China’s Communist Party is the world’s largest political organization with 92 million members and the party is everywhere in Chinese society. The Communist Party is even a part of all Danish businesses in China, TV2 reports.
In step with the growing prosperity of the country, many had expected that China would change and become more democratic. But the Communist Party has since 2012, when president Xi Jinping came to power, tightened its grip on all sections of society and rearmed on the ideological front.
This also applies to Danish companies in China, where the Communist Party in recent years has begun to enforce an old rule of setting up local branches if there are more than three party members in the company. The purpose of the party group meetings is ideological training primarily about reading Xi Jinping’s latest writings on the vision of Chinese society. But they also engage in charity work and make themselves available to employees who need help.
According to Kjeld Erik Brødsgaard, who is a professor of China studies at CBS and an expert in the Chinese Communist Party, it is about control. “It is important for the party to control and have an influence on all parts of Chinese society. Therefore, all companies and bodies must have a communist branch. Whether it is government, private or joint ventures for that matter,” he explains.
That image of control is something Danish Industry (DI) recognizes among its member companies in China and to TV2, Peter Thagesen, deputy director of Danish Industry says, “Most of the Danish companies that I know of in China have a party group, which makes up about five percent of the employees.
Communications director Peter Trillingsgaard says that at Grundfos in China two groups meet digitally or outside working hours. “As a company, we are therefore not directly involved in meetings or activities, but we make facilities available. Of course, this confirms that the party is everywhere, but that is nothing new,” he writes in an email to TV2.
At Danish Crown’s new Chinese factory in Pinghu, which is located near Shanghai, no party groups have been set up, but there is close cooperation with the local Communist Party. According to Vice President Søren Tinggaard, who is stationed in China, this is a great advantage for the Danish company. “We hold meetings with them several times a month, and I find them incredibly helpful and committed. Of course, they have an interest in us hiring local labor and paying taxes, but there is nothing wrong with that,” he says.
According to Kjeld Erik Brødsgaard however, there are also disadvantages to the party’s involvement in private companies, because it can be difficult to see through the power structures and party members’ loyalty lies primarily with the party and not the company.
At Dansk Industri, the development is a cause for concern and according to Peter Thagesen, Deputy Director, DI, more and more people from the west fear that the party might interfere more and more in the business.