When poorly constructed elementary school buildings collapsed in Wenchuan, China, after a massive earthquake in 2008, parents wanted answers. Rather than launching an investigation or tallying the student deaths, however, agents of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) infiltrated the parent groups, broke them up, arrested the recalcitrants, and jailed a man trying to help them.
A similar dynamic happened after the poisoned milk powder scandal broke in 2008. The man who lobbied on behalf of the parents, and whose child was also a victim, ended up in jail.
Meanwhile, millions of peaceful Chinese citizens are monitored, arrested, and tortured to death, because the CCP considers their religious beliefs to be a threat to its rule.
The Chinese regime also crushes all attempts by anyone organizing politically—hence hopes for a future China without these depredations seem bleak.
Enter “Tuidang,” meaning, “Renounce the Party.”
Yan Zhijun is the archetype of a Tuidang activist. A 62-year-old Chinese woman with a broad, disarming smile, she started promoting Tuidang in early 2005, on a trip from the United States back to China.
Xia Ming’s entry is recorded somewhere in the tidal wave of 55,000 new statements that appear on the website each day—every one of them stating a time, ID number, and number of people making a renunciation.
It began with a small circle of family members. She would remind them of the horrors of Communist Party rule, past and present, and simply ask, “Do you want to be part of that?”
After she got back from China, her Tuidang activities picked up momentum. From family members and friends she extended the circle to friends of friends, former school students and teachers, and then strangers (she now says everyone she meets is like a “brother or sister,” and if they’re Chinese, she talks about Tuidang.)
People who hadn’t heard from her for four decades were surprised to get a phone call, she in America, explaining why they needed to sever ties with the Chinese Communist Party. She’s helped 1,800 people resign, by her own calculations.
The idea of severing ties with an organization, which one might not be a formal member of may seem strange, except for the fact that the CCP is no normal organization. Since taking power in 1949 it has forced the populace to swear allegiance to it, dominated or attempted to control every aspect of life in China, and implicated a large swathe of the populace in its misdeeds.
In the words of the “Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party,” an editorial series published by The Epoch Times in the fall of 2004 that gave birth to the movement, under CCP rule: “Traditional faiths and principles have been violently destroyed. Original ethical concepts and social structures have been disintegrated by force. Empathy, love, and harmony among people have been twisted into struggle and hatred.”
The result has been predictable: “A total collapse of social, moral, and ecological systems, and a profound crisis for the Chinese people … brought about through the deliberate planning, organization, and control of the CCP.”
Chinese people get it. An experience of the CCP is the common denominator for every person who grew up on the mainland, and as Tuidang activists see it, it is time for the Chinese people to determine their own fate.
The concern is not with severing one’s ties physically or professionally with the CCP. One can use an alias to quit the Party, and even go back to work as a Party official as long as the psychological separation has been made. “Gods look at one’s heart,” Tuidang participants repeatedly say.
Participants explain that Tuidang peacefully dissolves the Party, one renunciation at a time. Tuidang also provides participants with the chance to separate themselves from the crimes and corruption of the CCP. Caylan Ford, a graduate of George Washington University, writes in her master’s thesis on Tuidang that it offers Chinese people a path to “solace, moral redemption, and freedom by severing their psychic and symbolic ties to the Communist Party.”