BEIJING (AFP) - China's ruling Communist Party, already the largest in the world, gained 1.56 million members last year, according to figures released on Monday.
The party had 86.7 million members at the end of 2013, its organisation department said in a statement - more than the entire population of Germany.
More than 90 years after being founded and after 64 years in power, the institution now has members ranging from businesspeople to students, some of whom join for status or connections and not out of political loyalty.
Monday's figure represents a 1.8 per cent rise year-on-year, slower than the 3.1 per cent the party saw in 2012, the organisation department said, attributing the decrease to new controls implemented in order to "develop the quality of party members".
Women make up 21.1 million members, or 24.3 per cent, according to the department.
The party's large membership has drawn some criticism from within its own ranks. Last year, Zhang Xien, a political scientist at Shandong University, wrote in a party magazine that "the rapid expansion of party membership has brought the party huge dangers".
"Creating a mechanism for party members to quit is the top priority for building up the party in the new era," he wrote, adding that the party should consider slashing its membership to 51 million people by separating out "preparatory" and "honorary" members.