Daily Archives: 2010-10-15

荷兰大学法轮功问题研究论文 3/3 Karin Aalderink- "Totally Expunge Evil, Pursue it to the End" Explaining the Crackdown on the Falun Gong

1/3 http://lihlii.posterous.com/karin-aalderink-totally-expunge-evil-pursue-i
2/3 http://lihlii.posterous.com/22-karin-aalderink-totally-expunge-evil-pursu

Second, after a ‘cursory reading’ of the Zhuan Falun , he also holds the opinion that the teachings of Li are inspired by Buddhist teachings. However, he has also reasons to believe that Li’s knowledge of these teachings stems from reading texts on Buddhist doctrine, rather than stemming from a living Buddhist tradition.

5.3 Li Hongzhi

Who is this charismatic person behind the Falun Gong? The available sources on the life of Li Hongzhi are two different biographies provided by Li Hongzhi himself on the one hand and the Chinese authorities on the other hand. The Chinese authorities assert that Li Hongzhi created his own biography to build an image of an esteemed ‘Divine Buddha’ and a ‘spiritual being with infinite Dharma power’.17 To refute this biography the Chinese official media provided the “true” biography of Li Hongzhi with a less divine character.

One of the main differences between the two biographies is the date of birth of Li Hongzhi. According to the official version, the birthday of Li Hongzhi should not be 13 May 1951, as given in his ‘own created’ biography, but 7 July 1952. The Chinese authorities explain the reason why Li Hongzhi changed his birthday as follows: May 13 1951 corresponds to the eighth day of the fourth month of the lunar calendar. This day happens to be the date of birth of the Buddhist god Sakyamuni. By making his date of birth correspond to the date of birth of the Buddhist Patriarch, he intended to see himself as the reincarnation of Sakyamuni. 18

In an interview with Li Hongzhi by Time Magazine, Li explains that he changed his birth date because the government misprinted it during the Cultural Revolution. He comments: ‘What’s the big deal about having the same birthday as Sakyamuni? Many criminals were also born on that date. I have never said that I am Sakyamuni. I am just a very ordinary man.’19

Other differences between the two biographies concern the childhood of Li Hongzhi. According to his own biography, he was born in the city of Gongzhuling in the northern province Jilin. The biography continues that during his childhood, Li was taught by different masters in Buddhist and Taoist methods of exercising and doctrines. The Brief Introduction to Mister Li Hongzhi edited by the Falun Gong (Science) Research Association, reveals further that by the age of eight Li Hongzhi already possessed extraordinary skills, understood the universal truth, had insight in human life and knew past and future of the human race.20

The ‘official’ biography on the other hand claims that Li Hong merely attended different secondary schools in Changchun, a city near Gongzhuling. When Li turned eighteen, he worked successively as a military and police trumpeter, a police attendant and an office clerk. In 1991 he supposedly stopped working and joined qigong activities.21

The two biographies converge in the year 1992 when Li Hongzhi introduced his teachings. Since that year Li Hongzhi wrote books, held lectures and had audiovisual materials produced to advocate and explain his teachings and exercises to a greater public.22 As already said in the first paragraph of this chapter, in the years following 1992, Li Hongzhi registered his association with the China Society for Research on Qigong Science.23 In that period he also composed and published the Zhuan Falun .

Because the government did not appraise the activities of Li Hongzhi, he had to leave China in 1998 at the apparent urging of authorities.24 The effect Li Hongzhi and his teachings had and still have on his followers cannot be disparaged. Whether spontaneous or organized, Falun Dafa practitioners held on 25 April 1999 one of biggest demonstrations since 1949, right in front of the political heart of Beijing. They demanded, among others, official recognition of the Falun Dafa Research Association. This demonstration triggered the decision of the government to ban and root out the Falun Gong completely.

Chapter Six: The Government Campaign Against the Falun Gong

6.1 Prelude

On 25 April 1999, more than ten thousand Falun Dafa adherents from all over China gathered around Zhongnanhai, the capital’s political heart, setting the stage for the most serious political case since the pro-democracy demonstrations of 1989. The reason for this gathering was to request the government the official recognition of the Falun Dafa Research Association and the lifting of the ban on Li Hongzhi’s latest publications.1 The Falun Dafa Research Association also demanded the release of Falun Dafa practitioners detained during previous demonstrations.2 This last demand turns our attention to the string of events prior to the ‘4.25 case’.

The detained persons were among the many Falun Gong members who besieged the Education Department of Tianjin Normal University in reaction to an article written by an academic of the Normal University’s Science Department. In this article, I Do Not Approve of Young People Practicing Qigong, the author made critical remarks on the Falun Gong.3 Protests against, in their eyes, unfair coverage on the Falun Gong already triggered many sieges of different
media organizations over the past few years.4

After 25 April 1999, the demands of the “Beijing demonstrators” were submitted during one of the three meetings that day between different representatives of the Falun Dafa Research Association and the employees of the Petition Offices of the General Office of the CPC Central Committee and the General Office of the State Council.5 One of the main points of this conversation, according to the People’s Daily, was that the government never had forbidden the practice of normal exercises and that people have the freedom to believe in and practice any kind of qigong method, unless when people (…) use the banner of exercises (…) to spread superstition, create chaos and organize large scale gatherings which disturb social order and influence social stability6.

Almost two months after the large-scale demonstration of Falun Gong members, the People’s Daily bombarded its audience with an elaborate series of articles mainly dealing with superstition and science, atheism and materialism. All the articles in this period dealt with these subjects in general. Only after the official notice of the government to ban the Falun Dafa Research Association, the propaganda machine connected these subjects to the practices and teachings of Li Hongzhi and his followers.

6.2 The campaign

Three months after the demonstration in Beijing, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China issued a circular that forbade members of the Communist Party to practice the Falun Dafa. Three days later, on July 22, the Ministry of Civil Affairs issued the decision to outlaw the Falun Dafa Research Association. This document was accompanied with a notice of the Ministry of Public Security that elaborated the former decision with concrete prohibitions concerning any activity related to the Falun Dafa Research Association. The contents of these official documents will be discussed in the next chapter.

On July 30, the People’s Daily published the text of a national arrest warrant against Li Hongzhi, issued the day before by the Ministry of Public Security. In this article, personal data of Li Hongzhi were given as well as the crimes he was held responsible for. Since Li Hongzhi already lived in America by that time, the arrest warrant was also submitted to Interpol.7

One of the first concrete steps of the government to stamp out the influence of the Falun Gong was the notice issued by the national Press and Publications Administration, the Ministry of Public Security and the national office in charge of ‘wiping out pornography’. This notice ordered that all publications, audiovisual materials and posters related to the Falun Gong should be collected and destroyed.8

Until October, the campaign against the Falun Gong seemed to be focused primarily on Li Hongzhi and other (high-ranking) leaders within the hierarchy of the Falun Dafa Research Association. The thousands of adherents detained by the police during that period were being handled with relative leniency. In most cases they were only held for brief periods in guesthouses, schools and sports halls.9

In the last weeks of October, thousands of Falun Gong members went to the capital on word that the government was preparing new measures to intensify the crackdown.10 The measures finally taken were the formal classification of the Falun Gong as a cult and new legal devices adopted by the National People’s Congress to fight cults.

These measures marked a turning point in the crackdown. The combination of these decisions and legal measures made it possible for the government to punish Falun Gong members more severely. This fact apparently did not stop members from descending on Beijing and risking arrest while expressing their dissatisfaction. Some members even organized a clandestine news conference. During this conference, Falun Dafa followers told seven foreign reporters that they would continue their defiance.11

From October on, according to western sources, the authorities changed their former relatively lenient approach and started to arrest large numbers of Falun Dafa practitioners.12 In an Amnesty International report (hereafter A.I report) it is stated that on 5 November 1999, the Supreme People’s Court issued a notice giving instructions to local courts on how to handle the cases of people charged with the crimes described in the new legal measures.13 The A.I. report also stated that since November, probably more than forty members have been tried in various places in China.14 The first trials were held on 12 November, ending with four followers sentenced to between two and twelve years’ prison.15 These four people are not to be mistaken for the four key-members Li Chang, Wang Zhiwen, Ji Liewu and Yao Jie who were detained even before the ban on the Falun Gong started and charged on 19 October. They were all party members holding responsible positions. Their ‘high-profile’ trial took place on 26 December, resulting in a conviction of prison sentences from seven to eighteen years.16

6.3 The continuation: one year after the ‘4.25 demonstration’

In the following months the crackdown on the Falun Gong did not end, but got likely more impetus from more demonstrations in the form of mass sit-ins of Falun Gong members like the ones on Tiananmen during Chinese New Year and on 25 April 2000 (to mark the anniversary of the mass sit-in that started the crackdown campaign in 1999).17 In an article about the latter event, a western diplomat in Beijing said: ‘A measure of the domestic effectiveness of the campaign is whether there is an end in sight to the campaign. That is not the case at the moment. The campaign has stopped the further growth of the Falun Gong, but it has led to the formation of a hard core of believers who are proving hard to deal with.’18

Chapter Seven: The Official Documents Legalizing the Eradication

7.1 Introduction

As it has become clear in the previous chapter, the eradication campaign in the beginning was mainly a ‘paper fight.’ Li Hongzhi and the Falun Gong were blackened and vilified in numerous newspaper articles and books. The ramifications for the accusations that are uttered in these writings are provided by the official document issued by governmental bodies. These accusations will be described more elaborately in Chapter Eight. This chapter will deal with the more important function of these official documents: providing the (ideological) background of and legitimizing explanations for the eradication campaign. This information will help us to place the whole issue in the context of religious policy in China.

7.2 The CPC Central Committee Circular (19 July 1999)

The first restrictive decision on the Falun Gong was the Circular of the Central Committee on the Prohibition for Members of the Communist Party to Practice the “Falun Dafa” (hereafter CPC Central Committee Circular). This circular was issued on 19 July 1999. This circular first explains why this prohibition is necessary: 
In the last few years the ‘Falun Gong’ organization has developed and stretched out in certain areas. The ‘Falun Dafa’ compiled by Li Hongzhi, proclaims a set of false reasoning and heretical ideas and corrodes people’s thoughts. The ‘Falun Gong’ organization instigates ‘Falun Gong’ practitioners to hold illegal gatherings at Party and government organs and news units, which severely disturb the social and public order and destroy the stable situation of the reform developments. Especially some Party members who also participated in those actions damaged the image of the Party and created a horrible social influence. To maintain the advancement and the purity of the Party and to increase the cohesion and fighting powers of the Party organization is the following circular (…).

After this introduction, four issues concerning the prohibition of Party members to practice the Falun Dafa are introduced and explained. The first issue is about the complete understanding of the political nature of the Falun Gong organization and the explicit demand that members of the Communist Party are not allowed to practice the Falun Dafa. The second and third issues deal with how to change the ideas of those Party members who practice the Falun Dafa. A one-time ‘study and teaching’ activity within the party has to increase the knowledge of the members about materialism and atheism, and give them a correct world outlook, life outlook and correct values. The main goal of the education activity is that the members make a definite break with the Falun Gong organization and return to the correct standpoint of the Party. A distinction is made between the Party members according to their roles within the Falun Gong organization and their willingness to give up their old convictions. The ones who are ordinary members and able to break with the Falun Gong organization can expect light or no disciplinary actions, whereas the wire pullers, plotters and organizers who have political intentions and deliberately create chaos will resolutely be cleaned out of the Party .

The fourth and last issue concerns the strengthening of the authority of the Party organization of all levels and their political responsibility. This responsibility consists, among others, of the awareness of the situation and the problems that might occur after the exposure and criticism of Li Hongzhi and his Falun Dafa. Moreover, the Party organizations have to follow relevant developments closely and discover, report, control and solve important situations in an early state so as to maintain social and political stability.1

7.3 The MCA Decision and MPC Circular (22 July 1999)

On 22 July 1999, the document Decision of the Ministry of Civil Affairs of the PRC on the Outlawing of the Falun Dafa Research Association was issued (hereafter MCA Decision). According to this document, investigations made clear that the Falun Dafa Research Association never was registered as an official body, performed illegal activities, advocated superstition and heretical ideas, deceived the masses, provoked disturbances and undermined social stability. According to these findings and the regulations from Administrative Regulations for Registering Mass Organizations , it was maintained that the Falun Dafa Research Association and thus its ‘subordinate Falun Gong organization’ were illegal organizations and thus should be outlawed.2

The MCA Decision was issued on the same day as the Decision of the Ministry of Public Security of the PRC (hereafter MPC Decision) containing concrete prohibitions on Falun Gong-related activities, filling out the ban on the Falun Gong. In short it became prohibited to: 

  1. Display propaganda material to promote the Falun Gong;
  2. Spread propaganda material to promote the Falun Gong;
  3. Gather and perform qigong group-exercises to promote the Falun Gong;
  4. Protect and promote meetings, marches and demonstrations of the Falun Gong by means of sit-ins and petitions;
  5. Fabricate or twist stories, deliberately spread lies or use other means to disturb social order, etc.3

During the same month, the Ministry of Personnel and the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League also issued circulars, stipulating that government civil servants and League members respectively were prohibited from practicing the Falun Dafa.4

7.4 NPC Decisions and the SPC/SPP Interpretation (30 October 1999)

In October 1999, three months after the decision to outlaw the Falun Gong, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress passed the Decisions on Banning Cult Organizations, Preventing and Punishing Cult Activities (hereafter NPC Decisions).5 The decisions were said to be made according to the Chinese constitution and relevant laws and their aim was to safeguard social stability, protect people’s interests and guarantee the smooth progress of reform and opening up and socialist modernization. The A.I. report quoted an official from the National People’s Congress stating that the decisions provided a legal system to ensure the efforts of banning cult organizations, preventing and punishing cult activities.6 These decisions can be sum
marized as follows: 

  • Firmly ban cult organizations according to the law and severely punish any kind of criminal activities of cults;
  • Persist in the combination of education with punishment, unify and instruct the majority of the deceived people and severely punish the few criminals according to the law;
  • To develop more intensively the education in the constitution and the laws and to spread the scientific knowledge among the citizens;
  • To mobilize and organize the strength of the whole society in preventing and punishing cult activities and to harness [the cult activities] totally.

On the same day as the NPC Decisions, the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procurator issued a ‘judicial interpretation’ entitled Explanation on Questions on the Concrete Application of Laws in Handling Criminal Cases of Organizing and Using Cult Organizations (hereafter SPC/SPP Interpretation).7 This interpretation defines specific activities (carried out in the context of ‘organizing and using cult organizations’) that are considered as crimes. For each series of crimes, the interpretation refers to relevant articles of the Criminal Law under which the crimes should be punished.

Article 300 of the Criminal Law is especially relevant. Prior to the SPC/SPP Interpretation, this article set out punishments for people who ‘form and use superstitious sects and secret societies ( huidaomen ), cult organizations ( xiejiao zuzhi ) or superstition ( mixin ) for certain purposes.8 In the beginning of the campaign, Article 300 was already used to legalize the charges against Li Hongzhi.9 It should be noted, however, that the concept ‘cult organization’ mentioned in Article 300 was ascribed a specific meaning after the classification of the Falun Gong as a cult in October. The SPC/SPP Interpretation makes clear through a legal definition of the concept what this new specific meaning of a ‘cult organization’ is: 
A cult organization refers to an illegal organization established in the name of religion, qigong or other names that deifies its ringleaders, uses the fabrication and spread of heretical ideas and other means to bewitch and deceive other people, recruits and controls members and harms society. 10

Other articles mentioned in the SPC/SPP Interpretation are Articles 232 and 234 for the crimes of intentionally killing or inflicting injury on people; Article 236 for the crime of raping women or seducing young women; Article 266 for the crime of swindling and Articles 103, 105 and 113 for crimes that relate to activities with the aim to split up the country, destroy the country’s unity, or subvert the socialist system.

The importance of the SPC/SPP Interpretation becomes clear when it is considered that Article 300, used in the initial stage of the campaign, only provides prison sentences for even the most serious offences, while some of the articles of the Criminal Law, now used to fight ‘cult activities,’ provide punishments ranging from life imprisonment to the death penalty.

Finally, on 5 November 1999, the Supreme People’s Court issued a circular to all local judicial organs on how to handle the cases of people charged with crimes for organizing and using cult organizations, particularly Falun Gong.11 The circular pointed out the necessity of punishing such cult organizations according to the NPC Decisions and the SPC/SPP Interpretation and emphasized the fact that handling of the above-mentioned criminal cases was an important political task.

7.5 The importance of legalizing the campaign according to the law

After issuing the MCA Decision of 22 July 1999, Li Baoku, the vice-minister of the Ministry of Civil Affairs, emphasized in the People’s Daily that the ban on the Falun Gong was a legislative decision. He stated that according to the Administrative Regulations for Registering Mass Organizations , organizations have to register, abide the constitution, laws, regulations and national policies. Moreover, they may not harm the state’s and the people’s interests and the legal rights of other groups.12

The emphasis on the legitimacy of the campaign is also given after the passing of the NPC Decisions and the SPC/SPP Interpretation. These two documents are said to give full expression to the ‘spirit of governing the country according the law’.13

As already mentioned in chapter four, ‘governing the country according to the law’ together with ‘building a socialist country ruled by law’ are concepts that took shape under the rule of Deng Xiaoping. He made ‘rule by law’ one of the tasks of reforming the political system, rather than ‘rule by man’ that was more common during the Mao Zedong era.14

The contents of ‘governing the country according to the law’ and ‘building a socialist country ruled by law’ can be summarized as: protecting the sanctity of the constitution and the laws; gradually establishing and improving China’s socialist legal system; improving the administrative law enforcement system and the judicial system and strengthen the people’s knowledge of the legal system.

The policy was an important means for the economical and social development of China. Even more, it was an important guarantee of China’s lasting political stability. This was emphasized again by Deng’s successor, Jiang Zemin.15

Chapter Eight: The Accusations Uttered Against the Falun Gong

8.1 Introduction

The basis of the accusations expounded in the media during the course of the campaign was already laid down in the first two governmental documents that initiated the campaign. First, in the MCA Decision of 22 July 1999, the Falun Dafa Research Association was classified as an illegal organization that performed the following illegal activities:

  • Provoking disturbances and undermining social stability;
  • Advocating superstition and heretical ideas;
  • Deceiving the masses.

These activities are the main accusations uttered against the Falun Gong and repeated endlessly by the media channels (of
the government).

Second, in the CPC Central Committee Circular of 19 July 1999, Party members were warned against the political nature of the Falun Dafa Research Association. This warning was actually the forerunner of the accusation that the Falun Gong had political objectives.

After 28 October 1999, the Falun Gong was classified as a cult. This classification did not really provide new charges. It merely replaced the classification of the Falun Gong as an illegal organization. However, applying the new classification had probably the aim to worsen the image of the Falun Gong.

In the following paragraphs, the content and ideological background of the accusations is analyzed to see why the Falun Gong is considered to be so dangerous and what the role of the CCP is to protect the people from this peril. The first paragraph, however, shall first take a closer look at the state perceptions of the teachings of the Falun Dafa with which Li Hongzhi is alleged to be deceiving his followers.

8.2 State perceptions of the teachings of the Falun Dafa

In a Chinese textbook in which Marxist ideology is used to oppose the (teachings of the) Falun Gong, the authors have listed what they see as the basic contents of the Falun Dafa:

  • [The Falun Dafa] asserts that the universe is divided into realms; that every being has a spirit and that the people on earth are situated in the lowest realm of the universe;
  • [The Falun Dafa] asserts that the earth and human civilizations on earth occur in cyclic stages; that the Primordial Spirit [In traditional Chinese thought it is believed that many spirits exist in the body, governing certain functions and processes] doesn’t extinguish but transmigrates;
  • [The Falun Dafa] asserts that present day people on earth live in the final years of a stage in the cycle and face the catastrophe of extermination;
  • Li Hongzhi permeates every layer of the universe and does not transmigrate. He is the only deity who can save the human race;
  • [The Falun Dafa] sees science to be wrong, governments to be unnecessary, the law to be harmful and other religions to be low-level phenomena. Because of this, only normal people on this planet who think of avoiding the catastrophe, return to their roots and the truth, and rise to higher levels, can make a clean break with what they learned in the past, convert to and practice Falun Dafa.1

8.3 The accusations against the Falun Dafa Research Association as an illegal organization

8.3.1 Provoking Disturbances and Undermining Social Stability

The authorities consider the Falun Dafa Research Association as a large-scale and tightly set up organization (also referred to as the ‘Falun Gong organization’) that never went through the procedures according to the Administrative Regulations for Registering Mass Organizations to be registered as a legal organization. As a result of this, the Association was classified as an illegal organization. On this classification, the legal decision was based to outlaw the Falun Gong (see p. 42).

The Falun Dafa Research Association and Li Hongzhi, as the overall leader, were accused of ‘inciting and deceiving Falun Gong practitioners to let them gather illegally; seriously disturbing the social and public order and disrupting the stable situation of the reform developments.’2

‘Seriously disturbing the social and public order and disrupting the stable situation of the reform developments’ or variations on this theme mainly refer to the demonstrations and sit-ins Falun Gong members held near governmental and media organizations during the last few years, with the ‘4.25 demonstration’ as the climax of their protest activities. Sometimes this accusation is also mentioned as a result of the other illegal activities of the Falun Gong.

The government found good reasons to outlaw the illegal bodies. By carrying out the campaign against the Falun Gong it could ‘protect the socio-political stability and unity of China’, ‘concentrate on carrying forward the reform and opening up and the establishment of a socialist modernization’ and ‘guard the interests of the absolute majority of China’.3

8.3.2 Advocating Superstition and Heretical Ideas

During the course of the campaign, numerous articles devoted a few sentences on the Falun Gong’s superstitious and heretical ideas. One article written by professor Gao Qinghai, specialized in the philosophy of Marxism, delves into the subject a little more deeply and summarizes the most common uttered accusations related to superstition and heretical ideas.4

Gao Qinghai considers the Falun Dafa a kind of modern mysticism and mysticism, he says, creates superstition. He continues: Mysticism and superstition both fundamentally oppose science. The function of science is liberating people and liberating people’s thought, but superstition turns people into slaves of ghosts and spirits. Science affirms the real world and pursues the real happiness of people, but superstition inherently rejects real life and negates real happiness. Science must elaborate the human rational power whereas superstition exactly wants to lead humans to complete irrational and ignorant circumstances .

Other accusations are that the Falun Dafa does not allow outsiders to have any doubts or criticism to the teachings. Doubts and criticism result in protests and trouble making by Falun Gong members. (With this, Gao refers to earlier protests of Falun Gong adherents against, in their eyes, unfair coverage of the group and the teachings.) Moreover, because of the Falun Dafa, adherents will renounce their real lives and the building of a modern civilization and turn to a supernatural world arranged by Li Hongzhi.

Further accusations are aimed more directly at Li Hongzhi himself. In the words of Gao Qinghai: Li Hongzhi (…) made himself a deity. The trick he uses is the so-called Great Law of the Universe (yuzhou dafa) that controls everything. He made himself the enforcer and protector of this Great Law and thus deified himself. (…) Mysticism and superstition hide wide political ambitions. (…) You only can obey Li Hongzhi and look upon him as a deity, [and be] completely dominated and controlled by him .

In an article about science and superstition the history of the Party is said to be a history of ‘upholding science and eradicating superstition’. By upholding the Marxist scientific world outlook and destroying superstition since the establishment of New China, the CCP had been able to ‘free the people from old ideas and rejuvenate China’. The Marxist scientific world outlook, the author asserts, is a powerful ideological weapon to defeat all enemies and overcome all difficulties and obstacles. Ignorance and superstition, on the other hand, will blunt our thoughts, sap our fighting will, shake our fate and destroy our cohesion (…) .5

8.3.3 Deceiving the Masses

Apart from swindling money out of Falun Gong followers by organizing workshops, selling teaching materials on the Falun Dafa and qigong exercises, and asking donations, the Falun Gong and Li Hongzhi personally are accused of deceiving the masses in a more serious manner.

The Research Room of the Ministry of Public Security reported in an appendix of Li Hongzhi, the Man, the Story on 16 cases of people who, because of practicing the Falun Dafa, either committed suicide or killed family members, died because of refusing medical treatment or became mentally ill.6

Many newspaper articles and cartoons were also devoted to let the people know the heartrending stories about the victims of Li Hongzhi and the Falun Gong. In one article, for example, a former 60-year old key member tells in an interview ‘with pain in his heart’ about a married couple suffering from diabetes that died because they practiced the exercises and didn’t take medicines.7 In another article, a son recounted the story about his father who believed firmly in the words of Li Hongzhi and ignored the repeated requests of his son to go to the hospital to have his gallbladder stones treated. Finally the father died of complications. His son ended his story by saying: Now, the state outlawed the ‘Falun Gong’ organization and the Central Authorities prohibited Party members from practicing ‘Falun Dafa’. This is a good thing .8

8.4 The political nature of the Falun Gong

During the first weeks of the campaign, the Falun Gong was also explicitly marked as a dissident political power that tries to oppose the Party and the government. In an article devoted to show the political nature of the Falun Gong, the demonstrations, sit-ins and “other illegal activities” of the group are used to prove its ‘counter-constitutional, counter-governmental and counter-social political nature’.9

Other evidence proving the political nature of the Falun Gong is mainly based on Li Hongzhi himself and the Falun Dafa. In a ‘record of repentance,’ two former Falun Gong key members clarify the “true” character of Li Hongzhi by saying that ‘Li Hongzhi preaches that he is the only Savior of his believers and humanity and that his words are the law. Li also controls and poisons the ideas of the practitioners, leading the original good intentions to practice the Falun Gong for health purposes into genuine blind worship. This way Li Hongzhi used the devotion of his believers to provoke opposition against the Party and the government and to seek political advantage to reach his hidden political goals.’10

In another article, a direct link is given between the doctrines of Li Hongzhi and the Chinese Communist Party: 
Li Hongzhi preaches about Doomsday that is about to come and the facing extinction of the human race, but in reality he is creating a public opinion for his political intentions. He pointed out that no government is capable of solving this problem, the whole humanity is not able to solve this problem, and of course the Chinese Communist Party is not capable of solving this problem either .11

In the same article the author states that the Falun Dafa poses a serious challenge to the guiding ideology of the Party (i.e. Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory). Moreover the Falun Dafa is also accused of violating the constitution by not allowing adherents to believe in scientific theories, including Marxism.

The political role of the Falun Gong ascribed by the propaganda is not restricted to a national level. The Falun Gong is also accused of being used by ‘foreign hostile forces’ as a potential force to ‘disturb, permeate and overturn China.’12

By intensifying the political and ideological struggle with the Falun Gong, the political nature of the Falun Gong has to become clear.13 The aim of this political and ideological struggle is to stop the ‘illegal activities in time in order to prevent the [current] political power of China to destabilize’. The struggle’s importance is clear; it not only touches upon the ‘fundamental faith of the communists’, but even on the ‘future destiny of the Party and China.’14

8.5 The Falun Gong as a cult

The article The ‘Falun Gong’ is a Cult published by the People’s Daily on 28 October 1999, officially classified the Falun Gong as a cult ( xiejiao ).15 In the article, the author starts to remark that there are a handful of practitioners who still listen to the distant directives of Li Hongzhi who continued to lead the Falun Dafa practitioners, in and outside China, from his base in America. The author concludes that only a cult has such an evil power and great capabilities of mind-control. Further in his article he lists six basic characteristics of cults and asserts that all these characteristics can be found in the Falun Gong:

  1. The worshipping of its founder;
  2. The exercise of mind control over its members;
  3. The creation of heretical ideas by its founder (like Doomsday, the explosion of the world and healing of all diseases by practicing the Falun Dafa);
  4. The illegal collection of money;
  5. The secret formation of an organization and;
  6. The endangering of society.

The author summarizes these characteristics in one sentence to describe a cult: a cult organization refers to an illegal organization established in the name of religion, qigong or other names that deifies its ringleaders, uses the fabrication and spread of heretical ideas or other means to bewitch and deceive others, recruits and controls members and harm the society .

Whereas the newspaper article defines the tifa or formulation that has to be used to refer to the Falun Gong, the SPC/SPP Interpretation provides the legal approach of xiejiao (see p. 44).

During a symposium organized by the Chinese Academy of Soc
ial Sciences, ‘religious circles’ and social scientists discussed the above-mentioned article. They emphasized the ‘extreme danger of cults to society’, but also asserted that a distinction had to be made between cult and religion. Cults should be legally attacked, whereas religion and religious believers should be protected by the policy of freedom of religious belief.16

The Chinese propaganda tries to worsen the image of the Falun Gong by putting it on a par with other groups that are denominated by the (western) mass media as ‘cults’. In the article The ‘Falun Gong’ is an Outright Cult the American based People’s Temple and the Heaven’s Gate (known by the mass suicide of their members); the Japan based Aum Shinri Kyo (known by the Tokyo subway gassing) and the Europe based Solar Temple (known by the murders on its members by the founder Luc Jouret) are introduced to the reader.17 The author claims that after an overall research on these groups, it was discovered that they all bear the same characteristics as the Falun Gong.

I consider most of the accusations, uttered through the Chinese official media channels against the Falun Gong, as ‘propaganda’ accusations. This is because, as we have seen in this chapter, these accusations are mainly used to justify the campaign that has to eradicate the Falun Gong and its influence on the people.


The attitude of the Chinese government towards the Falun Gong has to be considered during two periods: before and after the demonstration of 25 April 1999. Before the demonstration, the government did suppress the Falun Gong by not granting it a legal status, banning Li’s writings and probably by harassing Li Hongzhi in such a way that he decided to leave China for the United States. However, the suppression was not overall and when regarding the growing popularity, especially among officials, it is more likely that many of the group’s activities were tolerated or perhaps even protected. The fact that the Falun Gong was nonetheless not officially recognized can only be explained from the ideas behind the policy of freedom of religious belief.

The policy of freedom of religious belief has always been a compromise of the Chinese government towards religion. Already before 1949, the Party understood that religion played such an important role in people’s lives that it could not be wiped out entirely without spending a disproportionate amount of energy and resources or losing the goodwill of the Chinese masses. The Party thus used the strategy “if you can not fight them, fight with them” and integrated people organized according to religious structures into the United Front structure.

After 1949, the United Front provided a political structure in which religious circles were granted a place in Chinese society. Within this structure, the policy of freedom of belief guided further how religion could continue to exist. This policy shaped three main conditions under which religion could exist in China: under strict governmental supervision; highly isolated from other social institutions important to the lives of Chinese citizens that had been taken over by the communist government to socialize the Chinese for a life in a CCP controlled nation; and the demand that religious circles support the national goals and policies of the government.

Control, isolation and the dedication to national purposes were achieved by several means. The policy of freedom of religious belief is foremost a conditional policy. Freedom and protection of religious belief is only granted when religious circles comply with the leadership of the CCP and support the socialist system. Concretely, the policy demands that religious circles have to move within the boundaries of numerous regulations and laws that aim to maintain religion’s isolation and the supervision over every kind of religious expression. Isolation and control of religious circles was further enhanced by acknowledging only five religious systems as “true” religions. By doing this, the government excluded many forms of religious expression from receiving governmental protection. These forms of religious expression were most probably linked to, or even a genuine part of, one these five recognized religions, but could not be placed within the streamlined and approved religious schools or factions. The government eliminated these forms of religious expression or reduced them under the common denominator of feudal superstitious activities. The individuals or groups that carried out these activities faced persecution and could be charged according to special articles of the Criminal Law.

After the Cultural Revolution, religious profession within an organizational structure gained more freedom. However, while freedom of religious belief increased, the limitations under which this freedom was possible, also increased, both in number and in severity. This discourse is accompanied by the overall policy to strengthen the legal system of China. The important role of the legal system in the implementation of the policy of freedom of religious belief is to prevent that religious circles form a danger to China’s social and political stability. So new legal regulations make an even sharper distinction between what is considered religion and feudal superstition. Moreover, the organization of recognized forms of religion is regulated more strictly through an obligatory registration process through which the government (via the RAB) is able to monitor closely every aspect of these organizations.

What is considered religion constitute only a very small and sharply distinguished part of possible religious expression in China. Li Hongzhi’s qigong, by definition, was not religion and the government as well as Li himself did not consider Li’s moral teachings as a religious creed.

Since Li claims that the Falun Gong is not a religious group, he probably never subjected his teachings and his association to the scrutinizing registering process of the RAB. As a result, the Falun Gong was not monitored closely by responsible government bodies. Moreover, it was tolerated, even after Li fled to the United States. The tolerance of the government ended when more than 10,000 Falun Dafa adherents suddenly gathered peacefully in front of Beijing’s political heart. This action made one point very clear: the authorities had failed to grasp the consequences of Falun Gong’s popularity and the defiant nature of the Falun Dafa adherents.

The previous tolerant attitude of the government was perhaps caused by the fact that qigong groups are new phenomena in Chinese history. Because of lack of precedents, the authorities simply did not know that a qigong group could evolve into a threatening movement. This is also why I think that any comparison with imperial new religious groups were only made by the Chinese authorities after 25 April 1999.

After the demonstration, the government reacted with a massive campaign with the aim to destroy the Falun Gong and its influence. The increasingly fierce nature of the campaign can be explained from the physical and ideological threat the Falun Gong forms.

The physical threat of the Falun Gong can be seen from its organizational nature. The Falun Gong is inherently an organization that is very difficult to control, a feature that is not appreciated by the authorities whose religious policy mainly focuses on the isolation of and supervision over religious activities. The many people that advocate and adhere to the Falun Dafa form an independent and flexible network that is maintained by means of modern means of communication. One consequence is that Falun Gong members are able to gather at any place guided by any person who is willing to take the initiative to organize a gathering. The second consequence is that the Falun Gong is difficult to suppress. The Chinese authorities shortly detained (it has not enough prison facilities to arrest all Falun Gong members) thousands of Falun Gong members. This strategy scared off many people, but not the hardcore members. The authorities kept on detaining and arresting people while everywhere in the country new groups of Falun Gong members popped up that showed their defiance against the campaign.

However, the organizational structure is not the only reason why the Falun Gong is difficult to suppress. Li Hongzhi and his Falun Dafa seem to fuel the resistance of Falun Gong members against any person or institution who stands in the way of the Falun Gong. That is also why the government takes every measure to vilify Li and expose the “wrong” and “deluding” reasoning behind his teachings.

The ideological threat lies in the fact that Marxism-Leninism provides the ‘correct’ world view according to which the CCP is legitimized to lead the Chinese masses. The Falun Dafa constitutes a competitive and threatening theory to that power-legitimizing ideology by providing an alternative world view. The accusation that the Falun Dafa directly opposes the CCP by provoking opposition against the Party is based on an understandable fear: when people accept the world view of the Falun Dafa, they might also accept that Li Hongzhi is the only one who can take care of the spiritual and physical well-being of the Chinese, instead of the government or even the CCP itself. In other words, the Falun Gong takes over from the Party important social areas as the moral and physical well-being of people. These social areas form an important pillar of the legitimacy of the Party to be the vanguard of the Chinese masses.

Another reason why the Falun Gong poses an ideological threat to the Party is the fact that officials, and even members of the CCP were found among the membership of the Falun Gong. These people are supposed to be atheists and the advocates of CCP ideologies. From this perspective, the CCP experiences a weakening of credibility from within.

The Party might also be jealous of the Falun Gong. Falun Gong members voluntarily spend a lot energy in practicing the Falun Dafa and their willingness to sacrifice themselves for their own and their fellow members’ beliefs is obvious.

However, the physical and ideological threats are amplified by perhaps the most important reason behind the fierce nature of the eradication campaign: the current faltering economic and social situation of China. Like all previous Chinese governments, the current government is highly focused on avoiding outbursts of social unrest by unsatisfied citizens. In this context, the Falun Gong is dangerous because of two reasons. First of all, the Falun Gong is popular among many people who live at the margin of society and many elderly people who do not reap the fruits of fifty years of Socialism. They might find in the Falun Gong a channel through which they can express their dissatisfaction with the actions of the government. Second, the group might function as a catalyst behind potential upheavals when non-Falun Dafa adherents “travel” with the group’s actions of defiance.

The accusations against Li Hongzhi and the Falun Gong are on the one hand used to lessen the popularity of the Falun Gong among the people by disclosing the “evilness” of Li’s teachings and the group’s activities. This is for example clearly seen in the fact that the government regards the Falun Gong as a cult and puts it on a par with religious groups outside China that have caused a lot of misery and even death among their followers. On the other hand, but closely linked to the first point, the accusations are used to legitimize the eradication campaign. Through the accusations, the CCP gives one big message to the Chinese people: That by wiping out the Falun Gong, the Party does nothing but safeguard the people’s economic and physical interests.

Whether born out of an existing historical religious tradition or born out of ideas based on book knowledge on religious aspects that are dominant in the same historical religious tradition, the Falun Gong evolved into a kind of religious group that at least resembles specific new religious groups existing in the imperial history of China.

When the imperial government determined the (potentially) dangerous nature of such a group, it reacted in a manner that is quite similar to the way the current Chinese government handles the Falun Gong. First, both governmental systems rely heavily on the use of labels to stigmatize the target group. Second, as a part of this stigmatization, the authorities do not pay any attention to those parts of the group’s guiding doctrine that are compatible with the official ideology. Both systems emphasize only parts that are conceived as threatening, in order to make clear the dangerous nature of the group. Third, its scriptures are collected and destroyed. Fourth, the leader(s) and members of the specific group are arrested and punished.

The similarity in the actions taken against new religious groups does not automatically mean that the current Chinese government is acting in a tradition set by its imperial predecessors. It only shows that the communist authorities are, like their imperial predecessors, quite sensitive when it comes to religious groups with leaders who set themselves up as a Savior who promises happiness and health to his followers.

However, I would like to put forward two other considerations that still indicate that the communist Chinese government is acting in a traditional way.

First, there exists another resemblance: both governmental systems seem to rely on past experiences with rebellious religious groups to guide their actions against other religious groups. History and the lessons people could learn from history have always played a very important role in Chinese culture. Whereas the imperial government could have looked back at previous dynasties and their struggles with new religious groups, the current Chinese government most probably compared the Falun Gong to rebellious groups adhering to syncretic teachings of the last dynasty. It does not matter whether these groups and the Falun Gong are actually coming from the same religious tradition; it is the perceived resemblance that counts.

Second, since religious institutions were actually given some place in Chinese society, the CCP had to find a compromise on the ideological level between Marxism-Leninism and the actual religious situation in China. The Chinese theory of the ‘five characteristics of religion’ provided an ideological explanation of the fact that religion was an intrinsic part of China and did not vanish immediately after the forming of a socialist society.

This brings me to the next consideration: pure Marxist ideology has never been suitable to the Chinese situation. Only after modifications of Lenin to Marxism, an ideology was developed that could serve the needs of Chinese communists in the early decades of the twentieth century
. However, Marxism-Leninism was in turn modified, mainly by Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. The point is that some traditional cultural forces within Chinese society are stronger than the cultural dictates made by an ‘alien’ Marxist ideology, thus causing the Sinification of this ideology. The propaganda against the Falun Gong has made ample use of Marxism-Leninism to explain the wrong world view of the Falun Dafa. However, the eradication campaign itself is an attack on a cultural superstructure that according to Marxism-Leninism only can vanish when the economic basis is communist of nature. The fact that the Party is able to legitimize the campaign theoretically, proves how far Marxism-Leninism (through Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory) has been altered to meet the actual religious situation in China.

Now we are able to answer the central question of this paper: why does the Chinese government want to get rid of the Falun Gong? Is it a traditional reaction? To answer this question, let us take one final step in China’s history.

From a general point of view, we can say that before 1949, the question whether a religious movement did or did not belong to an orthodox religion was more a concern of religious circles than of the ruling elites. As long as the religious movement did not have any political aspirations, the outcome of this question probably also did not have any significant political consequences. A group was labeled heterodox only when the imperial government perceived the group’s potential political threat. The search for potentially dangerous religious groups was most probably caused or stimulated by a faltering economic situation that could cause insurrections of desperate farmers and dissatisfied officials. The imperial government undoubtedly feared that new religious groups might function as a catalyst behind or as a channel for those insurrections.

I believe that the current Chinese government shares the same historical fear with its imperial predecessors: in times of economic and social unrest, unorthodox religious groups might cause or channel forms of defiance against the government. In this sense, the current Chinese government certainly acts in a traditional way. However, where new religious groups or unorthodox religious groups experienced relatively much freedom in times of prosperity in imperial China, after 1949 the independence of and tolerance towards religion greatly diminished and these religious groups inevitably would face suppression. Due to the nature of Marxism-Leninism, any religious creed or teaching started to form an ideological threat to the (legitimacy of the) communist government. As a result, religion became inextricable bound up with the politics of the Party. Second, religion became only possible as a strictly isolated and controlled institute within Chinese society.

There is thus a much greater sensitivity towards religion than has ever existed historically. I assume that even if China’s social and economic situation would have been better than it was in 1999 (and thus the legitimate leadership position of the CCP less challenged), the government would have started the same campaign, albeit probably with a less ferocious attitude. This is simply because the Falun Gong cannot exist in its actual form within the framework of the policy of freedom of religious belief. So the campaign against the Falun Gong is basically a communist reaction, but due to the concurrence of withering economics and the emergence of an unorthodox religious group, the reaction of the current Chinese government corresponds to the reaction of its imperial predecessors when dealing with that religious group.



  1. Office of International Information Programs, US Department of State. Internet source, hereafter IS. (Internet sources are listed in a separate section under secondary sources.) Back
  2. Aldridge (2000) p. 55. Back
  3. Beckford (1985) pp. 12+13. Back
  4. See the homepage of the Falun Gong Organization: Overview (IS) Back
  5. Jian (58.4) p. 962. Back
  6. Schipper (1994) p. 7. Back
  7. Jian (58.4) pp. 970-971. Back
  8. Ibid. p. 973. Back
  9. Micollier (June 2000) p. 32. Back
  10. See the homepage of the Falun Gong Organization: Background (IS) Back
  11. Ter Haar (1992) p. 12. Back

Chapter one: link to the past

  1. Wang (1989) p. 1. Back
  2. Ibid. p. 2. Back
  3. Ibid. Back
  4. Ter Haar (1992) p. 13. Back
  5. Ibid. p. 14. Back
  6. Gong Bohou, Mogui xiejiao tuan (devilish cult organization). Wuhan: Changjiang Wenyi Chubanshe, 1994. Back
  7. Xin Zhisheng, Weishenme shuo Falun Gong shi xiejiao bu shi zongjiao. Back
  8. The text of his talk is based on audio transcript (see bibliography). Back
  9. Since these groups were sometimes implicated in rebellion, the word ‘White Lotus’ also became a label for groups who not necessarily belonged to the White Lotus, but were seen as (potentially) dangerous. Back
  10. Ter Haar (IS) Back

Chapter two: religious policy of the CCP before 1949

  1. Esposito (2000) p. 623. Back
  2. Ibid. p. 624. Back
  3. Bush (1970) p. 298. Back
  4. Welch (1967) p. 408. Back
  5. Ibid. pp. 241-42. Back
  6. Bush (1970) p. 265. Back
  7. Wang (1989) p. 49. Back
  8. Ibid. p. 8. Back
  9. Ibid. p. 10. Back
  10. Spence (1990) p. 407. Back
  11. Wang (1989) p. 48. Back
  12. Ibid. pp. 50+51. Back
  13. He, H.Y.H (2001) p. 264. Back
  14. Wang (1989) p. 62. Back
  15. Bochenski (1975) p. 1. Back
  16. Ibid. p. 7. Back
  17. Ibid. p. 9. Back
  18. Ibid. p. 10. Back
  19. Gong (1999) p. 277. Back
  20. Ibid. p. 278. Back
  21. Ibid. p. 278. Back

Chapter three: religious policy of the CCP (1949-1978)

  1. Wang (1989) p. 13. Back
  2. Ibid. p. 15. Back
  3. Ibid. p. 18. Back
  4. Ibid. p. 20. Back
  5. Ibid. p. 279. Back
  6. Gong (1999) p. 279. Back
  7. Ibid. p. 325. Back
  8. Wickeri (1990) p. 50. Back
  9. Ibid. p. 50. Back
  10. Ibid. p. 52. Back
  11. Ibid. p. 93. Back
  12. In 1954 the CPPCC was superseded by the National People’s Congress (NPC) as the highest governmental body. After this year, the CPPCC only retained its United Front and consultative functions. Wickeri (1990) p. 67. Back
  13. Ibid. p. 66. Back
  14. Spiegel (1997) p. 17. Back
  15. This information about the ‘five characteristics of religion’ is derived from Wickeri (1990) pp. 84-88. Back
  16. Bush (1970) p. 31. Back
  17. Luo (1991) p. 141. Back
  18. Ibid. pp. 138-139. Back
  19. He (March 1999) pp. 6+7. Back
  20. These activities are called feudal because they are considered to be leftovers from the feudal period of China when the ‘reactionary ruling class’ supported superstitious beliefs and activities ‘to deceive people, in order to consolidate its reactionary rule and protect class interests’. Back
  21. MacInnes (1989) p. 397. Remarks between brackets have been added by me. Back
  22. Ibid. p. 404. Back
  23. Commentator of Science Daily (June 30, 1999) Back
  24. MacInnes (1989) p. 398. Back
  25. For example the Yiguan Dao (Way of Basic Unity) Society. In 1950 and 1951, Tianjin authorities used the Suppression of Counterrevolutionaries campaign to attack as many as 4000 leaders of the Society. Spence, p. 535. Back
  26. Luo (1991) pp. 64-66. Back
  27. Ibid. p. 68. Back
  28. Ibid. p. 70. Back
  29. Bush (1970) p. 266. Back
  30. Luo (1991) pp. 59+63. Back
  31. Bush (1970) p. 62. Back
  32. This information is abstracted from Robert Entenmann’s The Problem of Chinese Rites in Eighteenth-Century Sichuan in Uhalley and Wu (2001) pp. 127-136. Back
  33. Wickeri (1990) p. 51. Back
  34. Luo (1991) pp. 63+64. Back
  35. Bush (1970) p. 32. Back
  36. Luo (1991) p. 144. Back
  37. Wickeri (1990) p. 179. Back
  38. Red Guards were groups of university and middle school students who claimed allegiance to Mao and acted as the executors of the Cultural Revolution directives to attack “feudal” and “reactionary” elements of society. See Spence (1990) p. 803. Back
  39. Wickeri (1990) pp. 179+180. Back

Chapter four: religious policy of the CCP after 1978

  1. Baum (1994) pp. 52,54,56. Back
  2. Spence (1990) p. 678. Back
  3. At this time, Deng not only wanted to open up China to trade&
    with the West, he also wanted to learn from the West. So policies were drawn up to dispatch students and scientists to foreign countries. Baum (1994) p. 56 and Spence (1990) p. 656. Back
  4. Baum (1994) pp. 63-64. Back
  5. He (2001) p. 75. Back
  6. Knight (1998) p. 150. In the Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party Since the Founding of the People’s Republic of China Mao Zedong Thought was interpreted as the collective wisdom of China’s veteran revolutionary leaders. See Li (1995) p. 265-67. Back
  7. Ibid. p. 152. Back
  8. Gong (1999) p. 328. Back
  9. Ho (1983) pp. 59+60. Back
  10. Gong (1999) p. 284. Back
  11. Renmin Ribao, (December 6, 1990) and Gong (1999) p. 283. (Newspaper articles of the Renmin Ribao are listed chronologically in a separate section under primary sources.) Back
  12. Lilun Yuekan (July 1995) p. 22. Back
  13. Ibid. p. 23. Back
  14. He (2001) p. 75. Back
  15. Ibid. p. 76. Back
  16. Ibid. p. 77. Back
  17. Gong (1999) p. 285. Back
  18. Ibid. p. 335. Back
  19. Ibid. p. 332 and MacInnes (1989) p. 427. Back
  20. Pas (1989) p. 1. Back
  21. Ibid. p. 14. Back
  22. Spiegel (1997) p. 1. Back
  23. Ibid. p. 20. Back
  24. Ibid. p. 2. Back
  25. Jian (58.4) p. 963. Back
  26. Ibid. p. 965. Back
  27. MacInnes (1989) p. 386. Back
  28. James Randi is an American who tries to expose supernatural feats of famous magicians, mystic healers, spokespersons of God and the like. He can imitate many of their tricks himself. Jian (58.4) pp. 981-982 / n.28. Back

Chapter five: introducing the Falun Gong

  1. Micollier (June 2000) p. 32 and Renmin Ribao (December 28, 1999) Back
  2. See Falun Gong Organization: Background (IS) Back
  3. Micollier (June 2000) p. 32. Back
  4. Renmin Ribao (December 28, 1999) Back
  5. Zhang (1999) p.142. Back
  6. Ibid. p.143. Back
  7. Ibid. Back
  8. Rosenthal, Elisabeth and Erik Eckholm (October, 28 1999) (IS) Back
  9. Micollier (June 2000) p. 32. Back
  10. See Falun Gong Organization: Overview (IS) Back
  11. See Barend ter Haar (IS) Back
  12. Li (2000) pp. 27-28. (IS) Back
  13. Vermander (May-June 2001) p. 11. Back
  14. Palmer (May-June 2001) p. 14. Back
  15. Vermander (May-June 2001) p. 8. Back
  16. See Ter Haar (IS) Back
  17. Zhongguo shehuikexueyuan Falun Gong xianxiang zonghe yanjiu ketizu zhexue fenzu (1999) p. 2. Back
  18. Zhang (1999) p.141. Back
  19. Spaeth, Antony (154.4) (IS) Back
  20. Zhang (1999) p.140. Back
  21. Ibid. Back
  22. John Pomfret (August 7, 1999) (IS) Back
  23. Micollier (June 2000) p. 32. Back
  24. Biema, David van (153.18) (IS) Back

Chapter six: the government campaign against the Falun Gong

  1. Micollier (June 2000) p. 32. Back
  2. Renmin Ribao (August 13, 1999) Back
  3. Ibid. Back
  4. Hsieh, David (May 2000) (IS) Back
  5. Renmin Ribao (August 13, 1999) Back
  6. Renmin Ribao (June 15, 2000) Back
  7. Renmin Ribao (July 27, 2000)
  8. Ibid. Back
  9. Faison, Seth (August 6, 1999) (IS) Back
  10. Hutzler, Charles, “Falun Gong Protests Intensify” (October 29, 1999) (IS) Back
  11. Ibid., “Falun Gong Speaks Out” (October 29, 1999) (IS) Back
  12. Ibid. Back
  13. Amnesty International, (March 23, 2000) p. 18. (IS) Back
  14. Ibid. p. 21. Back
  15. South China Morning Post (April 25, 2000) (IS) Back
  16. Amnesty International (March 23, 2000) p. 23. (IS) Back
  17. South China Morning Post (April 25, 2000) (IS) and Reuters (April 25, 2000) (IS) Back
  18. Staff Reporters and Agencies of the South China Morning Post (April 25, 2000) (IS) Back

Chapter seven: the official documents legalizing the eradication

  1. Zhonggong Zhongyang (1999) Back
  2. ‘Gongchandangyuan bu xin xie’ bianweihui (1999) p. 7. Back
  3. Ibid. p. 11. Back
  4. Ibid. pp. 18-20. Back
  5. Renmin Ribao (October 31, 1999) p. 1. (B) Back
  6. Amnesty International (March 23, 2000) p. 16. Back
  7. Renmin Ribao (October 31, 1999) (C) Back
  8. Amnesty International (March 23, 2000) p. 17. Back
  9. Renmin Ribao (July 30, 1999) Back
  10. Renmin Ribao (October 31, 1999) (C) Back
  11. Amnesty International (March 23, 2000) p. 18. Back
  12. Renmin Ribao (July 24, 1999) Back
  13. Renmin Ribao (October 31, 1999) (A) Back
  14. Zhonggong Zhongyang Xuanchuanbu lilunju zuzhi (1999) p. 112. Back
  15. Ibid. Back

Chapter eight: the accusations uttered against the Falun Gong

  1. Zhongguo shehuikexueyuan ‘Falun Gong’ xianxiang zonghe yanjiu ketizu Maliesuo fenzu (1999) pp. 8-9. Back
  2. Renmin Ribao (July 31, 1999) p. 1. Back
  3. Ibid. Back
  4. Renmin Ribao (January 13, 2000) Back
  5. Renmin Ribao (June 21, 1999) Back
  6. Renmin Ribao (July 23, 1999) Back
  7. Renmin Ribao (January 5, 2000) Back
  8. Renmin Ribao (July 31, 1999) p. 5. Back
  9. Renmin Ribao (August 2, 1999) Back
  10. Renmin Ribao (August 1, 1999) (B) Back
  11. Renmin Ribao (August 1, 1999) (A) Back
  12. Ibid. Back
  13. Renmin Ribao (August 2, 1999) Back
  14. Renmin Ribao (August 1, 1999) (A) Back
  15. People’s Daily special commentator (November 6, 1999) Back
  16. Renmin Ribao (October 29, 1999) Back
  17. Renmin Ribao (November 3, 1999) Back


Primary sources

  • Commentator of Science Daily, “Xiang mixin xuanzhan” (Declare war to superstition). Kexue Shibao. June 30, 1999.
  • Dou Xiaomin and Sun Longguo, “Zongjiao yu shehuizhengzhi wending” (Religion and the social – political stability). Lilun Yuekan. July, 1995, p. 21–24.
  • Gong Xuezeng, ed., Zongjiao wenti gailun (An introduction to reli
    gious problems). Sichuan: Sichuan Renmin Chubanshe, 1999.
  • ‘Gongchandangyuan bu xin xie’ bianweihui (Editing Committee of ‘Members of the Communist Party do not believe in heresy’), Gongchandangyuan bu xin xie: makesizhuyi weiwulun he wushenlun jiaoyu fudaocailiao (Members of the Communist Party do not believe in heresy: guiding materials for the education on Marxist’s materialism and atheism). Beijing: Zhongguo Fangzheng Chubanshe, 1999.
  • He Kemin, “Zhongguo de zongjiao he zongjiaozhengce,” (Religions and the religious policy of China). Wushenlun zongjiao / fuyin baokan ziliao (atheism and religion / copied materials from newspapers and periodicals), March, 1999, p. 5–7.
  • People’s Daily special commentator, ” ‘Falun Gong’ jiu shi xiejiao,” (The ‘Falun Gong’ is a cult). Abstract taken from Hubei Daily of 28 October 1999 in Gongqingtuan Wuhan Qiche Gongye Daxue Weiyuanhui (Committee of the Communist Youth League of the Wuhan University of Auto Industry) Gongqingtuan Wuhan Qiche Gongye Daxue Weiyuanhui guanyu fandui ‘Falun Gong’ xiejiao de xuexi cailiao (Study material opposing the “Falun Gong’ cult of the Committee of the Communist Youth League of the Wuhan University of Auto Industry). Wuhan: November 6, 1999.
  • Zhang Li, ed., Xiandai huangyan: Li Hongzhi waili xieshuo pingxi (Modern lies: a critical analysis of Li Hongzhi’s false reasonings and heretical ideas). Beijing: Zhongguo Shuji Chubanshe, 1999.
  • Zhongguo shehuikexueyuan ‘Falun Gong’ xianxiang zonghe yanjiu ketizu Maliesuo fenzu (Directorate of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the Commission of Comprehensive Research on the ‘Falun Gong’ phenomenon of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences), Makesi zhuyi: shijieguan renshengguan jiazhiguan jiaoyu duben (Marxism: a textbook on world outlook, outlook on human life and values). Beijing: Renmin Chubanshe, 1999.
  • Zhongguo shehuikexueyuan Falun Gong xianxiang zonghe yanjiu ketizu zhexue fenzu (Directorate of Philosophy of the Commission of Comprehensive Research on the ‘Falun Gong’ phenomenon of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences), Jiekai ‘Falun Gong’ de Lushan zhen mianmu (Exposing the true face of the ‘Falun Gong’). Beijing: Renmin Chubanshe, 1999.
  • Zhonggong Zhongyang (Central Committee), Zhonggong zhongyang guanyu gongchandangyuan buzhun xiulian ‘Falun Dafa’ de tongzhi (Circular of the Central Committee on the prohibition for members of the Communist Party to practice the ‘Falun Dafa’). Beijing: Renmin Chubanshe, 1999.
  • Zhonggong Zhongyang Xuanchuanbu lilunju zuzhi (Directorate of the Theoretical Bureau of the Propaganda Department of the CPC Central Committee), Jianshe you Zhongguo tese shehuizhuyi ruogan lilunwenti xuexi gangyao (Essentials for the study of several theoretical issues of building a socialism with Chinese characteristics). Beijing: Xuexi Chubanshe, 1998.

Renmin Ribao (People’s Daily)

  • People’s Daily commentator, “Li Peng zai quanguo zongjiao gongzuo huiyi shang qiangdiao: zuohao zongjiao gongzuo jianshe shehuizhuyi zuguo” (During the National Religious Work Conference Li Peng underlined: carry out religious work well, build a socialist motherland). Renmin Ribao. December, 6, 1990.
  • Xinhua News Agency, “Zhongban Guoban Xinfangju fuzeren jiedai bufen Falun Gong shangfang renyuan tanhua yaodian,” (The main points of the conversation between leading cadres of the petition offices of the General Office of the CPC Central Committee and the General Office of the State Council receiving a part of Falun Gong petitioners). Renmin Ribao. June 15, 1999.
  • People’s Daily commentator, “Chongshang kexue pochu mixin,” (Advocate science and eradicate superstition). Renmin Ribao. June, 21, 1999, p. 1.
  • Gonganbu Yanjiushi (The Research Room of the Ministry of Public Security), “Li Hongzhi qiren qishi” (Li Hongzhi, the Man, the Story). Renmin Ribao. July, 23, 1999, p.4.
  • Xinhua News Agency, “Minzhengbu youguan fuzeren zhichu: qudi ‘Falun Dafa Yanjiuhui’ shi yifa zuochu de jueding,” (Leading cadres of the Department of Civil Affairs pointed out: the outlaw of the ‘Falun Dafa Research Association’ is a decision according to the law). Renmin Ribao July 24, 1999, p. 2.
  • Reporters of the People’s Daily, “Xinwenchubanshu Gonganbu deng fachu jinji tongzhi yaoqiu jizhong qingli ‘Falun Gong’ lei chubanwu,” (The Press and Publication Administration, the Ministry of Public Security etc. issued an urgent circular demanding to collect and clear ‘Falun Gong’ publications). Renmin Ribao. July 27, 1999.
  • Gonganbu (Ministry of Public Security), “Zhonghuarenmingongheguo Gonganbu tongjiling gongji 1999 0102 hao,” (Wanted circular of the Ministry of Public Security of the People’s Republic of China, public warrant of 1999 no. 0102). Renmin Ribao. July 30, 1999.
  • Special commentator of the Xinhua News Agency, “Qudi feifa zuzhi weihu shehui wending,” (Outlaw illegal organizations, protect social stability). Renmin Ribao. July 31, 1999, p.1.
  • Ma Jinshan and Wu Wenan, ” ‘Falun Gong’ haisi le wo fuqin” (The ‘Falun Gong’ killed my father). Renmin Ribao. July 31, 1999, p.5.
  • Commentator of the Qiu Shi Magazine, “Jiepi Li Hongzhi ji qi ‘Falun Dafa’ shi yi chang yansu de zhengzhi douzheng” (Exposing and criticizing Li Hongzhi and his ‘Falun Dafa’ is a serious political struggle). Renmin Ribao. August 1, 1999. (A)
  • Dai Peng, “Bu canyu zhengzhi shi pianren de guihua: yuan ‘Falun Gong’ Henan zongzhan zhanzhang, fuzhanzhang chanhuilu” (Not participating in politics is a deceiving lie: record of repentance of the former head and deputy of the Henan ‘Falun Gong’ teaching center). Renmin Ribao. August 1, 1999. (B)
  • Special commentator of the Xinhua News Agency, “Chongfen renshi ‘Falun Gong’ zuzhi de zhengzhi benzhi,” (Completely understand the political nature of the ‘Falun Gong’ organization). Renmin Ribao. August 2, 1999, p.1.
  • Niu Aimin, Wang Xueming and Wu Xia, “Li Hongzhi cehua zhihui ‘4.25’ feifa juji shijian zhenxiang,” (The truth of Li Hongzhi planning and commanding the ‘4.25’ illegal gathering-case). Renmin Ribao. August 13, 1999, p. 5.
  • Xinhua News Agency, “Shoudu zongjiaojie shekejie renshi juxing zuotanhui: yanli pipan ‘Falun Gong’ xiejiao,” (The capital’s religious circles and people of the social scienc
    es circles held a symposium during which they heavily criticized the “Falun Gong” cult). Renmin Ribao. October 29, 1999.
  • People’s Daily commentator, “Yifa zhiguo yancheng xiejiao,” (Govern the country according to the law, severely punish cults). Renmin Ribao October 31, 1999, p. 1. (A)
  • Xinhua News Agency, “Quanguo Renmin Daibiao Dahui Changwu Weiyuanhui guanyu qudi xiejiao zuzhi, fangfan he chengzhi xiejiao huodong de jueding,” (Decisions of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on banning cult organizations, preventing and punishing cult activities). Renmin Ribao. October 31, 1999, p.1. (B)
  • Xinhua News Agency, “Zui gao renminfayuan zui gao renminjianchayuan guanyu banli zuzhi he liyong xiejiao zuzhi fanzui anjian juti yingyong falü ruogan wenti de jieshi, ” (The explanation on questions on the concrete application of laws in handling criminal cases of organizing and using cult organizations of the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procurator). Renmin Ribao. October 31, 1999, p.2. (C)
  • Fu Fang, ” ‘Falun Gong’ shi dididaodao de xiejiao,” (‘Falun Gong’ is an outright cult). Renmin Ribao. November 3, 1999, p.5.
  • Xin Zhisheng, “Weishenme shuo ‘Falun Gong’ shi xiejiao bu shi zongjiao,” (Why say that the Falun Gong is a cult and not religion). Renmin Ribao. December 2, 1999, p. 3.
  • Niu Aimin and Wang Xueming, “Zhengyi de shenpan xie’e de fumie: cong ‘Falun Gong’ xiejiaozuzhi gugan shoushen kan ‘Falun Gong’ de taotao zuixing” (Trial of justice, destruction of evil: see the surge of crimes of the ‘Falun Gong’ through the trials of key-members of the ‘Falun Gong’ cult organization). Renmin Ribao. December 28, 1999.
  • Liu Liangming and Meng Hui, “Dou shi ‘Falun Gong’ haide: Huhehuoteshi yuan ‘Falun Gong’ fuzhang Bao Jinquan fangtan” (All were harmed by the ‘Falun Gong’: Interview with Bao Jinquan, the former ‘Falun Gong’ deputy [of the teaching center] of Huhhot). Renmin Ribao. January 5, 2000.
  • Gao Qinghai, “Jianchi kexue jingshen fandui xiandai mixin,” (Adhere to the spirit of science, oppose modern superstition). Renmin Ribao. January 13, 2000, p.3.

Secondary sources

  • Aldridge, Alan, Religion in the Contemporary World: A Sociological Introduction. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000.
  • Baum Richard, Burying Mao: Chinese Politics in the Age of Deng Xiaoping. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1994.
  • Beckford, James A., Cult Controversies. London: Tavistock Publications Ltd, 1985.
  • Bush, Richard C., Jr., Religion in Communist China. Nashville: Abington Press, 1970.
  • Bochenski, J.M., ‘Marxism-Leninism and Religion,’ in Bohdan R. Bociurkiw and John W. Strong, eds., Religion and Atheism in the U.S.S.R. and Eastern Europe. London: The Macmillan Press Ltd, 1975.
  • Entenmann, Robert, ‘The Problem of Chinese Rites in Eighteenth-Century Sichuan,’ in Stephen Uhalley, Jr. and Xiaoxin Wu, eds., China and Christianity: Burdened Past, Hopeful Future. An East Gate Book. New York and London: M.E. Sharpe, 2001.
  • Esposito Monica, ‘Daoism in the Qing (1644-1911)’ in Livia Kohn, ed., Daoism Handbook. Leiden, Boston and Köln: Brill, 2000.
  • Haar, B. J. ter, The White Lotus Teachings in Chinese Religious History. Leiden, New York, Köln: E.J. Brill, 1992.
  • He, Henry Yuhuai, Dictionary of the Political Thought of the People’s Republic of China. New York and London: M.E. Sharpe, 2001.
  • Ho Chih-cheng, The Fourth Constitution of Communist China. Republic of China: World Anti-Communist League, 1983.
  • Jian Xu, “Body, Discourse, and the Cultural Politics of Contemporary Chinese Qigong,” The Journal of Asian Studies, 58.4: 961-991.
  • Li, Kwok-sing, A Glossary of Political Terms of the People’s Republic of China. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 1995.
  • Luo Zhufeng, Religion under socialism in China. Translated from the Chinese by Donald MacInnis and Zheng Xi’an. London: M.E. Sharpe, 1991.
  • MacInnes, Donald E., Religion in China Today: Policy and Practice. New York: Orbis Books, 1989.
  • Micollier, Eveline, “Qigong Groups and Civil Society in P.R. China,” IIAS Newsletter, 22 (June 2000): 32.
  • Palmer, David, “The Doctrine of Li Hongzhi. Falun Gong: Between Sectarianism and Universal Salvation,” China Perspectives, 35 (May-June 2001): 14-24.
  • Pas, Julian F., ‘Introduction: Chinese Religion in Transition,’ in Julian F. Pas ed., The Turning of the Tide: Religion in China Today. Hong Kong: Hong Kong Branch Royal Asiatic Society, 1989.
  • Schipper, K., Tao: De Levende Religie van China. Amsterdam: Meulenhoff, 1994 (derde druk).
  • Spence, Jonathan D., The Search for Modern China. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1990.
  • Spiegel, Micky, China: State Control of Religion. New York: Human Rights Watch / Asia, 1997.
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  • Welch, Holmes, The Practice of Chinese Buddhism 1900-1950. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1967.
  • Wickeri, Philip, L., Seeking the Common Ground: Protestant Christianity, the Three-Self Movement, and China’s United Front. New York, Orbis Books, 1990.

Internet sources (IS)

  • Amnesty International, People’s Republic of China: The Crackdown on Falun Gong and Other So-called ‘Heretical Organizations. March 23, 2000.
  • Biema, David van, “The Man with the Qi: His Spiritual movement has galvanized millions in China but Li Hongzhi has more on his mind,” Time Magazine, 153.18 (1999). S
  • Falun Dafa Organization
  • Faison, Seth, “An Air of Reluctance in China’s Crackdown on Falun Gong,” The New York Times on the Web. August 6, 1999.*
  • Haar, Barend ter, “Falun Gong: Evaluation and Further References.” See Introductory Remarks at http://www.let.leidenuniv.nl/bth/falun.htm.
  • Hsieh, David, “A Two-Way Siege: Falungong struggles after being banned, but still scares Beijing,” Asiaweek, 26.5 (2000).*
  • Hutzler, Charles, “Falun Gong Protests Intensify,” Associated Press, October 29, 1999. and “Falun Gong Speaks Out,” Associated Press, October 29, 1999.*
  • Li Hongzhi, Zhuan Falun. English Internet Version: Third Translation Edition, March 2000. See http://www.falundafa.org/eng/books.htm
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, see: http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/5054.html. Office of International Information Programs, US Department of State. Seehttp://www.usinfo.state.gov/regional/ea/uschina/lantos56.htm
  • Ownby, David, “Falun Gong as a Cultural Revitalization Movement: An Historian Looks at Contemporary China” (text of Ownby’s talk given at Rice University). See http:http://www:ruf.rice.edu/~tnchina/commentary/ownby1000.html
  • Pfaff, William, “China: The Regime has Cause to Worry about Falun Gong.” International Herald Tribune Paris, July 29, 1999.*
  • Pomfret, John, ‘Sect Pull on Communist at Heart of Beijing’s Fears: Falun Gong Fills Breach Left by Party.’ Washington Post Foreign Service, July 28, 1999.*
  • Pomfret, John, “China Sect Penetrated Military and Police: Security Infiltration Spurred Crackdown,” Washington
  • Post Foreign Service, August 7, 1999 page A15.*
  • Reuters, “Sect Rocks Tiananmen on Demo Anniversary,” South China Morning Post, April 25, 2000.*
  • Rosenthal, Elisabeth and Erik Eckholm, “Falun Gong Devotees Converge on Beijing in Bid to End Government Ban,” The New York Times on the Web, October 28, 1999.*
  • South China Morning Post, “Rise and Fall,” South China Morning Post, April 25, 2000.*
  • Spaeth, Antony, “I Am Just an Ordinary Man,” Time Magazine, 154.4 (1999). See http://www.cesnur.org/testi/falun_updates.htm.
  • Staff Reporters and Agencies, “Beijing ‘Losing Propaganda War on Sect’,” South China Morning Post, April 25, 2000.*

* Printed version available at the Documentation and Research Center for Contemporary China, Sinological Institute, Leiden University.

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