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Cai Xia

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Cài Xiá 蔡霞

Cai Xia is Professor Emerita of the Central Party School who argued for the protection of individual rights under the law and for internal reform of the Chinese Communist Party. One of Xi Jinping's sharpest critics, Cai was formally expelled from the Party in August 2020, following the leak of a speech she gave online in which she called the CCP "a political zombie."

Cai was born into a military family and has served in the People's Liberation Army. In 1988 she earned her Ph.D. in law from the Central Party School, which is run by the Central Committee explicitly for the purpose of training Party officials. Her 2002 book "Globalization and Chinese Communist Party Values" (全球化与中国共产党人价值观) won the Prize for National Party Building Reading Material in the year of its publication. Cai taught at the Central Party School for over forty years, retiring in 2012.

Cai has drawn on her deep understanding of Chinese law and the CCP to criticize law-bending by the authorities and the silencing of debate within the Party. When Chinese-American businessman Charles Xue was detained on suspicion of soliciting a prostitute in August 2013, Cai wrote on Weibo that "the relationship between the prostitute and man who solicited her was a private transaction that is not within the scope of the law," and that the authorities had therefore infringed on the rights of both Xue and the Ms. Zhang whom he had allegedly called.

In February 2016, when Ren Zhiqiang was excoriated by the Party and removed from social media in punishment for criticizing state media, Cai spoke out on his behalf in an online opinion piece. She said state media's attack on Ren violated the constitution of the Chinese Communist Party, and lamented the lack of channels for communication inside the Party. Cai's article quickly disappeared from Chinese social media.

Censorship has not stopped Cai from voicing her opinion online. She rebuked the Beijing court in December 2016 after it decided not to bring charges against the officers involved in the case of Lei Yang, an educated, middle class man whose death shocked the country.

In a private address in May 2020, Cai excoriated Xi Jinping in all but name, denouncing his heavy-handed rule of the Party and country and blaming him for turning the CCP into a "political zombie." A recording of the address leaked online, a leading factor in Cai's expulsion from the CCP on August 17, 2020. Cai later tweeted that she was also being punished for writing about Hong Kong's National Security Law and signing an open letter calling for political reform in the wake of Dr. Li Wenliang's death. The CCP took the unusual step of removing her retirement benefits as part of her expulsion.

Read a selection of Cai's writing archived at CDT Chinese.

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