Seeing Red

Every five years, China's Communist Party meets in Beijing to discuss and shape the country's future. We wonder: Where would the Chinese Communist Party's total membership rank among the world's most populous countries — if it were a separate, sovereign nation?

A. 3rd
B. 5th
C. 17th
D. 30th

A. 3rd is not correct.

The third-most populous country in the world is the United States, behind China (1.3 billion people) and India (1.1 billion). However, the U.S. population of over 300 million people outnumbers the membership of China’s Communist Party by a wide margin.

China’s Communist Party, founded in 1921, emerged victorious from China's civil war — and became the dominant force in the People's Republic of China, which was established in 1949.

Despite the country's rapid economic growth and increasing private property ownership, the Communist Party still exercises broad political and ideological leadership over most aspects of life in China.

B. 5th is not correct.

Brazil is the world's fifth-most populous country. Currently home to more than 190 million people, its population also outnumbers the membership of China's Communist Party.

Around 5.6% of China's population belongs to the Communist Party. Surprisingly, an estimated 113,000 party members run their own businesses (according to the latest available data) — indicating that the Communist Party sees a need to integrate itself with the most dynamic part of the Chinese economy.

C. 17th is correct.

According to the Chinese government, China's Communist Party has 73 million members. If the party were a sovereign nation, it would be the world's 17th most populous.

Ranking behind Ethiopia (76 million people), but ahead of Turkey (71 million people), the Chinese Communist Party has more members than the total population of either France (64 million) or the United Kingdom (61 million).

D. 30th is not correct.

The world's 30th most populous nation is Argentina, with over 40 million people. Thus, Argentina's population is only 55% as large as the number of Chinese who pay regular membership dues for the privilege of Communist Party membership.

Many new members are joining the party not because they believe in its ideology — but rather to secure themselves better jobs and other privileges.

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