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When members of the Communist Party of China applied to set up a branch of German medical supplier Fesenius Kabi, one manager asked a lot of questions:
"How does a Communist organization coexist with a German enterprise? Will it affect our business?"
The questions were raised by Chinese-German Yang Zhiming, manager of the Nanchang subsidiary of the company.
"Chinese and German people have different cultures, customs and ways of thinking," Yang said. "We were afraid that Party activities might interfere with our business."
What changed their minds was the performance of the CPC members working at the subsidiary. In response to a labor shortage, Party members there mobilized the entire staff to pitch in on recruitment. They also took the initiative to help resolve disputes within the company.
The German management team has found CPC members to be more self-disciplined and willing to undertake challenging tasks. They take on more responsibility and appear focused on he business.
In 2016, a Party branch was set up at the subsidiary, with the approval of the German head office.
"CPC membership is not only a political identity but a symbol of excellence. Moral integrity and competence in one"s work are both necessary criteria for membership. That"s what makes the CPC different," said Zheng Changzhong, an expert on Party building at Shanghai"s Fudan University.
In a Nanchang shopping mall owned by German retailer Metro Group, management"s attitude toward Party members underwent a similar transition.
"Once we had a big order to fill, but our forklift broke down," said Chen Siying, head of the Party branch at the company. "Some CPC members worked nonstop for more than 10 hours, loading the freight by hand."
CPC membership is now a preferred qualification for prospective new employees.
According to the CPC Constitution, members should be a vanguard fighting for the Chinese working class. They should serve the people wholeheartedly and be ready to make any personal sacrifice. CPC members must separate public and private interests, put the public interest first and work selflessly. They must champion simplicity and guard against extravagance.
The CPC has increased its presence in the private sector in the past few years. Foreign-funded enterprises and joint ventures are a key part of the expansion.
The constitution stipulates that the Party exercises overall leadership over all areas of endeavor in every part of the country. The principle was reaffirmed by the recent 19th CPC National Congress.
A major campaign on the spirit of the congress has been launched, involving all Party members.
For CPC members at Sedrin Brewery Co - the Nanchang subsidiary of Belgian brewer AB InBev - the spirit of the congress is obvious. With 18 members, the Party branch in Sedrin has a clear organizational structure and a set of internal regulations.
"To help people have a better life, we need both technology and craftsmanship to raise the quality of our products. That"s how we will implement the spirit of the congress," said Zheng Wenqing, head of the company"s CPC branch during a Party theory class.
On Oct 18, CPC members at the company watched the opening session of the 19th CPC National Congress. After the congress they discussed the report and the revised CPC Constitution.
In Nanchang, Jiangxi province, CPC branches at foreign enterprises organized more activities since the congress. Some Party members have been given more time for study and discussions. In some companies, noncommunist senior executives even attended the discussions.
Of more than 100,000 foreign-funded enterprises in China, 70 percent had Party organizations at the end of 2016, according to Qi Yu, deputy head of the CPC Central Committee Organization Department.
"It has been decades since foreign enterprises started operating in China. They have recognized that Party organizations can play a positive role in business development and generate benefits," Fudan University"s Zheng said.