The Communist Party is calling on cadres to pay membership dues “actively, on time and in person,” in its latest move to reinforce loyalty and adherence to party discipline. The mouthpiece newspaper of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the party’s corruption watchdog, said in an article on Wednesday that when it came to paying party fees, it was less about the money than the spirit. “Paying party membership fees in person is a process of alerting [oneself and reminding oneself of] the party spirit...No matter how good our life has become, we should never forget this root of being a communist, and especially should not regard it as a trouble or loss,” it reads. The commentary agreed with Yunnan ( 雲南 ) provincial party chief Li Jiheng’s recent request for the province’s officials to hand in membership dues in person. READ MOREL: ‘Absolute loyalty’: Top Xi Jinping aide demands Communist Party units toe the line Li lamented that over the years, paying membership dues had become a passive, involuntary act. “Some people ask their secretaries to do it for them, some only pay every half a year, some ask accountants to subtract [from their salaries]...These are all wrong. Cadres should go to the party groups or branches where they belong to hand in the fees themselves,” Li told a group of officials on Sunday. Ding Xueliang, a Chinese politics professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said since the party took power in 1949, paying membership fees was no longer important in economic terms. Instead, “the significance now lies mainly in showing organisational loyalty and cadres’ discipline,” he said. Steve Tsang, a senior fellow at the China Policy Institute at the University of Nottingham, agreed. “Given that there is at the moment no clear distinction between the party and the state, the party does not need the fees to support its operations, though more resources are always helpful,” Tsang said. “This is really about party loyalty and discipline, not about the financial position of the party...What [President Xi Jinping ( 習近平 )] is trying to do is to revive the party into an effective Leninist instrument, for which loyalty and discipline of party members are essential. “Members who do not pay their fees do not have a real commitment to the party and what it represents. Hence, it is important for the party to insist on its members paying the fees,” he said. Like income tax, party dues are calculated based on members’ monthly salaries. Those who earn less than 3,000 yuan (HK$3,560) per month pay 0.5 per cent of their earnings, and those who earn more than 10,000 yuan pay 2 per cent. Students, unemployed workers and those who rely on government relief pay as little as 0.2 yuan per month. READ MORE: China’s Communist Party warned to not make money on Taobao or WeChat: e-commerce seen as source of graft This means that the well-paid senior executives at state-owned enterprises, who are usually party members, pay a large portion of the membership fees per year. CCDI inspectors found last year that cadres at some state-owned enterprises were not paying their membership dues despite receiving large salaries. Last month, the watchdog published an article on its website to criticising such laxity, saying that failure to pay party membership dues was a “very serious problem”. According to the party’s charter, a member who fails to pay membership dues for six successive months without good reason is regarded as having given up membership. As of the end of 2014, the party had 87.8 million members and the Central Organisation Department said its membership income, including deposit interest, was 296 million yuan. Of that, 274 million yuan came from membership dues collected by local party organs. According to party rules, 5 per cent of the membership dues collected at the local level are turned over to the central party committee. This suggests that a total of at least 5.5 billion yuan of membership fees were paid by cadres in 2014.