BEIJING, June 29 (Xinhua) -- The approximately 840,000 individuals who are members of the eight non-communist parties are "friends" of the Communist Party of China, said a senior CPC official Wednesday.
Zhang Xiansheng, spokesman for the United Front work department of the CPC Central Committee, said at a press conference that unlike in other systems, these parties are not the opposition, but rather participants in the administration of state affairs.
These eight non-communist parties had only around 10,000 members when New China was founded in 1949. The figure climbed to more than 60,000 when the country started reform and opening-up in the late 1970s, he said.
The country's current political system of multi-party cooperation has "a wide coverage," Zhang said, adding that "besides the existing parties, it is unnecessary to establish new parties" as the nine have basically covered all circles.
The CPC's 80-million strong membership includes workers, farmers, military personnel, intellectuals as well as private business owners, lawyers and accountants, while the eight other parties mainly attract people from the middle and upper classes, Zhang said.
In response to a reporter's question on whether the eight non-Communist parties could "make their own decisions in selecting members," Wu Xiaoli, director of the department in charge of non-communist party affairs under the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee, said these parties sometimes "ask the CPC to give introductions on a few intellectuals," but they decide themselves on the selection of their members.
"The CPC does not force these parties (to select certain members)," said Chen Xiqing, deputy head of the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee, at Wednesday's press conference.
Chen said in cases these parties have no grassroots branches in certain organizations, or they do not know much about certain people they want to have as their members, they may ask the CPC to provide some information.
China's political system also includes people without party affiliation, which is "an important part of the country's multi-party cooperation in attracting people of some social class that cannot be covered by the CPC or the eight non-Communist parties," said spokesman Zhang Xiansheng.
These non-politically affiliated people are all "influential intellectuals or professionals who have made great social contributions," he said.
Prominent individuals without party affiliation include Yuan Longping,"father of super hybrid rice," Justin Yifu Lin, chief economist and senior vice president of the World Bank, and Minister of Health Chen Zhu.
Chen Xiqing said about 32,000 non-communists served at or above the level of county heads at the end of last year, including Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang and Minister of Health Chen Zhu.
"Many non-communist officials have told us that they are influential in decision-making and that their views are heard at CPC meetings," he said.
Zhang Xiansheng said non-communist parties "make proposals" and "supervise" the ruling CPC, adding that the supervision's purpose was "fundamentally different from that of Western parties."
"In the West, opposition parties' supervision aims to topple the ruling party, whereas China's non-communist parties intend to help the CPC improve its ruling and avoid mistakes via supervision," he said.
"SINGLE-PARTY SYSTEM" OR "MULTI-PARTY SYSTEM"?
"We often hear some foreign friends asking, is China a 'single-party system' or a 'multi-party system'?" Chen said.
"We are neither an 'one-party system' nor a 'multi-party system' -- we practice a system of multi-party cooperation under the CPC leadership," he said.
Chen said the CPC has a United Front work department for the special purpose of "uniting non-CPC personages," which is "a unique practice that distinguishes the CPC from other political parties around the world."
"Although the CPC dwarfs all other parties in size, it is still a minority compared to the country's population of more than 1.3 billion," said Chen, who added that the United Front should still be considered as a "key weapon" of rallying all Chinese, both at home and abroad, and consolidating and expanding the mass base for the CPC's lasting governance.