China's ruling Communist Party says it recruited almost 15 percent fewer new members last year as if focuses on better qualified candidates.

A party statement said that accounting for deaths and other losses, membership expanded by 1.1 million members, or 1.3 percent in 2014, to a total of 87.79 million. An additional 56,000 party units were added in offices and companies nationwide for a total of 4.36 million.

However, recruitment of new members fell by 14.6 percent to just over 2 million, or 351,000 fewer than in 2013. Of those new recruits, 82 percent were below age 35 and 38 percent had at least a college degree, 2.6 percent more than in 2013.

Chinese president and Communist leader Xi Jinping has sought to strengthen party control while weeding out corruption.