Chinese people are getting fed up, and stating so publicly.
Generations of Chinese have had to live in fear and under persecution. First it was the landowners. Then it was the artists, musicians, intellectuals, and the Buddhists. Eventually it was the Falun Gong’s turn. It seems that every few years a different whim has driven China’s Communist Party to deem another group “counter-revolutionary” or a “threat to social stability,” and imprison and kill them.
Now, the regime that claims to belong to “the people” has been abandoned by 37 million of those very people.
A massive movement is sweeping China, building momentum each day: Chinese citizens are publicly renouncing their membership in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the Communist Youth League, and the [Communist] Young Pioneers. That is, anything that would make them officially communist.
By all appearances, this may well mark the beginning of the end of communism in China. Never before—not even in 1989 with the Tiananmen demonstrations—was such a bold statement made.
It is a movement that Chinese authorities don’t want people to know about, of course. News of it is hard to come by via mainstream channels, as quitting the Party is a dangerous and subversive act in a land of no-choice. But the declarations are appearing daily—on the Internet, on telephone poles, scrawled on walls—and in droves. Over 30,000 a day recently, to be precise.
For many, the Party’s campaign in recent years to “eradicate” the popular Falun Gong meditation practice was the last straw. The renunciation statement of Mr. Gao Zhisheng, one of China’s best-known human rights attorneys, is telling.
“Over a dozen days’ close contact with Falun Gong believers has shocked me to the core… I have now come to know of indescribable violence done to these kind people,” Gao declared in his public statement quitting the Party. “I have lost all hope in the Chinese Communist Party. The CCP has employed the most barbarous and most immoral and unlawful means to torture our mothers, our wives, our children, and our brothers and sisters.”
Gao went so far as to proclaim, “This is the proudest day of my life.”
The movement to quit the Party was brought about by a publication known as the “Nine Commentaries on the [Chinese] Communist Party,” published by the Epoch Times. It spells out in clear and strong terms all that the Party has put the Chinese people through since it took power in 1949. It tells a history the Party has buried beneath layers of “patriotic education” and censorship, unknown to most all.
In 2005 the Commentaries won a top award from the Asian American Journalists Association.
The violent suppression of the Falun Gong figures prominently in the Commentaries, as one might expect, given that roughly 8% of China’s population was practicing it when it was banned in 1999, and as many as millions may have been imprisoned and tortured since. Party authorities have yet to so much as once hold perpetrators of such torture accountable.
Since the first publication of the Commentaries in November 2004 (then online), more than 37 million Chinese people have publicly renounced their CCP membership.
Why quit the Party? For most Chinese people, like Mr. Gao, it’s a matter of conscience. Many of these daring quitters have told a personal tale—in case after case one reads of family and friends having been victims of CCP machinations.
Brothers Jin Yu and Jin Chun, in a joint declaration posted in May 2005, recalled the many state-sponsored murders they had witnessed in their locale over the years. Victims ranged from landlords who were killed and then publicly dismembered to entire groups, whose bodies were obliterated with grenades afterward. Reading the Commentaries, the brothers wrote, “these past memories come back to us and send a chill down the spine.”
Other renunciates have tied the CCP to the rampant corruption and gang activity plaguing today’s China. Official efforts in China to curb corruption, some feel, are no better than asking Al Capone to crack down on crime in 1920’s Chicago.
The public declarations are also an assertion of a most notable sort: the right to free speech. In a country that jails more journalists than anyone else in the world (and blocks, literally, millions of Web pages), to speak one’s mind is no small thing.
So in a nation this tightly controlled, how exactly do people quit?
The majority have quit the Party through online channels, most notably by posting statements on the Epoch Times Website.
But just reaching an uncensored website is a feat. One has to use sophisticated software to circumnavigate the CCP’s vast phalanx of Internet filters and monitoring. One such offering, called DynaWeb, has reportedly had hundreds of thousands quit the Party via its technology (sample declarations can be read in Chinese at http://tuidang.dajiyuan.com, and statements of support, in English, are found at http://declaration.epochtimes.com).
Those less technically savvy often resort to posting statements in public places. On any given day throughout China declarations may be seen most anywhere and everywhere—billboards, trees, phonebooths, walls, and so on.
Outside China, withdrawals have taken on an additional, and dramatic form: defections. Since the publication of the Commentaries, several prominent Chinese officials have joined in, formally breaking off from their diplomatic ranks.
The defection of Chen Yonglin, then Political Affairs Attaché at the Chinese Consulate in Sydney, Australia, is but one prominent example. Chen, like many of his kin in China, was put off by the inanity of efforts to stomp out Falun Gong. In his case, Chen had been assigned to sabotage activities of the Falun Gong—in Australia, of all things.
In China and beyond, the people are standing up, and choosing. And if the writing on the wall means anything, it’s clear what they want: a future without the Communist Party.