The Communist Party of China will be more selective when recruiting new members, according to rules published on Tuesday by the General Office of the CPC Central Committee.
Experts said they believe the move indicates that the Party is striving to enhance its ruling capacity by controlling its size while improving the quality of new members.
The Central Committee requires all branch organisations to recruit new members in a "prudent" and "balanced" manner.
The latest version of the rules for recruiting Party members articulates that efforts should be made to control the overall size of the Party and to improve its structure and quality.
The version came after the Party's central leadership met in January 2013 and asked its organisations across the country to build a force featuring "moderate scale, reasonable structure, sound quality, strict discipline and outstanding work style".
Statistics from the Organisation Department of the CPC Central Committee showed there were more than 85 million Party members by the end of 2012. There were about 4.2 million grassroots organisations as of 2012, which recruited 3.23 million members that year alone.
Many parties in the West try to recruit as many members as possible to get the votes they need to become a ruling party, said Wu Hui, an associate professor of governance at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee.
"But China has different conditions. We should emphasise quality, not quantity, of Party members to guarantee its ruling capacity," he said.
Apart from the huge number of Party members placing great pressure on management, the unwieldy structure has become a thorny issue, he said.
"Our studies indicate that Party, government and military organisations at high levels have a high proportion of Party members, while the proportion is very low in village committees, private companies and other grassroots organisations," Wu said.
The Party's central leadership should balance the structure by enlisting more members in rural areas, where they can play a bigger role in helping resolve social issues related to demolition and land acquisitions, he said.
Xu Yaotong, a professor of politics at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said the Party should also try to strengthen evaluation work of its members and expel unqualified ones.