China says foreign firms welcome benefits from internal Communist Party cells

BEIJING, Oct 19 (Reuters) - Foreign companies operating in China have welcomed the ruling Communist Party to set up cells in their firms, as a way of helping them understand Chinese policies and resolve disputes, a senior party official said on Thursday.

President Xi Jinping's efforts to strengthen the party's role throughout society have reached the China operations of foreign companies, some of whose executives have expressed concern about the resulting demands they face.

The presence of party units has long been a fact of doing business in China, where the law requires companies, including foreign firms, to set up a party organisation, though many executives long saw the measure as symbolic, rather than a real concern.

Party cells in foreign firms have been well received, said Qi Yu, a deputy head of the Communist Party's Organisation Department.

"Senior executives at some foreign invested companies say party organisations can help them to understand in a timely manner Chinese policies, to resolve salary disputes, and provide positive energy for the company's development," said Qi.

"The vast majority of investors welcome and support party organisations to have activities in their company," he told a news conference on the sidelines of a key party congress that is held every five years.

A U.S. executive had said his best workers were party members, said Supervision Minister Yang Xiaodu, who is also a deputy at the party's graft-busting Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, describing his talk with the executive.

"So he said, 'I hope the company can have more Communist Party members and that party organisations can do more,"' added Yang, who was seated beside Qi. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)