Interesting discussion. I'm from China so let me share a few things with you.
1. Most younger generation in China does not like the system, but there's very little they could do about it.
2. The older generation in China lacks education. Most middle aged man and women have no more than a middle school degree. This is because Mao's anti-education policy back in the 60's and 70's.
3. Chinese culture, like many eastern culture are very collective, historically. This is something hard to understand for westerners who are born and raised in individualist societies for thousands of years. Chinese culture is very BIG on obeying your parents and satisfy their wishes before anything else. Doing otherwise will bring "shame" to yourself. This is predominately why there hasn't been successful revolutions to overthrow the dictatorship.
4. It's much "better" than what it was 15-20 years ago, when I was there. No you won't be thrown into jail or told to shut up if you denounce the government -- most sane young people will denounce with you, in no-so-pubic places. However, denouncing the government in writing or in an organized manner will result in your prosecution or maybe execution.
5. There will never be federal laws until the current dictatorship is overthrown, because having a federal law means communist party members must obey them. At this time high ranking party members are NOT subject to any laws, federal or local.
6. Yet for some reason I met quit a bit of liberal people in the USA who are pro-Maoism and wants to change the system in America to some idealistic "state-owned" enterprise. Well, I tell them that they "free" to pack their bags and go to China. Explain to them that you hate the "bureaucracies" of America and are here to seek refugee.