Ms. Cai said that the incident that broke her waning faith in the party was not a great crisis, but the government’s handling of the death of Lei Yang, a Chinese environmentalist who died in police custody in 2016. The police accused him of hiring prostitutes, a claim that Ms. Cai and other supporters said was slander aimed at diluting public anger over his death.
“That incident left me totally disillusioned,” she said, pausing to choke back tears. “Their methods were despicable to an extreme that surpassed anything we could imagine.”
Ms. Cai faces daunting uncertainties in her new home in the United States. The party school cut off her pension and other retirement benefits, and she said she would probably be detained if she returned to China. But she said she felt relieved that now she could fully speak her mind.
“In my own mind, I’ve long wanted to resign from the party,” she said. “Now that they’ve expelled me, I’m really happy, because at last I’ve regained my freedom.”