Can 200,000 Chinese ex-communists be wrong?

This is one of those blog posts where I have to say up front that I don’t know enough to gauge the significance of the event I’m posting about. That said, the information is interesting enough to link and mention. Apparently the Chinese Communist Party has been suffering from a rash of resignations as of ...

By , a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

This is one of those blog posts where I have to say up front that I don't know enough to gauge the significance of the event I'm posting about. That said, the information is interesting enough to link and mention. Apparently the Chinese Communist Party has been suffering from a rash of resignations as of late -- approximately 200,000 in four months. At The Epoch Times, Stephen Gregory reports on what's going on:

On November 19, 2004 The Epoch Times published in Chinese the first of “The Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party”. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been scrambling ever since to find a way to respond. The “Nine Commentaries” are a book-length set of nine editorials that tell the true history of the CCP. Written under the auspices of The Epoch Times editorial board, the authorship is anonymous. The “Nine Commentaries” lay out the Party’s crimes: its campaigns of mass murder, brainwashing and terror; the 80 million plus unnatural deaths; the avoidable famines; the degradation of the environment; the corruption that goes from top to bottom, and much more.... On December 3, 2004 The Epoch Times established the Tuidang (“withdraw from the Party”) website in order to give the people of China the opportunity to renounce their membership in the CCP and its related organizations, such as the Communist Youth League (CYL). On December 4, the website received its first solemn declarations by Party members who wished to renounce all ties with the CCP. In December the rate of such statements was a few hundred a day. But the rate has increased exponentially. On March 7, the Tuidang website recorded over 22,000 renunciations. The website has been limited in the number it can post by its ability physically to keep up with the huge volume of statements.... The CCP and its state-controlled media have not publicly responded to the “Nine Commentaries”. This is not surprising. If the CCP were to issue a statement condemning the “Nine Commentaries,” then everyone in China would want to know more about them.

Now, the thing is, the CCP isn't the only institution that hasn't responded to these resignations -- I can't find a non-Epoch Times report on this. On the other hand, they've been all over the story. What's going on? Gregory is candid in an e-mail he sent to me:

This is one of those blog posts where I have to say up front that I don’t know enough to gauge the significance of the event I’m posting about. That said, the information is interesting enough to link and mention. Apparently the Chinese Communist Party has been suffering from a rash of resignations as of late — approximately 200,000 in four months. At The Epoch Times, Stephen Gregory reports on what’s going on:

On November 19, 2004 The Epoch Times published in Chinese the first of “The Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party”. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been scrambling ever since to find a way to respond. The “Nine Commentaries” are a book-length set of nine editorials that tell the true history of the CCP. Written under the auspices of The Epoch Times editorial board, the authorship is anonymous. The “Nine Commentaries” lay out the Party’s crimes: its campaigns of mass murder, brainwashing and terror; the 80 million plus unnatural deaths; the avoidable famines; the degradation of the environment; the corruption that goes from top to bottom, and much more…. On December 3, 2004 The Epoch Times established the Tuidang (“withdraw from the Party”) website in order to give the people of China the opportunity to renounce their membership in the CCP and its related organizations, such as the Communist Youth League (CYL). On December 4, the website received its first solemn declarations by Party members who wished to renounce all ties with the CCP. In December the rate of such statements was a few hundred a day. But the rate has increased exponentially. On March 7, the Tuidang website recorded over 22,000 renunciations. The website has been limited in the number it can post by its ability physically to keep up with the huge volume of statements…. The CCP and its state-controlled media have not publicly responded to the “Nine Commentaries”. This is not surprising. If the CCP were to issue a statement condemning the “Nine Commentaries,” then everyone in China would want to know more about them.

Now, the thing is, the CCP isn’t the only institution that hasn’t responded to these resignations — I can’t find a non-Epoch Times report on this. On the other hand, they’ve been all over the story. What’s going on? Gregory is candid in an e-mail he sent to me:

To avoid the suspicion I am attempting to hype a story, I should point out a few things about these resignations. First, the resignations or withdrawals are from the CCP and its affiliated organizations, such as the Communist Youth League (CYL), which almost all Chinese are required to join. Second, the resignations, or perhaps more accurately, renunciations, are from any association with the Party, even if that association is many years in the past. Thus, former members of the CCP and former members of the CYL are posting their withdrawals to organizations of which technically they are no longer members. Third, in order to protect those who are withdrawing from harm, the website accepts resignations made under assumed names. Fourth, the relatives of deceased family members are allowed to post withdrawals on behalf of their now dead relatives. Finally, while the pace of resignations has increased rapidly all along, it really shot up after the founder of Falun Gong, Li Hongzhi, published his own withdrawal from the CYL on the Epoch Times. Having said all of that, the resignations are real, and they represent a real and dramatic challenge to the rule of the CCP. And, given the amount of detail included in the resignation statements, they often are done at great risk, even if they are done under an alias. These resignations are the most important story in China today, and no one outside the Epoch Times is covering them.

So there it is. I’ll leave it to my readers to decide how much weight to put on this. I would also love to see the mainstream media do some digging on this story.

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, where he is the co-director of the Russia and Eurasia Program. Twitter: @dandrezner

Tag: Theory

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