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A Second Red Generation’s Reflection on the CCP and its Legitimacy

{Editor’s Notes: The Second Red Generation (红二代, also translated as “Princelings”) refers to those whose parents served mid or high-ranking positions in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) or the government from 1949, when the CCP attained power in China, to the 1970s. “Princeling” is a similar term, but usually refers to those whose parents are high-ranking officials.

In the eyes of the first generation of CCP leaders, the second red generation is the most loyal and trustworthy group. Thus they would like to pass down their power to this group. Installing Xi Jinping, a princeling, as the top CCP leader represents such a power transition.

Recently, Cai Xia (蔡霞), from the second red generation, a former CCP Central Party School Professor, came to the U.S. On September 10, in an Interview with the Voice of America, {1} she denounced the CCP. She revealed that quite a number of the second red generation, far exceeding the outsiders’ imagination, have reflected deeply on the CCP and questioned the legitimacy of its rule. This shows that even the members of the second red generations, who are supposed to be the die-hard CCP supporters and beneficiaries, have lost their confidence in the CCP.

For example, one princeling who challenged the CCP is Ren Zhiqiang, a Chinese former real estate tycoon. On September 22, the CCP used corruption charges to sentence him to 18 years. However, his punishment is widely believed to be the result of his bold criticism of the party system and Xi Jinping. He once indirectly referred to Xi as “a Clown Who Stripped Naked and Insisted on Continuing to Be an Emperor.” {2}

The following is an excerpt from her interview.}

At a dinner gathering of a group of the second red generation, we talked about our “reflections (on the CCP).”

Some people said that we should reflect on whether the country has been heading in the right direction since the Tiananmen (Massacre) in 1989.

Some said we should go back to 1978 to reflect on whether the open and reform policy has solved the problems from Mao’s era.

Some disagreed and said we should go back to 1966 when the Cultural Revolution started.

Some countered that we should go back to the CCP’s 8th National Congress in 1956 when there was some promotion of democracy inside the party and no personal idolization was allowed.

Some said we should go back to 1949 when the CCP took control of China and question whether the party system was legitimate.

Finally, one person said that the reflection must start back in 1920, at the birth of the CCP, and follow its connection with what the country has gone through.

A large number of the second red generation believe that the fact that we have a privileged status indicates that the goals that our parents fought for have not truly been achieved. Our parents pursued “sovereignty rests with the people, and sovereignty returns to the people” wholeheartedly when they followed the Communist Party in violent revolutions, wars, bloodshed and sacrifice.

The second red generation has the responsibility to do as much as possible to promote the growth of China, and to promote and accomplish the tasks that our parents have not been able to complete.

In the end, the reflections of the second red generation will eventually shake the CCP regime.

For its own purpose, this party has always opposed “different opinions within the party.” It emphasizes unity of thinking and never allows people to have different understandings. Especially since 2013, the party has proposed that people must maintain a high degree of consistency with the Party Central Committee at any time and under all circumstances. Some people have even said, “If one can’t be absolutely loyal (to the party and its top leader), that person is absolutely not loyal.” These kinds of statements suggest that the CCP does not allow people to think. If there are no ideological divisions, there will be no different voices that will form new forces to change the current situation.

The CCP has no legitimacy in China. I have worked inside the system for decades. Whenever it came to giving the Chinese people the right to exercise their democratic rights to vote, some people would say that the CCP has earned its ruling legitimacy from its 28 years of revolution and bloody sacrifices and they have the support of the Chinese people. These (CCP) people, however, had nothing to do with that “revolution.” It was their parents’ generation or grandfather’s generation who fought the war.

The general public might have recognized the CCP’s legitimacy in 1949 or in the early 1950s (after it won the civil war), but 70 years have passed. How can the CCP officials still live off the past? The CCP’s legitimacy has long gone.

The CCP is afraid of democratic elections. It has always claimed that it represents the people and it supports the people. It has never dared to separate the people as an independent entity because (if the party did so,) it would never gain power through election. It is a one-party dictatorship. So, whenever Western countries have a general election year, (the CCP) says, that the election is money driven politics; look how much money they spend on elections; we (don’t need it because we) are supported by the people. Yet (the party) has never dared to go through a real democratic election.

The CCP has always claimed that it is engaged in reform and opening up, and it is engaged in economic development. Therefore, people have a good life and support them. As a matter of fact, that is not the case. The reform and opening up in the late 1970s rescued the party from the legitimacy crisis it was facing (the nation’s economy was at the brink of collapse at that time). In the 1980s, they gave people some economic freedom. In the 1990s, the market economy was moving forward. It was indeed a political achievement. People had a better life and social tensions began to loosen up.

But what about now? They steal money, occupy people’s land, and demolish people’s houses. In other words, the party has lost its legitimacy. It does not have achievements and does not allow people to live a good life. Now they are calling on the people to prepare for a life of hardship and in the meantime they plunder the wealth that society created and use that wealth for their own purposes. At this time, if the CCP separates the party from the people and it is particularly afraid of the outside world, it is because it has lost all of its legitimacy.

Does the bottom of society support the Communist Party? The bottom class has no voice. They can’t express their opinions. What (method) can they use to express their dissatisfaction with the current totalitarian tyranny? They can only endure, endure, to the point where they can’t bear it anymore.

I heard that a dean of a college at Harvard University wrote that 93 percent of the Chinese people are very satisfied with China’s current system, the leadership, and the rule of the Chinese Communist Party. [VOA’s note: From “Understanding the CCP’s Resilience: Surveying Chinese Public Opinion Through Time,” Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Cambridge, July 2020]

I just want to ask, “Where did this 93 percent conclusion come from?” The truth cannot be disseminated on the media in China, but this information is unimpeded in China. I think it is quite deceptive. People from the outside world do not fully understand the situation in China, and such things may deceive them.

Some people in China always feel that, as long as you don’t hurt me, I won’t hurt you. They won’t speak out unless their rights are infringed upon or they are pushed to the point where they can’t survive.

How can China achieve constitutional democracy? Over the years, China’s economy has grown. We see high-rise buildings, highways, and high-tech applications. High-tech can be used to benefit society and the people, but now the totalitarian rulers use high-tech as a surveillance tool to monitor the people completely.

If China wants to move towards modern democracy, we need the following:

  • First, take down Xi (Jinping) to break the current deadlock.
  • Second, remove the CCP as the ruling party.
  • Third, revolutionize the current (totalitarian) system.
  • Fourth, create a peaceful transition.

The elites and the public should communicate, cooperate, compromise, and negotiate, and everyone should work together to push China forward. We must reveal the hidden truth of the CCP.


{1} Voice of America, “Cai Xia: China’s Political Solution – Taking Down Xi Jinping, Remove the CCP, Revolution, and Peaceful Transition,” September 12, 2020.
{2} Chinascope, “Leadership: Ren Zhiqiang’s Article: “A Clown Who Stripped Naked and Insisted on Continuing to Be an Emperor,” March 22, 2020.