By Calling Out Community, Posted April 14, 2015. Updated January 6, 2016
Rising amongst scrubby farmland of rural Henan province in East-Central China, a 36.6 meter (120 foot)steel and concrete statue of Mao Tse-Tung (Zedong), the founding father of the People’s Republic of China, looms large over the country’s politics and society, resplendent with a gleaming coat of golden paint.
Businessmen and some rural communities chipped in nearly 3 million yuan ($459,000) to build the conspicuous tribute, completed in December 2015, according to Chinese state media.
Love him or hate him, “Chairman Mao” and the Communist Party of China (CPC) that he founded on October 1, 1949 have loomed equally large across this vast nation of 1.3 billion people. In fact, during the 120th anniversary of his birth in 2013, a solid-gold likeness was installed with pride in a memorial hall in Shaoshan – at a value of over $30 million.
Regardless of the desperate clinging of some for the old CPC heyday, the Party is dying a slow, painful death. Some may point to the death of the Chairman himself in 1976 as the primary reason, but most would point to May 2000 on a calendar – when a group of Chinese-American Falun Gong practitioners founded a small newspaper called the Epoch Times – as the beginning of the end for the Party.
From its humble foundations as a daily newspaper in Chinese, the Epoch Times grew quickly into a massive, multi-language, international media company in print and online. Headquartered in New York City, the paper is now published in 9 print languages (including English) and web versions in 21 other languages – and with a circulation of more than 1 million copies distributed weekly in newspaper boxes in 35 countries free of charge (including here in Greater Vancouver, Canada where I live and work), it is one of the most powerful voices about China in the world today.
The award-winning newspaper covers matters of general interest, though it maintains a focus on news about China and human rights issues there, drawing from a network of sources inside China, plus the expertise and contacts of Chinese expatriates living in the West. It is also considered increasingly dangerous to the CPC regime, ensuring its websites are continuously (and perhaps even feverishly) blocked within China.
Why? In November 2004, the Epoch Times published an editorial series called “Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party,” an uncensored history of the Communist Party in China. And instantly, it struck a chord with the Chinese people around the world.
Soon after the series was published the paper began receiving tens of thousands of statements from Chinese expressing their unhappiness with the Party and their desire to withdraw from it. Sensing a wind of change blowing throughout the country, a grass-roots movement known as Tuidang sprang up (Mandarin for “Quit the Party“) in January 2005 – giving the Chinese people the opportunity for the first time in nearly 60 years to separate themselves psychically and morally from the Communist regime and express their intention… that it should end.
Soon, a Tuidang Center was opened and began to solicit statements of renunciation from individuals who are or have been members of the Chinese Communist Party and its affiliated youth organizations, the Young Pioneers and Communist Youth League. These renunciations are then published on the Center’s Chinese-language website.
Today, more than 20 million volunteers assist more than 1.5 million people a month to do just that – formally renounce (often in writing) the Communist Party in China, as well as any oaths they may have sworn in th past. As the numbers of the renouncers grew, the fear (or even the possibility) of being singled out for punishment by the government diminished greatly.
So successful has been this campaign, that on April 14, 2015, the movement celebrated the 200 millionth renunciation. 99% of those individual statements have been traced back to mainland China itself – an amazing accomplishment when one considers that no one living within China can access information about the movement online.
For over 65 years, the nation of 1.3 billion had been burdened with political oppression, entrenched corruption, and a deteriorating natural environment. Now, they can feel a fresh breeze of change, and by the millions annually, they are embracing that change wholeheartedly.
A former officer working at Tiananmen Square in Beijing with the People’s Armed Police posted this statement on the Tuidang website in 2007:
“Back then, I didn’t see the truth and took part in the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. Now I understand. I hereby renounce my Young Pioneers and Youth League membership, and declare void the oaths I once made [to those organizations.]” (emphasis mine)
China has a bright future ahead if this movement can continue unhindered. May God continue to bless this incredible thirst for change and freedom in Communist China.