China's Tuidang Movement Part 3: What the CCP Fears Most

China's Tuidang Movement Part 3: What the CCP Fears Most


Today, the final installment of our 3-part segment on the Tuidang movement. It's a grassroots Chinese movement that few people in the West even know about - but more than 100 million Chinese people have participated in Tuidang. And it's making China's communist leadership nervous about what that could mean for their future.

[Li Fengzhi, Former Intelligence Officer for China's Ministry of State Security]:
"Today I stand here, with my back to the embassy that represents China, and solemnly declare that I am severing all ties with the CCP. This is the conclusion I have come to after lengthy and serious consideration, and it is something from the bottom of my heart."

Li Fengzhi is a former Chinese intelligence officer. In 2009, he publicly announced his withdrawal from the Chinese Communist Party, or CCP.

He's one of millions who've participated in what's called the Tuidang movement. The movement's organizers say there have been more than 100 million participants in total.

Unlike most political movements, Tuidang does not call on its participants to donate money or even take specific action - all they ask is that people state their withdrawal from the CCP.

The movement's organizers view Tuidang as individuals creating a moral or spiritual separation between themselves and the CCP for their own sake, not for the sake of joining a group or a cause.

But in a way, Tuidang has become its own cause. It predicts and promotes an impending collapse of the CCP. And that's why, behind the scenes, the CCP is trying to stop the movement's spread. Especially since more and more of those who withdraw are in fact communist officials.

[Li Dayong, Executive Director, Global Quit CCP Service Center]:
"We have over 100 Service Centers for Quitting the CCP around the world, and we receive a large number of overseas Chinese tourists. Some of these are mid-rank officials, others are high ranking ones, including those in the Party, and political and military organizations. Some use aliases, others even use their real names to withdraw."

The Chinese communist leadership is specifically targeting The Epoch Times' Nine Commentaries editorial series, which catalyzed the Tuidang movement. They've labeled it as contraband literature inside China, and use China's Internet firewall to block access to the online version. And they're cracking down on people who talk about it.

In 2005, dissident author Zhang Lin from Anhui province was sentenced to five years in prison for so-called "inciting subversion of state power" after he published articles online praising the Nine Commentaries.

In this 2006 notice issued by Anhui province's Tianchang City Party Propaganda Department, city officials were told to focus on cracking down on the production and spread of the Nine Commentaries and similar materials. It says,

"Quickly solve cases involving the Nine Commentaries inciting propaganda and eliminate its negative impact."

But despite the CCP's efforts, the Nine Commentaries continues to find its way into China. Volunteers in China hand-deliver copies to their neighborhoods. Anti-censorship software enables savvy computer users to download the full text.

According to a statement from the Global Service Center for Quitting the CCP, within 24 hours of the Nine Commentaries' first publication in November 2004, it was downloaded sixty thousand times. Within two weeks, there were over one million downloads of the text.

Now, almost seven years later, it is impossible to know just how many copies of the Nine Commentaries - whether in electronic or printed form, have been passed through the hands of Chinese people.

But to those who have read it, the impact is undeniable.

[Ms. Liu, Tuidang Volunteer]:
"The Nine Commentaries has said what's in people's hearts, and what it says is true. We know the wickedness of the CCP, and as a member I feel I should withdraw, and no longer be a part of it, or give it strength. Right there and then I wrote an application to withdraw."

And it comes at a time when - beneath China's sparkling skyline - there's massive discontent among Chinese people.

This article in the Daily Telegraph says that Yu Jianrong, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said he recently told CCP cadres that he believed China will, "definitely experience upheaval, and that time is not too far distant." He said there have been more than 90,000 mass protests in China each year since 2007.

People have protested about many things, like corrupt officials, lack of justice in the legal system, and being forced out of their homes.

Many people blame the CCP and its failed governance. And so the Tuidang movement provides a natural outlet for millions of disgruntled Chinese.

[Xia Yifan, Victim of Political Persecution]:
"I hope that my fellow countrymen can bravely express their own opinions, and withdraw from the Chinese Communist Party. Use this action to express their anger at the CCP overtaking the country for the past six decades."

And inside China, notices calling for the demise of the Communist Party have been sprouting up across the country.

Including this one, which accidentally appeared in the cover photo for a state-run newspaper in 2009. The photo featured a celebration of the CCP's upcoming 60 years of rule over China. But in the lower left corner, this text could be seen scrawled on a bike rack: "Heaven condemns the Communist Party. Denounce it and be blessed."

Immediately after the picture was published in the Jinzhou Evening News, Chinese authorities scrambled to pull it from store shelves. The Jinzhou Evening News was investigated, and its production was temporarily suspended.

Even if the CCP doesn't publicly acknowledge the Tuidang movement, it seems to be unnerved by its spread.

[John Nania, Editor-in-Chief, The Epoch Times]:
"We have this quiet, steady erosion of the Communist Party from within. People are withdrawing from this Tuidang movement, this withdraw from the Party movement, and pretty soon the Party will have very little substance left, very few members, very few people believing in it, very few people who pledged an oath to the future of the Communist Party, and one day, I can't predict when, but sooner rather than later, the Communist Party is just going to disappear."

(Reporting by Karen Chang, Shelley Zhang, and Matt Gnaizda. Video editing by Lia Onely.)

Disclosure Note:
NTD has an affiliation with The Epoch Times, publisher of the Nine Commentaries editorial series that is regarded as the catalyst of the Tuidang movement. In 2005, NTD created a video version of the Nine Commentaries and broadcast it via satellite into China, as well as in other places around the globe. This may have had an impact on the Tuidang movement's spread. Watch the Nine Commentaries in English.