Young people pose for photos at the site of the first National Congress of the Communist Party of China in Shanghai
Jo Tei, Chan Yat Do and Jeung Yet Gwang

BEIJING — "Ever since I was a kid, I've always wanted to join the party..." Yanru, a 22-year-old university student studying at a well-known university in northern China, just became a CCP member last year. For her and her peers, joining the Chinese Communist Party is something that just seems natural: "It has led us to victories, fought back the foreign colonists, and built up the strong and prosperous new China today."

For Yanru, the purpose of joining the party is to serve the society, and to be useful for the country. "There is only one correct motive for joining the party, that is to serve the people with full hearts, and to eventually fully achieve communism," she wrote in her membership application letter.

But for others, being a party member is also a proof of excellence, a sign of elite status. Another young Chinese university student, Jieru, wants to join the party simply because she wants to become a civil servant. With young people becoming more focused on finding employment in the public sector, and the national civil servants admission exam becoming more competitive, all are aware of a tacit soft rule that CPC members have more chances of being selected for such posts.

In online forums, there are countless articles explaining the benefits of joining the party: a CPC membership would be an advantage when working in public administration and state enterprises. Some enterprises and institutions will list "Party members first" in their job postings, and some positions are deemed exclusive to the CPC.

Chinese President Xi Jinping talks with students at a primary school in Zhongyi — Photo: Xie Huanchi/Xinhua/ZUMA Wire

In a 2016 speech, President Xi Jinping declared that the Chinese state-owned enterprise system was "special" for the integration of the Party's leadership in corporations. According to a bank manager from southern China, there now exists an atmosphere in enterprises where everyone is actively joining the party without external motivation, which was gradually formed since Xi came to power. "Without party membership, you don't even dream of promotion."

But the party is also limiting membership admission under Xi, with its focus shifted to monitoring "the quality of membership." Following this initiative in 2013, newly admitted numbers in the party have been declining each year, meeting its lowest point in 2017 with 117,000 new members. Even so, in some universities, teachers have to motivate students to join the party in order to fulfill the "quotas and orders from above."

Nevertheless, it is no simple task to join the CPC. Apart from the strict examinations on political profile, academic performance and social engagements, candidates also need to take classes, while going through at least six months of waiting to pass on to the next selection steps. Loads of paperwork is also unavoidable, especially when some of the CPC branches' administrations are in chaos.

The irony is that, in reality, becoming a CPC member does not change one's life much. Qiuyuan, a university student, recalled that the only highlight was the admission ceremony, where 30-40 new members solemnly made the vow: "We are ready to sacrifice everything for the party and the people." Qiuyuan was shocked by the pledge: "Were they actually serious about this?"

Still, for most people, party membership only leads to more meetings and orientation activities, such as visiting "patriotic travel sites," and group meetings where members are encouraged to communicate and conduct "constructive critique." The latter is a response to Xi's initiative in 2016, "Criticism and self-critique are the medicine and care for our comrades… we need to name the problems, raise opinions and evaluate the harms."

Every effort is made to prevent students from dropping out of the party.

Another issue is the difficulty to pull out of the party. Theoretically, members have the freedom to quit; according to party protocols, ordinary citizens will not be expelled from the party, yet withdrawal is only granted under two circumstances: when a member voluntarily requests, or when a member "lacks revolutionary will, does not fulfill his/her obligations as a party member." But no specific guidelines were given. Official documents only suggest that withdrawal should not be announced to the public, and the party should not force the members to remain. Still, one university teacher confessed that in most cases, every effort is made to prevent students from dropping out of the party.

Still, being a party member is indeed different. Qiuyuan is beginning to sense the benefits in her career, as her housing aids and social benefits have been augmented. Under certain circumstances, party membership seems to be a trouble, especially in today's geopolitical conflicts: the Trump administration had forbidden current and former Communist Party members to immigrate to the U.S., and even their families are restricted in getting travel visas. As there are currently about 91.9 million CPC members in China, about 200 million Chinese are affected by this policy.

A group of children with red scarves and national flags pose for photos in Beijing Tiananmen Square under the party emblem — Photo: Sheldon Cooper/SOPA Images/ZUMA Wire

At the end of the day, young CPC members are just more or less as apolitical as most of the population in this country. "Every country has its own mode of administration, while public opinion is controlled for the stability of the country, not only in China," says Yanru. "Young people are easily incited, and we all think the CPC is pretty good anyway."

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Thousands of migrants in Del Rio, Texas, on the border between Mexico and the U.S.

Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, Bertrand Hauger and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Сайн уу*

Welcome to Friday, where the new U.S.-UK-Australia security pact is under fire, Italy becomes the first country to make COVID-19 "green pass" mandatory for all workers, and Prince Philip's will is to be kept secret for 90 years. From Russia, we also look at the government censorship faced by brands that recently tried to promote multiculturalism and inclusiveness in their ads.

[*Sain uu - Mongolian]

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• U.S. facing multiple waves of migrants, refugees: The temporary camp, located between Mexico's Ciudad Acuña and Del Rio in Texas, is housing some 10,000 people, largely from Haiti. With few resources, they are forced to wait in squalid conditions and scorching temperatures amidst a surge of migrants attempting to cross into the U.S. Meanwhile, thousands of recently evacuated Afghan refugees wait in limbo at U.S. military bases, both domestic and abroad.

• COVID update: Italy is now the first European country to require vaccination for all public and private sector workers from Oct. 15. The Netherlands will also implement a "corona pass" in the following weeks for restaurants, bars and cultural spaces. When he gives an opening speech at the United Nations General Assembly next week, unvaccinated Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will defy New York City authorities, who are requiring jabs for all leaders and diplomats.

• U.S. and UK face global backlash over Australian deal: The U.S. is attempting to diffuse the backlash over the new security pact signed with Australia and the UK, which excludes the European Union. The move has angered France, prompting diplomats to cancel a gala to celebrate ties between the country and the U.S.

• Russian elections: Half of the 450 seats in Duma are will be determined in today's parliamentary race. Despite persistent protests led by imprisoned opposition leader Alexey Navalny, many international monitors and Western governments fear rigged voting will result in President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party maintaining its large majority.

• Somali president halts prime minister's authority: The decision by President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed marks the latest escalation in tensions with Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble concerning a murder investigation. The move comes as the Horn of Africa country has fallen into a political crisis driven by militant violence and clashes between clans.

• Astronauts return to Earth after China's longest space mission: Three astronauts spent 90 days at the Tianhe module and arrived safely in the Gobi desert in Inner Mongolia. The Shenzhou-12 mission is the first of crewed missions China has planned for 2021-2022 as it completes its first permanent space station.

• Prince Philip's will to be kept secret for 90 years: A British court has ruled that the will of Prince Philip, the late husband of Britain's Queen Elizabeth who passed away in April at 99 years old, will remain private for at least 90 years to preserve the monarch's "dignity and standing."

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

With a memorable front-page photo, Argentine daily La Voz reports on the open fight between the country's president Alberto Fernández and vice-president Cristina Kirchner which is paralyzing the government. Kirchner published a letter criticizing the president's administration after several ministers resigned and the government suffered a major defeat in last week's midterm primary election.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

€150

An Italian investigation uncovered a series of offers on encrypted "dark web" websites offering to sell fake EU COVID vaccine travel documents. Italy's financial police say its units have seized control of 10 channels on the messaging service Telegram linked to anonymous accounts that were offering the vaccine certificates for up to €150. "Through the internet and through these channels, you can sell things everywhere in the world," finance police officer Gianluca Berruti told Euronews.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

In Russia, brands advertising diversity are under attack

Russian sushi delivery Yobidoyobi removed an advertisement with a Black man and apologized for offending the Russian nation, while a grocery chain was attacked for featuring an LGBTQ couple, reports Moscow-based daily Kommersant.

❌ "On behalf of the entire company, we want to apologize for offending the public with our photos..." reads a recent statement by Russian sushi delivery Yobidoyobi after publishing an advertisement that included a photograph of a Black man. Shortly after, the company's co-founder, Konstantin Zimen, said people on social media were accusing Yobidoyobi of promoting multiculturalism. Another recent case involved grocery store chain VkusVill, which released advertising material featuring a lesbian couple. The company soon began to receive threats and quickly apologized and removed the text and apologized.

🏳️🌈 For the real life family featured in the ad, they have taken refuge in Spain, after their emails and cell phone numbers were leaked. "We were happy to express ourselves as a family because LGBTQ people are often alone and abandoned by their families in Russia," Mila, one of the daughters in the ad, explained in a recent interview with El Pais.

🇷🇺 It is already common in Russia to talk about "spiritual bonds," a common designation for the spiritual foundations that unite modern Russian society, harkening back to the Old Empire as the last Orthodox frontier. The expression has been mocked as an internet meme and is widely used in public rhetoric. For opponents, this meme is a reason for irony and ridicule. Patriots take spiritual bonds very seriously: The government has decided to focus on strengthening these links and the mission has become more important than protecting basic human rights.Russian sushi delivery Yobidoyobi removed an advertisement with a Black man and apologized for offending the Russian nation, while a grocery chain was attacked for featuring an LGBTQ couple, reports Moscow-based daily Kommersant.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

"Ask the rich countries: Where are Africa's vaccines?"

— During an online conference, Dr. Ayoade Olatunbosun-Alakija, of the African Vaccine Delivery Alliance, implored the international community to do more to inoculate people against COVID-19 in Africa and other developing regions. The World Health Organization estimates that only 3.6% of people living in Africa have been fully vaccinated. The continent is home to 17% of the world population, but only 2% of the nearly six billion shots administered so far have been given in Africa, according to the W.H.O.

✍️ Newsletter by Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, Bertrand Hauger and Anne-Sophie Goninet

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