China gains 1.1 million more Communists: state media

BEIJING - China's Communist Party gained 1.1 million members last year, state media reported, taking the ruling organisation's membership to almost 88 million, a figure greater than the population of Germany.

Citing a party communique, China's official Xinhua news agency said at the end of 2014 party membership had risen 1.3 per cent year-on-year.

The rise "showed the Party's vigour and vitality have been strengthened", it added in the report late Monday.

The Communist Party has dominated the country since 1949 and the figures were released ahead of the 94th anniversary of its establishment on Wednesday.

Membership is coveted and can bring benefits in terms of connections in business and academia as well as the prestige associated with being part of the country's ruling class.

But since its general secretary Xi Jinping came to power the organisation has engaged in a high-profile campaign to root out incessant graft that leaders have warned threatens its continued rule over the country.

The drive has snared thousands of officials at all levels, with the country's former security chief Zhou Yongkang jailed for life on corruption charges by a court in early June, making him the highest-ranking ex-official to be sentenced in decades.

Party committees have sought to control membership growth to emphasise quality, the Xinhua report said. Party members account for less than seven per cent of China's total population of 1.37 billion.

The party last year recruited a total of about 2.1 million new members, the report said, 351,000 fewer than in 2013.

The figures suggested an emphasis on youth and education, with 1.693 million new members being under 35.

Of new members, 38.8 per cent had university or graduate degrees, up 2.6 percentage points from 2013.

Female members also increased, the figures showed, with 21.672 million women on the party roll last year.

Members identified as workers totalled 7.342 million, the figures showed, while 25.937 million were engaged in farming, herding or fishing.

A total of 12.532 million were identified as professionals, 9.016 million as administrative staff while 7.397 million were described as workers in party and government offices. The total membership was 87.793 million.