BBC News has a somewhat droll “how-to article” that provides step-by-step instructions for clawing your way to a high position in the CCP. Of course most of these steps are nearly impossible for the vast majority of those struggling to make it into the Standing Committee or the Politburo, as they call for lots of patronage and connections, though hard work and good luck can help as well, as it did for Hu Jintao, who spent four years working arduous hours in Tibet. Oh, and it also pays to be a male.
Only about a quarter of Party members are women. No woman has ever reached the Politburo’s standing committee, its highest decision-making body. In the wider, 24-strong Politburo, only one woman, Liu Yandong, has a seat.
The last rule of thumb might be the most important: Be ruthless.
Ambitious leaders are advised to first read Houheixue, or Thick Black Theory – a classic of political dark arts published in the last century. It says the weapons needed to succeed are a thick skin, which is immune to shame or guilt, and a black heart, hardened to hurting others for your own gain.
This somewhat tongue-in-cheek primer on how to succeed in the CCP is worth a look, if only for a smile. But behind the humor, all of it is probably true.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.