Xiaomi has formed its own internal Communist Party committee, raising eyebrows amongst those expecting less state involvement in the nation's burgeoning technology sector.
The newly-launched Hong Kong Free Press reports that state-owned companies in China, including "schools, hospitals, and other public organisations, are required to have a party committee which overseas political affairs."
The committees often fulfil an executive function within their companies, including controlling high-level appointments. The crowd-funded HKFP said: "While many private companies have also set up party committees in recent years, their roles in these companies are largely unknown to the public."
Xiaomi launched its party committee in Beijing on 19 June. The event was attended by municipal officials, who presumably gave speeches fondly remembering that time when the "Apple of China" sold more than two million handsets in 24 hours, and more than 61 million in 2014.
News of the party committee launch, however, was only circulated on Sunday, causing interweb folk to express some disquiet. The HKFP quoted a Weibo user complaining that the party was "everywhere" while another joked that "Apple is going to be taken down by Xiaomi if they don’t set up a party committee as well."
Additional questions were touted about the degree to which the committee might interfere in the running of the business, and whether it would seek to intrude upon decisions which would otherwise have been the prerogative of the board of directors.
Global Times, a pro-government tabloid, published a comment piece on Monday which supported the integration of private and party groupings throughout Chinese society. A machine translation suggests that what they the Party thinks is: "To date, almost not heard of the Party hinder the development of private enterprises in the country examples."
The South China Morning Post reported that "it is common practice for state-owned enterprises to have party committees, but big non-state-run companies like search giant Baidu and online media firm Sina have also set up party committees in recent years."
Xiaomi has over 8,000 employees, of which 104 are party members — about 1.3 per cent. On a national level the party had 82.6 million members in 2011, or 6.13 per cent of the Chinese population. ®