I was heartened to see how Lech Walesa, the former president of Poland, a co-founder of the Solidarity trade union, and Nobel Peace Prize winner, sent a letter of support to Tuidang, a peaceful Chinese grassroots freedom movement.
If you’re perhaps of a younger generation and you aren’t sure who Walesa is, he was one of the key figures in the 1980s who helped bring down communism not only in his home country of Poland, but across Eastern Europe.
Probably less known in the West is Tuidang, which literally means “withdraw from the Party” in Mandarin Chinese. The “Party” – that being the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) – which has brutally ruled the Middle Kingdom since 1949.
The current number of Tuidang withdrawals is 200 million.
Walsea’s letter was sent to a Tuidang center-hosted roundtable discussion on the global demise of communism held on June 11 in Kiev, Ukraine.
“Full with hope is the fact that over 200 million people in China have united in a grassroots movement: Tuidang, renouncing communism. This movement, this history’s tsunami, as I deeply believe, nothing is able to stop anymore. No one can stop a spirit of freedom and truth,” read part of Walesa’s letter, which I have posted in full at the end of this article for you to read.
The Tuidang movement began at the end of 2004 in response to the editorial series the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party which is printed by Epoch Times. Highly critical of the CCP and its history, copies of it quickly spread underground throughout China. Since then, the movement has collected the names of 200 million people who have renounced their ties to the Party.
“At its very core, Tuidang goes beyond political activism; it is the process of Chinese people clearing their conscience of years of Party culture indoctrinated in them through revolutionary campaigns, propaganda, media censorship, imprisonment, and mass killings over the past 65 years,” says the Tuidang website. “It finally gives Chinese people a chance to reflect on their own lives without the CCP and to envision a free China.”
The number of people who have withdrawn from the Party is tallied on the Chinese language website of the Epoch Times and on Tuidang’s own website.
These three 6-minute reports below were done when the number of withdrawals reached 100 million and they tell the Tuidang movement’s story much better than I ever could:
China’s Tuidang Movement Part 1—Why 100 Million People Are Leaving the CCP:
China’s Tuidang Movement Part 2—Who’s Behind China’s Largest Anti-CCP Movement?
China’s Tuidang Movement Part 3—What the CCP Fears Most
Being based in Thailand for the past six or so years, it has been a while since I have heard about Tuidang. Ten years ago, not long after it began, I was very much aware.
One of the big news stories of 2005 in Australia was when Chen Yonglin, the former first secretary of the Sydney Chinese Consulate General, defected.
His claims that there were a thousand Chinese spies operating in Australia got front page coverage, as did the apparent reluctance of the Australian government to help him, presumably so as not to ruffle any diplomatic feathers with Beijing.
What didn’t get much publicity was how Chen resigned from the Chinese Communist Party as part of the Tuidang movement, and how his reading of the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party played a large role in his decision to defect.
As a journalist, I attended a press conference that Chen was at, along with another man who had just defected, a 32-year-old named Hao Fengjun*, who was a member of a Chinese security agency called the 610 Office**. Hao backed up Chen’s claims about Chinese espionage activity, and gave details on not only the spy network in Australia, but Canada as well.
At that Sydney press conference, I remember Hao saying that if anyone in China used their real name in the Tuidang movement, they would get thrown into a reeducation through labor camp for a minimum of two years.
For safety reasons, Tuidang does not require people to use their real names. As the old saying goes: ‘It’s the thought that counts.’
As this movement continues, you might just hear more about it in the not too distant future.
Please find Lech Walesa’s letter of support for Tuidang and the 200 million renunciations thus far below:
A conference on de-communization is a next step in de-communizing social relationships and the national system. It is vivid proof of changes happening in your country.
Communism, as a system deprived of human values, is incompatible with the progress of civilization, and from the beginning was fated, sooner or later, to bankruptcy. The fall of this anti-human system is not only the effect of historical justice, not only the result of the resistance of entire generations, but as well, or rather first of all, the effect of trusting and entrusting a nation to God’s will.
The toil of the Polish nation to reclaim independence is not only the result of mobilizing the entire society, but as well the well-remembered words of the Polish Pope, Saint John Paul II, spoken in Warsaw in 1988: “Let Your Spirit come down here and change the face of this land, of this land!”. When those words were spoken no one believed in the fall of communism. But still. People’s and the nation’s aspirations for freedom, democratic life, and respect for human rights, no one and nothing is able to stop. In Poland those changes happened already the following year, 1989.
Full with hope is the fact that over 200 million people in China have united in a grassroots movement: Tuidang, renouncing communism. This movement, this history’s tsunami, as I deeply believe, nothing is able to stop anymore. No one can stop a spirit of freedom and truth.
Just like once God put me ahead of a movement, which overthrew communism in Poland and Europe, the same today puts in front of me a task to support all those, whose fight is not yet finished.
But do remember though, that overthrowing communism is not only the effect of history’s justice, this is as well the beginning of a very difficult road of system change, building a new society based on democracy, the respect of individual rights and freedom of belief and faith. This is as well very difficult, a process of changing society’s mentality that will take many generations. This process is full not only of successes, but as well failures and temporary setbacks. Do not ever give up. I never did.
I send you all my greetings and I wish you all success in the hard but how honorable work.
*Hao’s decision to defect was based on being witness to the aftermath of 610 officers torturing an elderly woman who was a practitioner of Falun Gong.
**The 610-Office was established by the communist authorities to oversee the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners and other Chinese who belonged to non-state sanctioned spiritual groups.