How does promotion work within the Chinese Communist party?

To rise within the Communist party is a lifelong process and the preparation starts at a very early age. You need a continued career path from the kindergarden to the highest spheres.

The typical CCP career involves becoming gradually a leader (zhang, 长) of higher rank. In middle school, you really want to be the head of your sport or math team (队长) and the lead of your class (班长). Your parents will push you very hard to become also a school representative (会长). From there, you will be invited to different meetings and groups with other kids, also going to special summer schools where you can meet with the head of the district (区长) or local mayor (市长).

You will be in charge to solve conflicts in your class. Actually, at that point you have already more power than the teacher, esp if you come from a well-known family. If you think the teacher “behaves badly “, you can just report him and he will put in a very difficult situation.

After 4-6 years of a (top) university, you will start to make your way slowly to province and national government to become a ministry (部长). Here you have two main options:

  1. internal promotion : get to Beijing and obtain an important position inside the party ecosystem there. Grow the ladder of the Party administration by expanding your influence (what Xi Jinping did)
  2. be successful in a key area : A typical career will involve top management position in an important national company or higher education in a first or second-tier city. Quora User has mentioned that engineers were usually preferred - he ‘s right but I think it is changing quickly. Most of the key cities are already built so current big issues for local governments often require more management and less building.

Your best asset for both choices will be your network, starting with your univ friends that are the first important group you can rely on. Actually, the first choice (internal promotion) will be impossible to make if you didn ‘t attend Qinhua or maybe Beida University in Beijing.

After some years, when you have got enough power and connections nation-wide, you may be nominated by some of your (elder) peers to attend some important position in the central government.

The whole point of this answer is : there is no newcomer in the CCP. Nobody really “join “ the party and get promoted. In that sense, it is really not similar to big corporations, like other answers suggested. Instead, you are raised with it and get promoted during your lifetime.

The word zhang 长 doesn ‘t only mean “to be a leader “. It also mean “to grow “ and “to last “ because all three things are actually so close in China.

This text was originally published in quora.

A question? A comment?

Please send it to me by email bonjour@clementrenaud.com or on Twitter.