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4th World Conference of Chinese Studies

The growing influence of the Jiusan Xueshe in China´s politics.
Vortrag vom 17.08.2020. Wegen der Corona-Pandemie fand die 4th Conference of Chinese Studies nur online statt.

The Jiusan Xueshe or Nine-Three Academic Society, hereinafter abbreviated as JS, belongs to the so called Eight Democratic Parties and Groups, Bage minzhu dangpai, that follow the Chinese Communist Party. It emerged from groups of intellectuals and scientists and was founded in 1946 with the support of the top CCP leader Zhou Enlai. The fact that the party was this close to the CCP from the beginning and was in opposition to the ruling Guomindang qualified it for participation in the Political Consultative Conference of the Chinese People in September 1949, just before the People's Republic of China was proclaimed. Mao Zedong sought to legitimize his power by including left-wing party functionaries in his government. This applied primarily to the Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese Guomindang and the China Democratic League.

Right after the founding of the new state, the JS followed the ideology and organizational structure of the CCP. In 1952 it declared formal submission to the CCP. Although it was undoubtedly in the wake of the predominant CCP, joining the JS was attractive to many academics because it set it´s programmatic priorities in the areas of education, training and culture.

While it had only 117 members in 1950, the membership growth peaked until the Hundred Flowers Movement to 6,000 by 1957. Encouraged by Mao Zedong to express openly their opinions of the communist regime, numerous academics criticized the policy of CCP leadership under Mao, resulting in the persecution of the the JS during the anti-rightist campaign. The number of JS local groups therefore fell from 90 to 18 by mid-1958. During the Cultural Revolution, party activities finally came to a standstill. From 1978 there was a revival of party activities. Although the number of members fell to 4,000 in 1978 as a result of the repression of the Anti-Rightist campaign and the Cultural Revolution, the JS has seen a steep increase to the present day.

After the campaigns the party grew from 4,000 to 7,000 members in just four years, in the following five years to 30,000 in 1987, and increased sixfold to 181,000 by early 2019. At the end of 2019, the party had 189,000 members, an increase of 8,000 in 12 months only.

Let´s have a look to the profile of party members: The high proportion of women, currently 41 %, is interesting in terms of membership. In 2016, 25 % of the JS members were employed in higher education and general education, 11 % in scientific research and 20 % in health care. 24 % were engineers or engineering scientists. The proportion of members with higher and middle degrees is declining, but much higher compared to the CCP. While it was 96 % in the first half of 2013, it fell to 93 % by 2016. In the first half of the year, only 75 % of new members had higher and middle titles. There are many reasons for this, for example because young members do not yet have the desired degree. Based on those facts, we can state that the JS has a special party profile that distinguishes it from other parties.

In contrast to parties in Europe, America or Japan, the JS does not compete with other parties. Instead, the JS offers the chance of becoming a member of one of the other minor parties or of the CCP. A striking feature compared with other nations´ political landscapes is the size difference between the predominant party and the minor parties. Although the JS has over 190,000 members today, it is still tiny compared to the CCP with 90 million.

The JS is integrated into state organs, people's congresses and consultative conferences at all levels. The importance of this increases due to the overlap between delegates directly sent by the party and those party members who are sent by other organizations for parliaments. For example, there were 45 JS members at the 13th Political Consultative Conference of the Chinese People. Another 60 JS members can be added because they belonged to other delegations. All in all, they were 105 party members among all 2,157 delegates.

In the 13th National People's Congress with its 2,980 members there were 2,119 CCP delegates. With a big gap the JS was in second place among the political parties at 64 members. Observers may find this discrepancy strange, but from the point of view of the minor parties and groups it is encouraging to enjoy this growing influence during the last years. If the JS is the second strongest party in the National People's Congress after the CCP, the reasons for this lie in the composition of lower people's congresses.

Here the JS made a name for itself particularly in certain provinces, those sent influential delegates to the NPC, for example, Shandong 7, Liaoning 6 and Sichuan 5.

Under those conditions, the JS was able to exert greater influence than the Democratic League, which has more members.

Diskussion hierzu:

Weyrauch führte aus, dass sich die Volksrepublik China selbst als "größte Demokratie der Welt" und "Mehrparteienstaat" bezeichne. Tatsächlich seien die kleinen Parteien ("minor parties and groups") der KP zahlenmäßig unterlegen, völlig von ihr abhängig und gänzlich auf ihre Ideologie ausgerichtet. Sie seien folglich auch nicht als Opposition anzusehen. Trotzdem verfügten sie als Teil des KP-System über Macht.