Internet industry a ‘new ideological battleground’: expert

By Yang Sheng Source:Global Times Published: 2016/10/28 0:43:39

China's cyberspace authorities are pushing for the establishment of Communist Party of China (CPC) branches in the country's booming Internet sector, with companies looking to facilitate communications with the government welcoming the decision.

At a meeting held on Wednesday, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) called for efforts to set up Party subcommittees inside Internet firms to "consolidate the foundation of the ruling party, as well as to ensure the healthy development of the cyberspace industry," said CAC deputy head Ren Xianliang.

Chinese Internet companies have been rising fast, with more than 700 million Internet users. Documents issued at the meeting said the CPC Beijing Internet Association committee, which oversees the Party organizations of 36 major Beijing-based website operators, has 6,436 registered CPC members.

The Party's organization within Internet firms is rapidly developing. Baidu, China's largest online search engine, has 3,600 registered CPC members, and, China's second largest online retailer after Alibaba, has 2,086 members from 82 Party branches, China National Radio reported on Wednesday.

However, managing Internet companies remains a challenge for Party efforts. Tong Liqiang, Party chief and Beijing Cyberspace Administration director, said that "95 percent of Internet firms are non-State enterprises, and their employees are mostly young, highly educated and ideologically diverse." He said that the Party's leadership should be the Internet companies' "root" and "soul."

Su Wei, a professor at the CPC Chongqing Municipal Committee Party School, said Party organization-building is one of the Party's primary missions.

The Party Constitution requires that any institution or organization with three or more Party members should build a Party branch or subcommittee.

"Therefore, there is no reason for Internet firms to be excluded from this basic requirement," Su said.

Su said the Internet industry is a "new ideological battleground," where foreign forces continue to try to damage China's domestic stability and interrupt the CPC's governance.

"The Party branch and committee within companies need to play a surveillance role to guarantee the healthy development of China's Internet environment," he added.

The Party Committee of Le Holding, a Beijing-based Internet company, usually holds regular meetings on measures and regulations issued by both the Party and government. Party member employees can set a good example for others and help the company establish order and discipline, He Jinsong, Le Holding's deputy Party chief and company vice president, told the Global Times.

Other companies interviewed by the Global Times have also welcomed the establishment of a Party organization as it will bring benefits.

A Party chief surnamed Su of a newly founded Internet firm based in Changsha, Central China Hunan Province, told the Global Times that "Leaders of Internet companies are mostly science, business and engineering degree holders, and they don't know how the Party machine works." But with the Party subcommittee in the company, "it can help us develop a smoother relationship with the government than other firms [that don't have Party branches]," Su said.

On the other hand, "the Party machine can help us transform the company supervisors' will into the company's will, since the unity and stability of a firm are extremely important," he said.

However, challenges remain, as it remains to be seen how this system would benefit ordinary employees. "It is not easy to carry out Party activities in Internet firms and private companies," since Party membership or involvement in committee activities are not directly linked to career paths and higher salaries, according to He of Le Holding.

Newspaper headline: China bats for CPC branches in Internet sector

Posted in: POLITICS

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