When one group stands up and simply says, “No” to being suppressed, what effect does that have on a country long ruled by an authoritarian, communist regime?
“It’s huge,” says Tang Baiqiao, a veteran Chinese democracy activist. Tang was a student leader during the Tiananmen movement in 1989 and has been active since then. A change has taken place over the last several years because of a movement begun by practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual practice that has been persecuted in China since 1999. That movement is called Tuidang, or “Quit the Party.”
“In the past people wanted to change specific policies of the CCP. Now it’s different,” says Tang. “Now people want it to just scram, step down from power. Fast. Tuidang shows people a very good way to do something. It’s a nonviolent form of resistance.”
The Tuidang movement began late in 2004, soon after the publication by The Epoch Times of the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party, known as jiuping in Chinese, first as an editorial series and then as a book.
Participants in Tuidang can use their real names or a pseudonym to declare their renunciation of the Party. Often Tuidang participants are not formal Party members, but they can add their names to the rolls of renouncers all the same. Nearly all Chinese people born after 1949 were inducted into both the Young Pioneers and the Youth League, communist mass organizations that penetrate society and disseminate Party dogma. Tuidang calls on Chinese people to cut their ties from those affiliations.
According to the Global Service Center for Quitting the CCP, over 120 million people have renounced any affiliation with the Party.
“Tuidang is about noncooperation and resistance to the CCP’s violent rule. Just like the spirit of Gandhi’s resistance movement was nonviolent noncooperation. This is what Tuidang is for China. But so many dissident groups in China were cooperating with the CCP. Tuidang was the first movement that fundamentally changed the way people thought about their relationship to the CCP: completely cutting their ties from it,” said Tang Baiqiao.
Tang thinks it will eventually lead to the democratization of China.
The concept of the Tuidang movement stemmed initially from the activism of Falun Gong practitioners—a form of resistance that had never been seen before in China, according to several dissidents.
“Under the whole violent, totalitarian CCP, there has been wave after wave of crazy persecution and attacks, but there has never been an organization or group that openly stands up and protects its legal rights,” said Guo Guoting, an exiled Chinese human rights lawyer now living in Canada, in a previous interview.
“When Falun Gong started doing this, every Chinese person was taken off guard,” he said.
“It’s been an ongoing process, an extraordinarily tenacious process of protecting their rights to their beliefs, a display of persistence and dauntlessness,” he said.
Guo said that just as Martin Luther King and Gandhi promoted nonviolent resistance, so, “In China this movement of nonviolent, civil disobedience is precisely Falun Gong. I think it has given every sector of Chinese society an extremely meaningful and effective path: peaceful appeal and protest, peaceful noncooperation.”
Unlike previous dissident movements or anti-Party publications, Falun Gong practitioners, assisted by the Internet and with fearless volunteers in every city and town, have been able to deliver the message of Tuidang far and wide.
Continued on the next page: China’s Future