The Chinese Communist Party inspires little support among young Chinese professionals: the best they can say is that it's a necessary nuisance.
Saturday lunch at Zhong 8, a restaurant famed for its southwestern Chinese cuisine, is a relaxed, noisy affair as young couples and tables full of families tuck into their food with familiar Chinese gusto.
Over a meal of sour rice noodle soup, braised mushrooms, crispy pork belly, and fried silkworm larvae (a regional specialty), four 20-something professionals talk freely about their attitudes toward the Communist Party – and why it doesn't mean much to them.
Guo Wei, who runs the server at a small software company, joined the party when he was at university "because that's what the best students do" as an additional mark of their status.
Today, though, he says, "I don't have strong feelings about the party, and the last time I went to a party meeting was two years ago, when I was still a student." It was a lecture on national affairs and party policy, he remembers, followed by a discussion. "The best thing about the meetings was we got to know our teachers and other students better," he says.