A bank in the Lanshan District of Shandong Province recently began offering personal loans that are exclusive to Chinese Communist Party members only, adding to their growing list of privileges.
The news was first reported by the South China Morning Post.
The Lanshan Rural Commercial Bank is offering a loan of 50,000 to 100,000 yuan (about $7,800 to $15,600) for “outstanding” Party members to finance car purchases, home building, travel, education, or private businesses, according to the Post.
The loan amount will be determined based on the Party members’ salaries, ability to repay, and what the loan will be used for. Applicants also have to present a certificate demonstrating they have not been subject to any internal Party disciplinary measures within the past five years.
Those who are nominated as “outstanding” by their local party branch will be eligible to borrow the maximum amount.
Since at least 2005, banks in rural areas across China have offered such “red loans,” as these Party-member-only perks are known, but those are primarily enterprise loans meant to encourage poor villagers to open their own businesses.
But loans for personal spending are, on the other hand, more unusual, given that Party members are supposed to abide by socialist values and the lifestyle of the “working class.”
In fact, many special privileges that Party members enjoy already stray from so-called socialist principles. For example, top officials have farms across the country grow food exclusively for them—all organic—while ordinary citizens have to contend with contaminated soil and water resources. Corrupt officials constantly scheme to pilfer money from public funds.
The newly available loans are an example of how the Party tries to attract members with benefits, as people increasingly join the Party primarily for economic advantages, such as assisting in getting a stable job as a bureaucrat, working at a state-owned company, or climbing up the corporate ladder. The Party’s mouthpiece newspaper ran an editorial in 2013 lamenting that Party members no longer join for ideological purposes.
Party morale is at an all-time low. A campaign to collect overdue party membership dues in 2016 garnered about 277 million yuan ($42 million), owed by more than 120,000 party members working in state-run companies, in just the northern city of Tianjin alone, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Hence, the Party has made recent efforts to instill loyalty. Foreign firms have been pressured to establish Party organizations for their employees, while popular tourism sites have plans to set up propaganda booths for promoting “red tourism.”
A leaked document in January revealed that the prestigious Tsinghua University required instructors to grade their students’ dissertations and theses on their “political stance and ideology.”
A growing number of Chinese are growing disillusioned with the Party and have publicly disavowed their ties to Party organizations. Since the Chinese edition of The Epoch Times published a nine-part series called “Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party” in 2004, sparking a worldwide “quitting the Party” movement, over 307 million renunciations of the party have been received in a registry set up by the Chinese Epoch Times.