China – note that foreign businesses face increasing challenges in the country as the party’s influence on their operations grew.
The association said it had received reports about attempts by the party to boost its influence on wholly foreign-owned German companies operating in China. There is no legal basis for such companies to promote the party.
“We do not believe that foreign-invested companies generally should be required to promote the development of any political party within company structures,” the statement said.
“Should these attempts to influence foreign-invested companies continue, it cannot be ruled out that German companies might retreat from the Chinese market or reconsider investment strategies.”
At the same time, German businesses wonder why their requests for China to open further its market to foreign investment have had no effect, despite promises made by Xi Jinping.