On the morning news broke that Washington was considering a travel ban on Chinese Communist Party members last week, Wang Yao’s ears pricked up.
The 34-year-old Chinese national, who is also a devout Christian, gazed out of her apartment window in Melbourne.
The news evoked her memories of being expelled from the Party and imprisoned for illegal possession of state secrets in 2015.
“It’s positive news,” Ms Wang said of the reported sanctions, adding it would make people think twice before joining the Party.
“At least it poses a risk to the internal stability of the Party.”
Ten years ago, Ms Wang joined the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). She was working at a public hospital in the south-western city of Guiyang and an officer at its party member activity office, which monitored Party members, among them doctors and hospital executives.
The CCP boasts some 92 million members, who not only walk the halls of power in Beijing, but also supervise China’s schools and run the country’s major companies.
Chinese Government officials and staff make up a relatively small number of the CCP base. The overwhelming majority are often ordinary citizens whose job prospects depend on Party membership.
Who are the members of the CCP?
The Chinese Communist Party has nearly 92 million members, according to statistics released by the Organisation Department of the CCP Central Committee this month.
They include industrial workers, professionals, academics, university students and business people, who have no input in Beijing’s policy making or upper echelons of Government.
So what’s it like to belong to the world’s second-largest political party, and what could be the fall out of a travel ban on millions of Chinese people and their families?
Joining the Chinese Communist Party
Every primary, high school and university student in China has to study a compulsory subject called “ideology and politics”, which teaches students about Marxism and socialism with Chinese characteristics.
A decade ago, Ms Wang’s postgraduate study on the impact of that subject on the CCP’s popularity with the younger generation gained her membership to the Party.
It was around the same time she became a Christian.
“You have to prove yourself by being selected as a young pioneer in primary school, then become a member of the Youth League in high school, before you become eligible for joining the party,” Ms Wang said.
“You were taught those memberships were privileges, which identified you as the most outstanding ones among your peers.”
Ms Wang believes her CCP membership was a significant advantage that secured her a job in a renowned regional hospital.
Her role was to organise political education, publishing propaganda stories and overseeing the CCP members’ activities.