Does CCP’s New United Front Work Directive Mean China’s Private Sector Is Doomed?

September 25, 2020 Updated: October 7, 2020


On Sept. 15, the General Office of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee issued a set of guidelines “for strengthening the United Front Work in the private sector.” The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rarely publishes documents about its United Front Work that involves private enterprises in China.

This rare incident exposes the real situation that private businesses face under the rule of the CCP.

The United Front Work Department (UFWD) directly reports to the CCP’s Central Committee. It gathers intelligence on, manages relations with, and attempts to influence elite individuals and organizations inside and outside China. Its focus is influential people and entities that are outside the Party, especially in the overseas Chinese community.

Through its efforts, the UFWD seeks to ensure that these individuals and groups are supportive of or useful to the CCP’s interests and that potential critics remain divided.

CCP Considers Private Firms as ‘Risks’

The document explains that the “New Thinking” follows Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s instruction on the Party’s United Front Work related to the private enterprise sector.

It says, “The United Front Work is faced with new situations and new tasks, because the scale of the private sector has been expanding, risks and challenges have increased significantly, and the values and interests of the private economy personnel have become more diverse as socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era.”

The CCP publicly regards private enterprises as “risks and challenges.” This may surprise many people, but it’s indeed what the CCP is very concerned about. With the increase of private enterprises and the privatized economy, the CCP is always on guard, fearing that this may eventually turn into a peaceful revolution.

According to the CCP’s mouthpiece Xinhua News on Sept. 11, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang “gave remarks at a teleconference on issues including deepening reforms to streamline administrative approval, delegating power to lower levels, and improving regulations and services.” But just four days later, the General Office of the CCP’s Central Committee didn’t hesitate to put forth the UFWD guidelines for the private sector to seemingly “correct” Li’s statements.

Private company owners should have mixed feelings after reading these conflicting directives. It’s no longer a question of whether their businesses can operate normally, but whether the entire private industry is doomed.

The document stated, “Strengthening United Front Work within the private sector is an important means to realize the Party’s leadership over the private economy and an important aspect of developing and improving the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

The ultimate ownership of private enterprises is already clear. Ultimately, an entrepreneur’s efforts and painstaking management procedures can only follow the leadership of the CCP. Whose enterprise is it then? And what is the entrepreneur entitled to?

Private Entrepreneurs Are ‘Potential Enemies’

The document also states, “Private economy personnel, as one of our own, are an important force that must be united and relied upon for long-term governance.”

The document defines “one of our own” as those who “foster stronger confidence in the path, theory, system, and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics [and] abide by and support the leadership of Xi Jinping and the leadership of the CCP.”

The fate of those entrepreneurs who fail to meet the standard can only be imagined. There have been numerous tragic examples of such private entrepreneurs, be it large or small, who didn’t follow the leadership of the Party.

The document stresses efforts to “strengthen the guidance of political thinking of private sector personnel, train competent representative figures in the sector, maintain a high degree of consistency with the Party Central Committee, and always be a politically sensible person.”

This sounds like the doctrine for Party officials for choosing sides in internal fighting (within the CCP), but it’s now applied to entrepreneurs of private enterprises! Most of the private entrepreneurs who can’t become “one of our own” will, of course, be considered a threat to the CCP’s power, and they also become an enemy of the CCP.

After the Cultural Revolution, this type of rhetoric was used more within the Party ranks and rarely directly applied to the general public. Now, there’s a feeling in China of the re-emergence of the Cultural Revolution. Do the top CCP leaders really think that by leaning all the way to the left, they can keep holding on to their power?

United Front Work Mode Revealed

The CCP’s UFWD has an ambitious brainwashing objective. The document states that the United Front Work should cover “all private enterprises and private economy personnel,” including investors, stakeholders, heads of industries, commerce and relevant social service organizations, major partners of private intermediaries, investors from Hong Kong and Macau, and representatives of industries.

The document also states that the United Front will build a database and talent pool of private enterprise representatives. Surely, the targeted people will be put under control, one by one. This is what the Chinese communist regime is best at.

The document also stresses the importance of strengthening Party-building work in private enterprises by guiding private economic figures to continuously enhance their political identity, ideological identity, and emotional identity; and to absorb personnel in the private sector who meet the requirements of Party membership in a timely manner.

In other words, only by joining the Party can private sector entrepreneurs truly become “one of our own” to the CCP, and private enterprises will become CCP enterprises.

However, members of the CCP will soon become targets of sanctions by the United States and other Western countries. Party members may not be able to obtain visas, study abroad or emigrate. Many Chinese are voluntarily quitting from the Party and hope to obtain a certificate of withdrawal from the Party and its associated organizations. Therefore, most private business entrepreneurs may not be willing to get themselves into the troublesome status of a Party member.

United Front Workers Exposed

According to the document, the Federation of Industry and Commerce and its affiliated Chambers of Commerce (in China) are important organizational supports for the United Front Work in its work with the private-sector economy. It urged to “persist in the establishment of political associations [and] guide private enterprises to join the Chambers of Commerce.”

However, “organizations related to private enterprise entrepreneurs that have not been registered as associations shall not engage in relevant activities,” it stated.

Frankly, it’s a known fact that private-enterprise entrepreneurs can only participate in the CCP’s United Front Work organization and cannot establish Chambers of Commerce by themselves. But the CCP mouthpiece media’s public announcement truly embarrassed the United Front workers in these Chambers of Commerce.

So, how does the Chinese communist regime control these Chambers of Commerce?

The document states, “Support and help Chambers of Commerce through means such as government purchase of services.”

The CCP’s media publicly discussing such big “truths” is indeed a bit surprising. It seems that the factors behind the publication of this document really aren’t simple. This is tantamount to completely exposing the main mode of the CCP’s United Front Work, which is the case in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, as well as in overseas Chinese communities.

The so-called community leaders and organizers are thus confirmed as being salaried United Front workers.

Although the CCP has never openly said so, most people are tacitly aware. But suddenly the CCP publicly releases such internal United Front Work operating documents, indicating that the CCP’s internal policies have been completely different from what it used to profess.

It means the CCP’s senior leaders feel that their power is threatened and their core position is challenged, and they have to disclose such internal documents in an attempt to provide policies for private enterprises to set the tone and unify the argument.

Whether it is Chinese in the mainland, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, or overseas, they should realize that the CCP treats everyone, other than Party members, as potential enemies. Therefore, the CCP is very sensitive to the distinction made between the CCP regime and the Chinese people, and why it expressed such strong disapproval of the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo making a distinction between the CCP and the Chinese people.

This is precisely the CCP’s real sore point. It feels surrounded by the enemy. How can it not be afraid?

Zhong Yuan is a researcher focused on China’s political system, the country’s democratization process, its human rights situation, and Chinese citizens’ livelihood. He began writing commentaries for the Chinese-language edition of The Epoch Times in 2020.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.