Senior Chinese Communist party officials have been sending an ominous message to private sector entrepreneurs in recent weeks.
In a series of policy announcements and meetings, they have emphasised that private companies have an important role to play in “United Front work” — a euphemism for efforts aimed at ensuring that non-party organisations and entities support the party’s top policy objectives as well as its iron grip on power.
The officials added that they wanted to assemble a “team of representatives” from the private sector. They would be recruited either as party members or to join formal advisory bodies, with a particular focus on younger entrepreneurs in strategically important technology sectors. In return, private enterprises were promised greater government support and more equal treatment relative to their state-owned competitors.
The party has made similar promises in the past when it was worried about the country’s economic outlook, which is now clouded by the coronavirus pandemic and US attempts to cripple important Chinese technology companies. But this is the first time it has spelt out such an explicit quid pro quo in terms of how private entrepreneurs will be expected to help the party in return.