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Commentary: Why Chinese state companies are getting the Communist party's attention

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BEIJING: When the head of a US multinational's China operations recently sat down for talks with the chairman of a large state-owned enterprise (SOE), he was surprised when his old friend presented him with a new business card.

The two men had met regularly over the years to review matters at a joint venture established by their companies, but on this occasion the Chinese executive was not just representing his SOE.

In addition to his chairman title, he was also now secretary of the SOE's Communist party committee.

"I thought 'Oh, this is new'," the foreign manager said. "He had never mentioned the party committee before."

The ruling Chinese Communist party has maintained representative committees inside SOEs for decades, but they were often moribund bodies.

That has been changing over recent years, as President Xi Jinping and the head of his anti-corruption campaign, Wang Qishan, seek to extend the ruling party's representation in - and control over - the state-backed groups.


To most western executives and analysts, the party's higher profile at SOEs undermines the authority of their company boards and is more bad news for state-sector reform, which they feel has been........

© Channel NewsAsia