Cai, who at that point had spent decades serving the party, was shocked. “No one had ever asked me this. I always felt everything I did was normal and natural, and I never thought about whether it was right or wrong,” she said. The friend followed up with another pointed question: “Do you know what you are like, what you are?” To Cai’s confusion, the friend said: “You are a preacher of the communist party,” – a proselytiser verging on religious fanaticism.
“I knew being called a preacher for the Chinese communist party was a derogatory term,” she said, noting the negative connotation of religion within the party. “These two questions lodged in my mind,” she said. “I still think about them.”