This is the first entry in our ongoing series attempting to give straightforward answers to frequently asked questions about China. See the introduction to the series here. As we post new entries, they will be archived on our FAQ page.

When talking with people unfamiliar with China, they often ask questions like, “If you’re a communist and you’re Chinese, why aren’t you a member of the CCP? Do most Chinese workers or regular people really support the CCP? Do they think they live in a socialist society?” Since this first set of questions specifically addresses the experiences of PRC citizens, we compiled answers from our Chinese members and other friends from mainland China. (Future installments of this series will be written collectively by our editorial group as a whole, including non-Chinese members.) Below are the English translations of answers from each respondent, in some cases divided into several responses to each specific question. These are then followed by the original Chinese versions of the same questions and answers. Random pseudonyms have been assigned to protect the respondents.

Throughout this series, we encourage readers to reformat these answers for use across platforms. If you’ve designed pamphlets, infographics or other media using these materials, please send them to us (e-mail: chuangcn@riseup.net) so that we can archive them here and repost on social media.



aIf you’re a communist and you’re Chinese, why aren’t you a member of the CCP?

How is this different from asking American or Japanese communists why they aren’t members of the CPUSA or the JCP? Communist Parties are not the same thing as communists in any country.

When I was a child, books and television would describe how, in the past, people’s lives had improved under the leadership of the CCP, and only those individuals with the greatest spirit of sacrifice could join the party, so “joining the party” seemed like a sacred thing. But I grew up after the Reform and Opening, when various phenomena in society and my family’s contradictory attitude toward the CCP filled me with doubts about this society, which was officially termed “the initial stage of socialism.” In college I applied to join the party, but I noticed that our Party Branch Secretary was the most distasteful (庸俗) person in our school, and the “perks” of membership such as precedence in getting a job as a civil servant held no attraction for me, so the whole idea of joining became distasteful. Later I came to realize that the CCP truly had nothing to do with communism, so my interest in it completely disappeared.

bDo most Chinese workers or regular people really support the CCP?

In general, workers are oppressed, so their feelings toward the CCP are not positive, or more precisely, they dislike “bureaucrats” (官) or anyone in a position of power. Although many state officials are party members, it is their social position rather than their party affiliation that directly affects workers’ interests. As far as workers are concerned, it is “the government” rather than the CCP that they experience as a concrete entity. Of course, everyone knows that the government is led by the party, so to support the government is to support the CCP and vice versa. As far as I have seen, workers have not seriously considered whether to “support” or “oppose” the CCP or the government. On the one hand, the ability to achieve continued improvement of their material lives after working hard has translated into little motivation for considering things on a political level. On the other, the objective condition of complete powerlessness means that when their interests are hurt, the government is the place where they seek out justice in an attempt to solve their problems. When the government then represses them, some workers give up, while others turn to alternative means in pursuit of justice.  

By contrast, shimin (市民—urban intermediate strata) and intellectuals have a slightly higher social status, and in recent years more and more of these people have “had their chives cut” (割韭菜—their savings swallowed up by the state or private monopolies through financial or legal means), so more of them oppose CCP rule, calling for freedom of speech, human rights, Western-style democracy, etc.

cDo they think they live in a socialist society?

For workers without much schooling, this society is everywhere “the bosses’ society.” The question of whether it is socialist doesn’t mean anything. As for the idea of “public property” (公有制), due to many years of state propaganda, many people believe that the past system of public property was bad because “everyone eating from one big pot” fostered laziness and a few individuals would use their power for private advantage, etc. By contrast, the current system of private property may ironically seem more “fair,” since I can get paid for my labor and thereby improve my life. If the boss doesn’t pay, or pays too little, then the fault is attributed to the boss rather than to the system. Due to official propaganda, some people do think that China’s current system is “socialist,” but in this sense they simply equate socialism with authoritarianism.


 I resisted joining the Communist Youth League in high school when practically only three out of forty students were not members, and would not have ever wanted to join the CCP. It was clear to me then that joining was either ritualistic (in school) or necessary or even required (in some leadership positions). There is nothing socialist or communist, or even mildly progressive about the CCP. It is a harder question to ask if regular people and workers in China support the CCP. I think people support – or at least do not consider overturning – the rule of CCP to the extent that, despite commonplace grievances about its corruption and authoritarianism, it has proved to be a resilient and capable ruling party, and there is no alternative party or system in insight. Views on whether people live in a socialist society will depend on if they see CCP as embodying socialism. More than a minority will likely say yes, but they will be hard pressed to explain why China is socialist beyond the fact that a rhetorically socialist political party is in power.

Cheng Yang

I didn’t join CCP because we have conflicting principles. In earlier days when I was a liberal, I detested what the CCP did in June 1989, feeling that this party had betrayed its own people. Now that I’ve turned to communist ideas, I feel even more incompatible with this party than before, since I don’t feel it is going to accomplish the revolution it had originally proclaimed as its goal.

Specifically, the party nowadays claims to be an agent of the people, while in fact it has become an organization placing its own will above that of society. This is exactly the necessary if not sufficient condition for capitalism.

Xiao Hui

I don’t want to align myself with any political party. As for most Chinese workers, I’m not sure, but even people who do join the CCP usually do so for pragmatic reasons such as career advancement, so simply joining it doesn’t mean that they support its policies. As for whether they believe China is socialist, people have a variety of ideas about what they would mean, but most don’t really care….


a If you’re a communist and you’re Chinese, why aren’t you a member of the CCP?

Joining the CCP is no longer related to one’s political orientation at all. It’s usually just a path for one’s own career development and the sense of stability provided by membership within the establishment. When I was in school, those people around me who joined the party all did so out of opportunism. None of them shared any left-wing values, and people with the ability to think independently were rarely interested in hanging out with them. After Xi came to power, there was a re-politicization where the party apparatus again became a force for controlling society. Many employers became unwilling to hire anyone who wasn’t a party member. Now they have quotas, for example at least sixty percent of employees have to be members. In the past only state-owned enterprises had such quotas, but now even foreign enterprise have to do this too. This means that party membership has become even more instrumentalist (something that you just do for a job).

bDo most Chinese workers or regular people really support the CCP?

This question is hard to answer—it has to be situated within different generations and regions. In recent years the CCP has done well in its ideological work, winning over much of the younger generation, with the Great Firewall playing a major role as well. People usually don’t distinguish between the party, the state and the government, and nationalism (国族主义) has been continually whipped up against foreign powers. My overall impression is that the party’s base of support is now larger than it was ten years ago. For example, ten years ago if you took a taxi in Beijing, every driver had something bad to say about the party. At the same time, the category of “workers” is too fragmented nowadays, so it’s hard to generalize. The laid-off state-owned enterprise workers I met in the Northeast a few years ago harbored intense resentment against the CCP, saying that it had betrayed the working class. Young workers in the manufacturing and service sectors are trapped in exploitative jobs and leisure consumption such as livestreaming and [taking out] loans [from shady platforms like Ant Financial for consumption and risky investments like gambling] (网贷), they’re deeply in debt, and they’re generally turned off by politics, having nowhere to direct their anger. Over the past few years, the CCP’s propaganda apparatus has firmly taken root within all kinds of entertainment platforms, and on social media it has become common for ordinary lower-middle class people to add an image of the national flag to their profile pictures. During the evictions of “low-end population” [migrant residents in Beijing in the winter of 2017-2018], the workers and participants in the informal economy that I met in Beijing’s urban villages expressed intense anger and cursed the CCP, but after those events had passed, that sort of collective political mood dispersed as well. The relatively organized workers I’ve met who were plugged into community work and NGO networks generally had a more sober understanding of the party.

cDo they think they live in a socialist society?

I think the official concept of “socialism with Chinese characteristics” has already penetrated deep into people’s minds. Most ordinary people care less about ideological questions of whether China is socialist or capitalist, and more about “self-confidence in the path” [a slogan of Xi Jinping Thought]. By contrast, many older workers in industrial cities describe the current regime as defined by the “restoration” of capitalism, in a strongly negative sense.

Lao Niu

a “If you’re a communist and you’re Chinese, why aren’t you a member of the CCP?”

Nowadays the political goals of the CCP have nothing to do with communism. This is obvious. Its goals are like that of a ship in the ocean, just to maintain the status quo: to maintain the interests of the ruling class.

bDo most Chinese workers or regular people really support the CCP?

This is a question that could only be properly answered after conducting an objective survey, but such a survey would be impossible, so as communists we have to just assess the situation ourselves. Currently there is not much class consciousness, people are content if they can just live out their days on their own, so the question whether to support the CCP is not at the forefront of people’s minds. A lot of people might say that they support the party, especially over the past few years as Xi Jinping has pushed so much party-state propaganda, including the call to “remember our original intentions” (不忘初心), and the efforts to rebuild the party’s historical image—a lot of people probably buy into that. Much of this is done through new social media and video platforms. Some liberals and academic Marxists think these platforms are good, that they could even become a new battleground for resistance, but actually the state is using these platforms to promote so-called “Xi Jinping Thought,” the will of the state.

cDo they think they live in a socialist society?

This is even harder to answer, for one because we need to clarify who the “regular people” are, but what we can be sure of is that nowadays most people no longer use the categories of “capitalism” and “socialism” to distinguish their political positions. Now even Xi Jinping has transformed “socialism with Chinese characteristics” from a political goal into a way of life—including with regard women’s rights, identification with the goal of everyone being “modestly well-off” (小康) or achieving “the good life” along the lines of people like Jack Ma. It’s disconnected from politics. This isn’t a problem with the people, but a result of the state’s efforts to depoliticize the distinction between socialism and capitalism. So most people no longer care about this distinction. But what cannot be denied is that capitalism has its own crises, this is an immutable law, so there will continue to be social contradictions.


This question can be answered on several levels. First, there are many different types of communist theory, each with their own concepts of “the party.” There’s no inherent connection between communism and political parties. Imagine asking anarcho-communists to join a party—isn’t that ridiculous? Second, the relationship between communism and the Chinese Communist Party could be likened to that between socialism and the National Socialist German Workers Party: their names are completely disconnected from their content. Third, it’s not like you can just join the CCP if you want to. A common person like me, who does not contribute at all to state-building or economic development, cannot even touch the door of the CCP. Most importantly, the state just published a circular requiring party members to have three children, saying it’s their socialist duty to help offset the demographic crisis. Someone like me, doomed to remain single, cannot shoulder the burden of the party’s great responsibilities—forget about it.

From our childhood onwards, there’s a great deal of continuity between the role played by the Young Pioneers and the Communist Youth League in schools and that played by the CCP in society as a whole. The Pioneers and the League divide students into ranks with the good students in the front and the bad ones in the back. Those the teachers dislike are never qualified to join the League. Their only function is to cultivate a hierarchical worldview through the differentiation of students into strata, so that we understand that people are not all equal. Members of the Pioneers and the League are qualified to run for positions as “cadres” at the school, are given priority in the granting of awards, and are allowed to wear the League’s shiny badges and neckerchiefs dyed red with the blood of martyrs. In middle school, when we were told to write letters applying for League membership, I had not yet arrived at a sociological understanding of the organization, but my rebellious spirit and disdain for fake shit kept me from joining. Ultimately that didn’t affect me much, except to decrease the number of awards I received. I imagine the CCP is similar.



在跟不熟悉中国的人谈的时候,他们经常会问这样的问题:“如果你是共产主义者,你也是中国人,为什么你不是中共党员?大部分的中国工人和普通人是否真的支持中共?他们觉得他们是生活在一个社会主义社会吗?” 因为这些第一组问题对应中国国民的生活体验,我们整理了我们的中国成员及其他在中国大陆的朋友的回应。(这系列往后的文章将由我们整个编辑组集体撰写,当中亦包括非华人成员。)以下是各人的中文回应的英文翻译,其中部分回应依问题分割。然后会附上这些问题和回应的中文原版。这里采用了随机化名,以保护回应者的身份。



























现在共产党的政治目标和共产主义没有什么关系,这个是很显然的一个事情. 它的目标是,大海里面的一艘船没有目标,只有维持现状就可以,只要统治阶级可以维护自己的利益就可以了。