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Thread: FALUN GONG/Falun Dafa

  1. #1396
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    Shen Yun

    You've seen the ads. But what's the deal with Shen Yun?
    By Alix Martichoux, SFGATE Updated 1:24 pm PST, Saturday, December 22, 2018


    Photo: NewTang Dynasty TV
    Photos provided by Shen Yun Performing Arts show a portion of the dance show.

    Unless you live under a rock, you've probably seen a billboard or heard dozens of ads for Shen Yun Performing Arts.

    In the Bay Area, people are so used to seeing the ads on TV and on the sides of buses come December, people even joke winter should be renamed "Shen Yun season." Since I started writing this article about two minutes ago, I've already seen a Shen Yun spot run on KTVU.

    Jonathan Kauffman

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    San Francisco seasons, 2017-2018:
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    But what is it? The answer is a little complicated.

    Shen Yun bills itself as "the world's premier classical Chinese dance and music company." They have performances in 93 cities around the country, from Billings, Mont., to Little Rock, Ark., to three Bay Area locations. The dress code suggests you might want to wear a tuxedo or evening gown since you're "in for a special treat." If you buy a ticket to a show (which run from $80 to $400 in San Francisco), you can expect two hours of traditional Chinese dance accompanied by a live orchestra.

    And if you're to believe Shen Yun's own advertisements, you'll get so much more. The hyperbolic 2018 ad promises the performance will "move you to tears" and change how you see the world.



    The former minister of culture of the Czech Republic is quoted in the advertisement calling it "truly a touch of heaven."

    But (surprise, surprise), the ads may be overselling it a bit.

    Some people who go to the show complain they didn't know what they were in for. Because nowhere in the effusive advertisements is it mentioned that Shen Yun has a political bent. Shen Yun translates to "divine rhythm," and according to the show's website, the artists who put on Shen Yun practice Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, a belief system that encompasses meditation, tai chi-type exercises, and "strict morality" (smoking, alcohol, and extramarital or same-sex sexual relations go against the teachings).

    A 2017 Guardian article by Nicholas Hune-Brown describes one part of the show:

    The curtain rose on a group of young students sitting in peace, meditating and reading oversized yellow Falun Gong books. The dancers performed elaborately pantomimed good deeds – helping an old woman with a cane, chasing down a woman who had dropped her purse. But when one unveiled a Falun Gong banner, suddenly a trio of men wearing black tunics emblazoned with a red hammer-and-sickle entered. The communist thugs began beating people up, clubbing and kicking innocent Falun Gong followers.

    Scenes like that didn't sit well with all viewers.

    The Fresno Bee's arts writer Donald Munro saw Shen Yun in 2016, and called the show "a beautiful and odd production that veers wildly between two extremes: delicate artistic excellence on one hand and a brusque, heavy-handed effort to inculcate political and spiritual viewpoints on the other."

    Many people posting reviews on Yelp weren't as eloquent.

    "Be warned: Religious sermon!" reads a Yelp review from someone who saw the show in Fresno. "I WALKED OUT as soon as anti-evolution statements were made on the screen. False advertising!"

    "I rate this a Zero star. This show is purely CULT PROPAGANDA. Do not waste your money and time for this," said Ron F. from Pittsburg, Calif.

    The Chinese government is not a fan either. The practice of Falun Gong is forbidden in China and its members are routinely persecuted. In condemning the "so-called 'Shen Yun'" performance, the embassy's website calls Falun Gong a "...cult that seriously harms the society and violates human rights, and is a cancer in the body of the modern and civilized society."

    The Guardian reports "there's no evidence of the kind of coercive control that the label suggests." Besides, it's not like the Chinese government has a stellar human rights record. According to Shen Yun's website, many of the dance company's members were persecuted and tortured for practicing Falun Gong in China.

    Falun Gong started as a form of exercise in 1992. Followers would gather in public spaces to do qigong, which combines slow movements and meditation. Falun Gong combined those physical practices with spirituality and Taoist moral principles. In the late 90s, as Falun Gong gained steam and millions of followers, the Chinese Communist Party may have felt threatened by its size and popularity, so it cracked down. Thousands of practitioners were imprisoned or in some cases tortured. The founder, Li Hongzhi, now lives in New York.

    Multiple attempts to speak with a Shen Yun spokesperson, by phone and by email, for this story were unsuccessful.

    Love it or hate it, Shen Yun has provoked some strong opinions. Here's a selection of Yelp reviews of Shen Yun's Bay Ares shows.

    For many disgruntled Shen Yun attendees, it's not necessarily that the show itself is bad — though to be fair, some complain it is. Most of the negative reviews were people upset they were blindsided by the political content.

    According to Shen Yun's website, it's an "experience like no other." And on that note, it appears pretty much everyone agrees.
    If you live in the SF Bay Area, the inundation of Shen Yun ads is ridiculous, bigger than any promotion right now. They got major bank for that kind of advertising blitz.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  2. #1397
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    More on Shen Yun

    I guess San Antonio sees this a little differently.

    Immerse Yourself in Chinese Culture at the Shen Yun Performance at the Tobin
    Posted By Bryan Rindfuss on Wed, Dec 26, 2018 at 10:04 am


    Courtesy of Shen Yun Performing Arts

    Dichotomies and conflicts abound in the contested world of Shen Yun, a New York-based outfit with a mission “to use performing arts to revive the essence of Chinese culture — traditionally considered a divinely inspired civilization.” For starters, the organization, which comprises five separate companies of roughly 40 dancers, each accompanied by live orchestras fusing Eastern and Western sounds, aims to preserve ancient Chinese traditions while performing in front of digitized scenery that’s been likened to everything from video-game graphics to IMAX movies.

    Far more important is the fact that Shen Yun is essentially the cultural arm of Falun Gong (aka Falun Dafa), a movement that arose from China’s “qigong boom” of the 1990s only to morph from a movement/breathing-based concept into a spiritual practice that’s ferociously condemned (and officially banned) by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as a dangerous cult. Add to this equation that enigmatic, U.S.-based Falun Gong founder Li Hongzhi has spoken publicly about alien invasions and his followers’ levitation abilities and it’s not surprising that folks often draw comparisons to the absurdities of scientology. Unwittingly, the CCP’s ongoing war with Falun Gong and Shen Yun — which runs the gamut from imprisonment and torture to global interference and the cancellation of performances — has inspired sympathy from Westerners and sparked Shen Yun to assume a more political stance.

    As a result, Shen Yun now addresses the persecution of Falun Gong followers in routines based on human-rights abuses and the criminalization of meditation. Further muddying the waters, Li has taken measures to separate the cash cow that is Shen Yun from Falun Gong — at its core a conservative entity that’s opposed to ****sexuality and premarital sex.

    Unsurprisingly, the majority of these details go largely unnoticed at Shen Yun’s frequently sold-out shows, where exhaustively trained dancers and acrobats move in pitch-perfect unison, gliding (levitating?) effortlessly through the air in elegant costumes adorned with yards of billowing fabric.




    $83.50-$183.50, 7:30pm Fri Dec. 28, 2pm & 7pm Sat Dec. 29, 1pm Sun Dec. 30, Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, 100 Auditorium Circle, (210) 223-8624, tobincenter.org.
    Gene Ching
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  3. #1398
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    Real Bodies...


    ‘Real Bodies’ in UK anatomical exhibition could be executed Chinese prisoners, says doctor

    The 20 skinless bodies, sourced via Dalian Medical University, have prompted calls for an investigation
    The Guardian
    Published: 12:47pm, 9 Aug, 2018


    Human remains are seen at the “Real Bodies” exhibition in Sydney, Australia, in April. The travelling anatomical show is currently in Birmingham in Britain. Photo: EPA

    The bodies of 20 people featured in a UK museum exhibition could be those of Chinese prisoners once detained in labour camps, and recipients of the death penalty in China, according to a leading doctor.
    The Real Bodies exhibition, currently at the Birmingham NEC, publicly displays the skinless preserved Chinese bodies. But there are now calls for an investigation into their identities and cause of death to be held while they are in the UK.
    The bodies were provided to the event organisers, Imagine Exhibitions, through the Dalian Medical University in China.
    Campaigner Dr David Nicholl, a consultant neurologist at City Hospital Birmingham, said that the university’s facilities in the city of Dalian were within driving distance of labour and prison camps.


    An attendant cleans an exhibit at the “Real Bodies” anatomical show in Sydney, in April. The travelling show is currently in Birmingham in Britain. Photo: EPA
    I have huge questions about why all these unclaimed bodies come from Dalian in sizeable numbers and how many bodies Imagine Exhibitions have actually got
    Dr David Nicholl, City Hospital Birmingham
    Coupled with the large number of bodies of the same age and gender, and the lack of any identity information, Nicholl suspects the bodies could be those of executed inmates.
    “I have huge questions about why all these unclaimed bodies come from Dalian in sizeable numbers and how many bodies Imagine Exhibitions have actually got,” he said.
    “My own registrar went to this exhibition. I asked him to note down the gender and age of the bodies. They are all young men – none of them are elderly, which I have to say is pretty suspicious given that there are a number of labour camps within a matter of hours’ drive of Dalian.
    “If you look at these exhibitions they are never gender balanced – it’s always largely men. Most people who die, die when they’re older, so to have an exhibition like this is really suspicious.”
    Nicholl says event organisers were never given consent by individuals or their families for the bodies to be used.
    “I think the public are being conned,” he said.
    “Why are we having exhibitions like this in this country if they can’t prove consent?”
    Israel banned the exhibition in 2012 in a decision taken by judges in the Israeli Supreme Court, said Nicholl.


    Human remains are seen at the “Real Bodies” exhibition in Sydney, Australia, in April. The travelling anatomical show is currently in Birmingham in Britain. Photo: EPA
    I refuse to entertain these ridiculous accusations without a shred of evidence to back these baseless claims
    Tom Zaller, president of Imagine Exhibitions
    US investigative reporter and author Ethan Gutmann also alleges that the bodies in the exhibition could be political prisoners who practised Falun Gong, a religion banned in China in the late 90s.
    This move is thought to have resulted in thousands of people being imprisoned and executed in labour camps.
    Gutmann believes that one of the places bodies of persecuted people may have been taken to was Dalian Medical University, as it is in the same province as Masanjia labour camp, one of the largest camps in China “specialising in Falun Gong”.
    “It’s a crime against humanity,” he said.
    “Several hundred thousand people were executed purely for being Falun Gong and you have a company which is potentially sending evidence all over the world.”
    Nicholl and Guttman are among the doctors, human rights activists, MPs and Lords who have signed a letter to Theresa May stating that the exhibition should be shut down.
    Guttman says he hopes the specimens will be DNA tested.
    “The DNA can be extracted and used to prove relations,” he said. “If we make some matches, we can identify family lines and you could ask them, do you have a missing person?
    “People in England have a right to know what they are seeing and people in China have a right to know what happened to their loved ones.”


    Human remains are seen at the “Real Bodies” exhibition in Sydney, Australia, in April. The travelling anatomical show is currently in Birmingham in Britain. Photo: EPA

    The Dalian Medical University released a statement in response saying: “All of these specimens are unclaimed bodies and are legally authorised to be received by the city morgue.
    “The specimens that are being presented in Real Bodies: The Exhibition were originally received from the city morgue and then transferred to medical universities in China and ultimately were legally donated to Dalian Hoffen Bio-Technique Laboratory for preservation, dissection and exhibition.”
    The statement rejected allegations that the specimens died of unnatural causes, detailing that following inspection “there is absolutely no evidence” that they “received trauma or physical abuse associated with torture, execution or other violent injury”.
    The president of Imagine Exhibitions, Tom Zaller, called the suspicions about the bodies “fake news”.
    “I refuse to entertain these ridiculous accusations without a shred of evidence to back these baseless claims,” he said.
    The exhibition includes more than 200 human organs, foetuses and body parts, also sourced from China, and has already been viewed by millions around the world.

    This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: bodies on show ‘could be executed prisoners’
    THREADS
    Where Shaolin Promoters hide the bodies...
    FALUN GONG/Falun Dafa
    Gene Ching
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  4. #1399
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    fake

    Dec 21, 2019 Ξ
    Hundreds of fake Facebook profiles tied to Epoch Times
    posted by Randall



    Facebook Friday removed hundreds of accounts generated by the Epoch Times which included profile photos produced using artificial intelligence, reported the New York Times.

    The Epoch Times is backed by the Falon Gong and tied to disinformation campaigns with a pro-Trump bias.

    “This was a large, brazen network that had multiple layers of fake accounts and automation that systematically posted content with two ideological focuses: support of Donald Trump and opposition to the Chinese government,” Graham Brookie, director of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, said to the New York Times.

    It featured the fake news Trump likes to rail about except of course when it benefits him. The Epoch Media group denied to the New York Times that it is behind the accounts removed by Facebook and claimed Facebook did not contact it.

    The Epoch Media Group acknowledged some of its former employees are involved with the banned accounts, but said that is not evidence of a connection.

    According to Fast Company, the Epoch Times strongly opposes the Chinese communist party with a decidedly strong pro-Trump bias.

    In August, NBC News reported the Epoch Times purchased 11,000 pro-Trump ads on Facebook at a cost of $1.5 million in six months. The ads spread conspiracy theories and criticized “fake news” media. Facebook banned the Epoch Times from advertising following the report.

    Both the Epoch Times and the Shen Yun dance troupe make up the bulk of the outreach efforts of the Falon Gong. The Falon Gong is a spiritual practice in China which the Chinese government began to consider a threat in 1999 due to its large following.
    Shen Yun is in the SF area now and once again, we're overwhelmed by the amount of advertising - billboards, TV commercials, web ads - Falun Gong has bank.
    Gene Ching
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  5. #1400
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    Note that this is Epoch Times

    I wonder if Mr. Dacy realizes what this might do to his visa application if he ever wants to go to PRC.

    Shen Yun Is ‘One of the Greatest Things I’ve Ever Seen’ Says Kung Fu Teacher
    January 27, 2020


    Ryan Dacy enjoyed Shen Yun at the San Diego Civic Theater, on Jan. 26, 2020. (Jana Li/The Epoch Times)

    SAN DIEGO—Culture is like a diamond. It has many facets. Traditional Chinese culture is especially rich in variety and depth, having given rise to martial arts such as kung fu and the highly expressive, technically stunning art form known as classical Chinese dance.

    Out of New York, Shen Yun Performing Arts is touring the world, showcasing traditional Chinese culture’s many facets. At the San Diego Civic Theater on Jan. 26, 2020, a local kung fu teacher Ryan Dacy took in Shen Yun and said “it’s one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen.”

    Ryan Dacy teaches “choy li fut” style of kung fu at White Dragon Martial Arts School near San Diego. He praised Shen Yun from the point of view of a martial artist.

    “It’s amazing. It’s beautiful. Watching it and I can see the kung fu and martial arts aspects of it. The amount of trainings and stuff that go into it. It’s absolutely beautiful. The mixture of the slow and fast. Very kind of tai chi-esque. It’s just absolutely amazing. I love the stories behind it, too. It’s beautiful. It’s one of the greatest things I’ve seen,” Dacy said.

    Dacy felt that the tumbling, flipping, jumping and kicking moves seen in Shen Yun had a connection to his own martial arts practice. It’s true that classical Chinese dance developed in parallel to martial arts, just as the word for dance and the word for martial arts in Chinese are ****nyms.

    Dacy said that the dancers’ dedication parallels the principles required in his classes. “And the motivation to learn these very specific skills. And timing is something that we want to work on when I teach my students, is working on that timing, waiting for that perfect time. To strike with that perfect time, to do that spin rounds that really make the eyes opened. Wow, that’s amazing,” he said.



    A hallmark of authentic Chinese culture is its depth of emotion and long history of profound legends. Dacy felt strong feelings from some of the touching stories on stage that day.

    “A lot of emotions for different parts,” he said. He described one piece in particular, “Abetting the Wicked,” and the profound sacrifice and redemption that was acted out.

    Sorrow and hope, fear and compassion intersect in the piece Dacy referred to, which depicts real scenes from the persecution of innocent spiritual believers in China today.

    “What I got from it was, you know, that the family and the brotherly love is just more important than—the rights and freedom is more important than just a job,” Dacy said.

    Various aspects of the production lent to the emotional impact of the storytelling.

    “The music is beautiful. I used to be in a band when I was in middle school. So, I like the music. It really makes you feel the emotion behind what they are doing. The show just tells you this story. You don’t need the words for the stories to be told,” Dacy added.

    Dacy spoke more about the performance’s classical Chinese dance and its patented backdrops.

    “I love it so much. They did an amazing job,” he said.

    “The backdrop is impressive. … I have not seen an incorporation like that. For the one that, ‘boom,’ and he has in his hands. That’s [a] fantastic job how they incorporated it. The music and dancing—like perfect on sync for everything. That must have taken years of practicing. It’s really impressive.”


    Shen Yun Performing Arts Global Company’s curtain call at the San Diego Civic Theater, on Jan. 26, 2020. (The Epoch Times)

    “I highly recommend it. I am going to tell some of the other instructors about it because I can see the martial arts aspects of it. And I absolutely recommend it,” Dacy added.

    With reporting by Jana Li and Brett Featherstone.
    The Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time and has covered audience reactions since the company’s inception in 2006.
    Gene Ching
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  6. #1401
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    Shen Yun must be in LA now...




    Inside the Shadowy World of Shen Yun and Its Secret Pro-Trump Ties

    The touring dance extravaganza’s parent organization is reportedly spending big bucks to promote the president on Facebook
    By Samuel Braslow -March 9, 2020

    Each spring the city is flooded by a deluge of advertising—from bright, colorful billboards to glossy mailers to round-the-clock TV commercials—heralding the imminent arrival of a quirky Chinese dance troupe named Shen Yun. Since the group first appeared in L.A. a decade ago, its exotic mix of traditional Chinese dance, Cirque du Soleil-like acrobatics, and anticommunist messaging has won a devoted audience. Critics may scoff at its outre theatrics, and the Chinese government has dismissed it as an “anti-society cult” with “tacky taste and low artistic standards,” but the show regularly sells out across the country. This year, as Shen Yun prepares for a six-week run in Southern California in May, it is coming under scrutiny for its close association with the Epoch Times, a fiercely pro-Trump conspiracy website recently mired in scandal for its ties to a massive network of fraudulent Facebook accounts.

    Both Shen Yun and Epoch Times are funded and operated by members of Falun Gong, a controversial spiritual group that was banned by China’s government in 1999. Less a religion than a spiritual doctrine, Falun Gong melds traditional Taoist principles with occasionally bizarre pronouncements from its Chinese-born founder and leader, Li Hongzhi. Among other pronouncements, Li has claimed that aliens started invading human minds in the beginning of the 20th century, leading to mass corruption and the invention of computers. He has also denounced feminism and ****sexuality and claimed he can walk through walls and levitate. But the central tenet of the group’s wide-ranging belief system is its fierce opposition to communism.

    In 2000, Li founded Epoch Times to disseminate Falun Gong talking points to American readers. Six years later he launched Shen Yun as another vehicle to promote his teachings to mainstream Western audiences. Over the years Shen Yun and Epoch Times, while nominally separate organizations, have operated in tandem in Falun Gong’s ongoing PR campaign against the Chinese government, taking directions from Li.


    Members of Falun Gong sat in silent protest outside the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles
    PHOTO BY KEIPHER MCKENNIE/GETTY IMAGES)

    Despite its conservative agenda, Epoch Times took pains until recently to avoid wading into partisan U.S. politics. That all changed in June 2015 after Donald Trump descended on a golden escalator to announce his presidential candidacy, proclaiming that he “beat China all the time.” In Trump, Falun Gong saw more than just an ally—it saw a savior. As a former Epoch Times editor told NBC News, the group’s leaders “believe that Trump was sent by heaven to destroy the communist party.”

    Relatively unknown before 2016, Epoch Times enjoyed a surge in traffic after the presidential election thanks to stridently pro-Trump content. NBC News reported in 2017 that the site was drawing millions of visitors a year, more than The New York Times and CNN combined. But Falun Gong didn’t restrict its pro-Trump stance to the paper.
    Facebook revealed in December that Epoch Media Group, which publishes Epoch Times, had furtively pumped nearly $10 million in ads through a hidden network of fake accounts and pages. In the past few years it has produced more pro-Trump advertising than any other group, including the Trump campaign. The ads have promoted anti-impeachment sentiment, anticommunist propaganda, and conspiracy theories about Joe Biden and other opponents of the president.


    SHEN YUN ON YOUTUBE

    Though Shen Yun and Epoch Times both fall under Falun Gong’s umbrella, the parent organization’s politics haven’t seemed to have impacted the dance troupe’s bottom line. According to public filings, Shen Yun generated nearly $30 million in revenue in 2017, the most recent year for which records are available—a $7 million increase from the year before. But Shen Yun spends none of its own money on marketing. Instead it relies on a vast army of devout volunteers and donors who produce ads, buy billboards, and send out millions of mailers promoting the show.

    Among Falun Gong members there is an “expectation that all practitioners … basically put their lives on hold for the weeks or even months leading up to [Shen Yun’s shows],” a former member wrote in Medium. A San Francisco Chronicle story reported that from 2015 to 2017 Shen Yun-linked groups spent at least $39.3 million on advertising—a staggering amount for a nonprofit of its size. (For comparison, fashion house Guess spent $37.1 million worldwide in 2017.) While employing such massive resources to benefit a cultural exposition seems harmless, using the same apparatus to influence a presidential election is more problematic. Facebook removed over 600 accounts tied to Epoch Times, but by that point, the group’s 55 million Facebook followers had already been exposed to a flurry of misleading ads, antivaxxer talking points, and QAnon conspiracies.

    Now if only Facebook could do something about the billboards.
    If you live in a major metropolis, do you get inundated with Shen Yun propaganda? If so, where? And if you don't, have you ever seen these Shen Yun billboards? Here in the SF Bay Area, the ads are EVERYWHERE. They are worse than the Bloomberg presidential ads were a few weeks ago.
    Gene Ching
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  7. #1402
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeneChing View Post
    If you live in a major metropolis, do you get inundated with Shen Yun propaganda? If so, where? And if you don't, have you ever seen these Shen Yun billboards? Here in the SF Bay Area, the ads are EVERYWHERE. They are worse than the Bloomberg presidential ads were a few weeks ago.
    I get their stuff in the mail quite often, and I see their ads on TV a lot as well. The mailers go straight into the recycle bin.

    Falun Gong’s beliefs around Trump remind me of when I heard some Christian evangelicals equating Trump to Jesus Christ(!).

    If they believe that Trump was sent by Heaven to destroy the CCP, they’re going to be badly disappointed. He doesn’t have anywhere near the power nor the motivation. If I were a betting man, I’d say that the CCP will be around long after Trump has shuffled off this mortal coil, and it will probably outlive all of us. Do I like communism? No. But you must be a realist about these things.
    Last edited by Jimbo; 03-11-2020 at 09:33 AM.

  8. #1403
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    So will we see rigfhtwing extremists at Shen Yun shows?

    MAGA voters discovered a new home online. But it isn't what it seems.
    The fast-growing social network SafeChat has a "Star Wars" barlike atmosphere in which white nationalists mingle with Chinese dissidents. And there's plenty of conspiracy theories, too.

    A man finishes his vigil outside the Supreme Court in support of Donald Trump.
    Trump supporters have flocked to alternative social media networks, including SafeChat, a fast-growing platform known for its tolerance of MAGA content. | J. Scott Applewhite/AP

    By MARK SCOTT and TINA NGUYEN

    03/16/2021 04:30 AM EDT

    As former President Donald Trump’s supporters have flocked to alternative social media networks, many are turning to SafeChat, a fast-growing platform known for its tolerance of high-octane MAGA content.

    In the nine weeks since the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, SafeChat’s app has been downloaded more times than in all of 2020, quickly becoming a hotbed of conspiracy theories and disinformation that paints President Joe Biden’s new administration in the worst possible light.

    But the once-obscure social network, which touts its security protections and respect for free speech, is not just MAGA-friendly. It’s also a conduit that enables fringe groups attacking the Chinese Communist Party to speak directly to — and influence — Trump supporters, creating a "Star Wars" barlike atmosphere where AR-15 enthusiasts and a growing number of white nationalists can mingle with Chinese dissidents.

    According to a review of corporate records and online activity by POLITICO, SafeChat has close links to The Epoch Times, an English-language media outlet affiliated with Falun Gong, the Chinese spiritual movement known for its antagonism toward the Chinese Communist Party and described by critics as a “cult.”

    The Epoch Times saw its online readership grow fivefold, to 51 million monthly visitors to its website, during Trump’s time in the White House.

    It’s part of a growing network of Falun Gong-affiliated media outlets that is creating its own far-right social media pipeline — one that amplifies MAGA themes while promoting the agenda of groups dedicated to the ouster of the Chinese Communist Party.

    Founded in the early 1990s, the Falun Gong movement was banned by Beijing less than a decade later. It continues to criticize the Chinese government for religious persecution and unlawful restrictions on its supporters’ human rights. When Trump won the 2016 election, it latched on to his anti-Beijing message to promote far-right conspiracy theories and increasingly partisan attacks on anyone opposing the MAGA movement.

    By acting as an online conveyor belt of anti-Biden and pro-Trump disinformation, the network of Falun Gong-linked sites is playing a role in shaping the next generation of the MAGA narrative against the former president’s enemies, particularly on the issue of China.

    “There’s a concerted effort by anti-Chinese Communist Party voices to move right-wing voters and QAnon followers against China,” said Elise Thomas, an open-source analyst at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a think tank that tracks online extremism.

    “The fact that people associated with the Falun Gong are trying to use SafeChat to tap into the MAGA-sphere is definitely concerning,” said Thomas, who has charted the rise of Falun Gong-related digital activity.

    SafeChat had been bubbling along in online obscurity for much of 2020. But after the November election, the platform began to gain traction with Falun Gong social media influencers who promoted it hard to their followers as an alternative to mainstream social media networks — popularity that picked up exponentially after the Capitol riot.

    “Many people say SafeChat is very good. I quickly got over 4K followers there,” Jennifer Zeng, a former Epoch Times journalist, told her more than 150,000 Twitter followers on Jan. 22.

    The app also began to attract notice as Trump’s most ardent supporters began turning away from mainstream social media. Online users in pro-Trump Facebook groups, for instance, urged their followers to ditch the Big Tech behemoth for the upstart platform. SafeChat emerged as a welcome alternative that offered a steady stream of conservative content featuring accusations of voter fraud, support for Trump during his recent impeachment trial and harsh criticism of the new administration.

    Last month, its website received almost 900,000 visitors — a fourfold increase compared with December, according to SimilarWeb, a web traffic analytics firm. By comparison, the website for Parler, one of the most popular MAGA platforms, was getting roughly 10 million monthly visitors before it was shut down in February.


    The logo of the social media platform Parler is displayed in Berlin, Jan. 10, 2021. | Christophe Gateau/dpa via AP

    Until the Jan. 6 riot, the majority of the platform’s visitors came from Vietnam and Hong Kong, countries long associated with the Falun Gong movement. But now, the United States represents more than a fifth of SafeChat’s online activity — a triple-digit monthly growth spike — exceeded only by traffic originating from Vietnam, based on SimilarWeb data.

    SafeChat does not publicly acknowledge any connections to the Epoch Times or Falun Gong on its app and declined to comment on a series of questions from POLITICO about its ties to them.

    “SafeChat is a neutral and safe platform for people to get information so that they can make their own decisions,” the company said in a statement.

    The Epoch Times also told POLITICO it had no association with the SafeChat platform, nor any involvement in how its content was promoted on the platform.

    But SafeChat was originally rebranded from an older social media platform, known as DV Chat, by Trung Vu, a former chief executive at The Epoch Times’ Vietnam, which was also registered at the same California address, according to a review of the state’s corporate records. Vu registered the company, but the ownership of SafeChat is unclear.

    In January 2020, DV Chat changed the company’s name to SafeChat and named a new chief executive, Matthew Tullar. Like Vu, Tullar had worked for The Epoch Times over a four-year period through 2016, based on his LinkedIn profile. Tullar later served as marketing director for another Falun Gong-affiliated media outlet, The BL, for whom he hosted an online talk show that put out a steady stream of pro-Trump opinions.

    One month later, in February 2020, SafeChat got a new chief executive: Patrick Mauler, who, like Vu, worked for New Tang Dynasty — an online video outlet with close ties to Falun Gong.

    Several high-profile personalities on the SafeChat platform also previously worked for The Epoch Times, which is one of the biggest and most strident pro-Trump outlets in far-right media.
    continued next post
    Gene Ching
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  9. #1404
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    continued from previous post

    Seth Holehouse, who spent seven years at The Epoch Times before leaving in late 2015, has amassed more than 18,000 followers on his SafeChat channel.

    Late last year, he gained online stardom after Trump tweeted videos in which Holehouse alleged widespread voter fraud. He has used his newfound fame to pump out videos from his SafeChat account accusing Biden of being in Beijing’s pocket and promoting Trump’s exoneration at his second impeachment trial.

    In a video published on Jan. 12, Holehouse told his followers on YouTube to download SafeChat. He touted its “military-grade encryption” technology, commitment to pro-MAGA free speech and independent servers that would prevent it from being removed from Google and Apple’s app stores.

    “SafeChat is a much more robust app. It’s almost as if you were to think of combining Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and a little bit of YouTube,” he said in the video.

    When reached for comment, Holehouse did not answer questions about his involvement or ties to The Epoch Times.

    The fledgling network is not alone in wooing conservative voters. Other online social media networks and encrypted message boards — most notably Parler, the pro-Trump platform that was shut down soon after the Capitol riot — have quickly gained hundreds of thousands of new users in search of an online home amid recriminations that Facebook, Google and Twitter censor right-wing voices.

    Yet few of the platforms have the financial muscle and wide reach of The Epoch Times. Riding the MAGA wave during the Trump era, the organization captured a massive social media following and gained entry into mainstream conservative political circles.

    “It makes perfect sense for a high demand group in bed with Big Data to build a content pipeline,” added Sarah Hightower, an independent researcher focusing on Asian cults, upon reviewing SafeChat’s content. “Even on the business end, groups like Falun Gong are still incredibly controlling.”

    SafeChat’s growing popularity within the MAGA ecosystem is rooted in the perception that it is a safe space for the former president’s supporters.

    To entice new users to SafeChat’s still-nascent platform — its monthly app downloads still number fewer than 70,000, according to AppFigures, a company that tracks such metrics — the social network has trumpeted its security bona fides, promoting its encryption technology to MAGA supporters to keep their online discussions private.

    Yet the platform’s privacy policy says SafeChat’s encryption applies to only video and voice calls between two people on its platform. For everything else, including political conversations in its much more popular public channels, the company collects reams of information on its users. That includes the content of people’s posts, individuals’ locations and even the keystrokes from specific smartphones.

    Such data collection — particularly information taken from individual messages — would not be possible if the platform had wide-ranging so-called end-to-end encryption, according to Bruce Schneier, a cybersecurity expert at the Harvard Kennedy School.

    “On pretty much everything on this site, they can read what you’re writing,” he said. “The word encryption is not some legally binding term.”

    SafeChat declined to answer questions about its encryption technology.

    The social network has also created unofficial pages on its network for other pro-Trump conservative outlets — like Breitbart News, Newsmax and One America News Network — that advance the impression that it’s a MAGA safe space.

    The dedicated SafeChat channels pump out daily content from those outlets, though making it clear they are not officially connected to them.

    It is unclear why SafeChat is building these landing pages for right-wing outlets, while not including similar pages for mainstream news organizations. Disinformation experts, some of whom have an expertise in social media, suggested it could be either to portray the chat app as larger than it currently is, or to woo other right-wing media outlets into establishing an official presence on the platform.

    “It could be strategic or opportunistic,” said Thomas, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue analyst, referring to the possible motivation.

    That courtship might be working. The Gateway Pundit, the conservative site known for spreading hoaxes, took over its own unofficial channel on Feb. 1, quickly amassing thousands of followers and in turn promoting the network to its wider audience.

    The Gateway Pundit did not respond to a request for comment.

    In the waning months of the Trump administration, The Epoch Times and other Falun Gong-outlets tried to build credibility with the mainstream conservative movement, through its support for Trump and its focus on a common enemy: the Chinese Communist Party.

    That includes promoting similarly baseless claims as other MAGA outlets, like accusations that Barack Obama’s administration spied on Trump’s 2016 election campaign, as well as cheerleading the former president’s staunch anti-Beijing stance.

    “If the D.C. establishment and Democratic campaigns apparatus doesn’t really think about this and internalize what this means, they’re going to be blindsided by this boomerang of misinformation in the next election cycle,” said Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters for America, a left-leaning watchdog group that has tracked the growth of The Epoch Times.

    “It shouldn’t be merely dismissed as the fringe and irrelevant,” he added, in reference to SafeChat. “Time and again, too many have been too slow to acknowledge the early warnings and implement strategies to stay ahead of emerging threats. SafeChat is yet another canary in the coal mine setting off those early alarm bells.”

    Despite its fast growth, it’s still unclear whether SafeChat will be able to break out of the pack of similar pro-Trump social networks that have gained traction in recent weeks.

    Reviews on both Apple and Google’s app stores for the platform specifically cite it as a viable alternative to Parler and Gab.com, a site primarily known for hosting white supremacists and other racist material.

    “[So] many coming online from Facebook, GAB is down more than it is online, hope that changes soon,” one reviewer noted on the Apple App Store on Jan. 18. “SafeChat works flawlessly and love how it is set up and the secure chat is much needed in this time of the Marxist takeover of America.”

    A recent review of best-performing SafeChat posts highlighted how the platform is succeeding in delivering the red meat that MAGA followers hunger for: video clips of Trump talking to Newsmax, former football star Herschel Walker dismissing efforts at financial reparations for African Americans, and claims that Biden was about to overturn the Second Amendment.

    An online discussion, posted on Feb. 14, about how Trump supporters were showering the former president with praise, garnered more than a thousand combined likes, shares and comments. Others promoted disinformation that Hillary Clinton and Vice President Kamala Harris could face impeachment; another claimed that the Capitol Hill riot was a hoax.

    Yet in recent weeks, downloads for SafeChat’s app have slowed from skyrocketing growth last month, based on AppFigure’s data.

    Other alternatives like TheDonald.win, an online message board where far-right rioters planned some of their attacks during the Jan. 6 riot, have descended into internal bickering as MAGA groups splinter over how best to take the movement forward.

    So far, SafeChat appears to be avoiding that. But on its darker edges, overt threats of violence are not uncommon. An Epoch Times story — posted on the outlet’s unofficial SafeChat channel with almost 15,000 followers — about how Republicans who had voted to convict Trump in his impeachment trial were facing a conservative backlash, generated hundreds of comments.

    Most were likes and shares, but there were also calls to attack these lawmakers.

    “Dirty rotten *******s,” said an online commentator when discussing The Epoch Times story. “Hang ‘em high for betrayal and sedition.”
    Is it called Anticom just like Antifa?
    Gene Ching
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  10. #1405
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    Marco Rubio

    Rubio Pays Tribute to Falun Gong Movement
    JUL 20 2021
    Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement in commemoration of the fallen victims of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, who have been brutally targeted by the Chinese Communist Party since July 20, 1999. Falun Gong is a spiritual movement based on the teachings of its founder, Li Hongzhi, and traditional Chinese meditative practices called qigong.

    Rubio is a senior member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

    “As we mark the 22nd anniversary of the beginning of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) brutal crackdown against the Falun Gong spiritual movement, I honor the lives of the hundreds of thousands, perhaps more than a million, innocent Chinese who have been targeted because of their spiritual beliefs. The CCP has detained Falun Gong practitioners, and in some cases, multiple times, in “transformation-through-reeducation” centers – a preview of the ongoing mass internment and acts of genocide against Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang. CCP officials have subjected Falun Gong practitioners to physical and sexual assault, forced labor, and torture to make them renounce their beliefs. Even more disturbing are the credible allegations of forced organ harvesting.

    “Unfortunately, the cruelty continues unabated to this day. For example, on April 23, 2021, security agents in Shandong province broke into the home of Zhou Deyong and detained him on the charge of “sabotaging the enforcement of laws by organizing and utilizing cult organizations.” Mr. Zhou was formally arrested on May 31 for possessing Falun Gong materials that belonged to his wife in the United States. In July 2016, security agents in Yuxi municipality in Yunnan province detained Deng Cuiping and four others for publicly distributing materials promoting Falun Gong. The Eshan County People's Court tried the five in February 2017, and sentenced Deng to 6 years in prison. Deng served 3 years in prison from 2006 to 2009 as a result of her practice of Falun Gong. Countless others have suffered for their belief in Falun Gong.”

    “I call on Beijing to stop undermining freedom of religion, and to once and for all end the ban on Falun Gong practice. The CCP must release all individuals and practitioners who are held in prisons and in various detention centers throughout China.”
    I wonder how much Rubio knows about Falun Gong.
    Gene Ching
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  11. #1406
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    "cultivate" in quotes

    Religious protections don’t apply to Falun Gong protest sites
    While not disputed that the group is persecuted by China's communist government, its reputation as a cult makes its bid for sympathy a complicated one.

    EMILEE LARKIN / October 14, 2021

    Exercises like this yoga practice qigong are considered a way for Falun Gong practitioners to "cultivate" themselves. (Image by Vô Vi from Pixabay via Courthouse News)
    MANHATTAN (CN) — Followers of a 30-year-old Chinese spiritual practice called Falun Gong cannot designate their protest sites as places of worship to silence counter-protesters, the Second Circuit ruled Thursday.

    “The record here shows that at most that there were only sporadic instances of worship at the tables,” the 28-page lead decision states. “Plaintiffs and their fellow practitioners instead understood the primary purpose of the tables as a site from which to disseminate information about the Chinese Communist Party’s treatment of Falun Gong.”

    Founded in China in 1992 by Li Hongzhi, Falun Gong does not have any temples, churches or religious ritual — the usual trappings of a religious group. Rather, as summarized by the Second Circuit, its followers believe that meditation and other forms of regular spiritual practice known as “cultivation” will allow them to “return” to their “True Sel[ves]” or “Primary Soul[s].”

    The Taiwan Cultural Center in Flushing, Queens, is a common gathering spot for Falun Gong cultivation, which includes physical exercises like qigong and the study of the “Zhuan Falun,” a book of Li’s lectures. For roughly a decade, leaders of the group assembled tables outside the cultural center to raise awareness about the torture Falun Gong adherents in China.

    Some of the posters depict organ harvesting. There is no meditation, but the Falun Gong insist that their tables should be treated as an extension of their faith. About six years ago, 13 individuals brought the underlying suit in Brooklyn, saying that a counter-protest group called the Chinese Anti-Cult Alliance harassed them in violation of a federal law called FACEA, short for the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.

    The alliance denies that it has ever been the aggressor in any of the protest scenes, and Thursday's ruling notes that the Falun Gong teachings that the alliance highlights as troubling are not in dispute: "Defendants object, for instance, to Falun Gong teachings that followers should not take medication for illness, that aliens have visited earth, and that the heavens are divided into racial zones and a person of a mixed racial background will 'go to the heaven that belongs to the race of
    his Main Spirit.'"

    A federal judge sided with the Falun Gong at summary judgment in 2018, but the Second Circuit reversed Thursday after finding that the Falun Gong practitioners passing out pamphlets in Queens is not entitled to protection under the law meant to protect women from being harassed while seeking abortion services.

    “At most, the evidence shows that the activity at the tables was motivated by teachings of the Falun Gong leader, akin to how Quaker groups may protest wars or Catholic groups may protest abortion laws in public streets motivated by their respective religious beliefs,” U.S. Circuit Judge Susan Carney wrote in Thursday's lead opinion. “But that such political and social action may be rooted in religious belief does not transform the public spaces where the action occurs into “places of religious worship.”

    Specifically, the religious section of the FACEA prohibits a person from intentionally injuring, intimidating, or interfering with another who is exercising her religion at a place of religious worship. In reaching its decision, the court dissected what can be considered a “place” of worship.

    U.S. Circuit Judge Pierre Leval, a Clinton appointee, concurred with Carney, an Obama appointee, in full, as did U.S. Circuit Judge John Walker, who also wrote a separate concurring opinion.

    “Although we have previously sustained the provision of FACEA that prohibits violence at abortion clinics, in part based on legislative findings that women, doctors, and medical supplies may travel interstate for reproductive health services, those findings were limited to regulating violence at abortion clinics,” said Walker, a George H. W. Bush appointee. “They have no bearing on whether violence against worshippers at places of religious worship substantially affects interstate commerce.”

    Reacting to the decision Wednesday, Elizabeth Hurd, a professor of political science and religious studies at Northwestern University, said that religious freedom hinges on what the law views as a religion.

    “Protecting a right to religious freedom in law requires defining what the state means by ‘religion’. There will always be groups left out of that definition, particularly when powerful actors, like the Chinese government, have a say in who gets protected as a religion and who does not,” Hurd said in an email. “This is a casualty of legalizing religious freedom. It is not surprising that Falun Gong would not be privy to these protections. The challenge, then, is to reconsider whether religious freedom is equipped as a legal construct to do the work we are asking it to do. I think not.”

    Led by Zhang Jingrong, the practitioners were represented by Terri Marsh with the Human Rights Law Foundation. The alliance was represented by Tom Fini of Cata***o Fini law firm. Neither party immediately responded to emails seeking comment.
    Meanwhile it's Shen Fun season here so my newsfeeds are inundated...
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  12. #1407
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    Shen Yun at the Kennedy Center?

    Shen Yun: The Falun Gong cult’s anti-communist propaganda roadshow
    February 11, 2022 12:21 PM CST BY J. HAHN AND MAX CHANDLER


    The Falun Gong (Falun Dafa) group presents itself as a persecuted spiritual organization, but it is an anti-human religious cult that embraces right-wing politics and operates a massive anti-communist business and propaganda empire. | Left: Shen Yun poster / Left: AP photos show the cult's 'Epoch Times' newspaper, a group of practitioners, and a Falun Gong protest against China.
    From February 15-20, 2022, Washington’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts will host a sensational retelling of China’s history spanning thousands of years. Shen Yun—the stunning production that has graced stages in a perpetual roadshow across North America since 2006—is returning to the U.S. capital.

    The advertising for this affair across 96 cities in America uses beautiful imagery: a woman leaping across a violet-hued field in a brilliantly colored dress beside the phrase “5,000 Years of Civilization Reborn.” This is the innocuous wording Shen Yun uses to showcase its ode to the glory of traditional Chinese civilization and culture. An attendee might, then, be a little taken aback by statements made in the performance that “atheism and evolution are deadly ideas.”

    In fact, one can expect to be inundated with a host of bizarre messages in a Shen Yun performance. This dance company, whose name roughly translates to “Divine Rhythm,” performs under the auspices of Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, a spiritual practice drawing on the Chinese Buddhist and Daoist traditions. Followers practice qigong, meditation, and moral philosophy with the aim of achieving spiritual enlightenment. Uniquely among qigong practices, however, this school incorporates apocalyptic and messianic elements centered around founder Li Hongzhi—a battle for human consciousness between the enlightened and space aliens (!) to be followed by an impending judgment day.


    Falun Gong leader Li Hongzhi in 1999 before his exile in the United States. | Kyodo News / AP
    While practitioners are instructed to be opaque about Li’s teaching with the uninitiated, what can be found about Falun Gong’s beliefs is a bit concerning. Li has claimed that alien life forms intend to displace humanity with clones and that scientific development is the result of alien interference. He has further claimed that race-mixing in humans is an alien plot to drive humanity further from God and that heaven is racially segregated. Li apparently so despises miscegenation that he has been recorded as saying: “When a child is born from an interracial marriage, that child does not have a heavenly kingdom to go to.”

    Among other regressive tendencies, anti-communism is a central tenet of Falun Gong. Shen Yun performances have regularly incorporated explicitly anti-communist and anti-Communist Party of China messaging. In 2019, Shen Yun’s performance even included an act in which “Chairman Mao appeared, and the sky turned black; the city in the digital backdrop was obliterated by an earthquake, then finished off by a Communist tsunami. A red hammer and sickle glowed in the center of the wave.”

    As Shen Yun so campily demonstrated, Falun Gong has a long and strained history with communism. Since being banned in China in 1999, the organization and its media outlets have lambasted the Communist Party there, claiming severe and unjust religious persecution, backed up with ample help from Western media until recent years.

    When Li began Falun Gong, he had only been practicing qigong for about a year, but riding a wave of increased popularity in qigong practice in the 1980s and 1990s, he was able to successfully build a brand. Since its founding, the group’s history has been a contentious one: “Conflict with the media has been central to Falun Gong almost since its inception, for it was not the Chinese government, but journalists, writers, scientists, and ex-members who first criticized Falun Gong. Li’s unscientific claims and professions of divine status invited skepticism, and by mid-1996 Chinese journalists began to publish critical articles about Falun Gong’s supernatural beliefs and Li’s egoism.”

    By the late 1990s, Falun Gong had grown massively, pushing a message of Li Hongzhi as mankind’s savior. In spite of this, the Communist Party of China still officially sought to keep peace with the organization. This changed in short order.

    At the height of Falun Gong’s influence in China, Li instructed followers to infiltrate the Communist Party. Part of his early strategy for recruitment appears to have been winning over state government leaders and currying favor with them. Meanwhile, the organization began escalating its attacks on Chinese media platforms critical of Li Hongzhi and his religion.

    These events escalated into the April 25, 1999, protest in which 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners surrounded the Communist Party headquarters in Zhongnanhai in Beijing and sat silently for 12 hours. By July that same year, the government had outlawed the group and detained many of its members.

    During this time, Li and Falun Gong began disseminating a horrifying narrative of the CPC’s persecution—mass imprisonment, torture, even organ harvesting, all over a peaceful protest. This narrative, of course, became a go-to story for demonstrating the terrors of communism.

    Xinhua, China’s main news agency, however, alleged that “Li had broken numerous laws, threatened public safety, was responsible for over 1,000 deaths (mainly from members committing suicide or not seeking medical treatment), and that members had infiltrated the Communist Party to overthrow the government.” Additionally, according to Dr. Heather Kavan, in an independent study on the credibility of media reporting about Falun Gong, “[the] research suggests that on the issues of Li and his role in the Zhongnanhai protest, why Falun Gong was banned, and its cult-like nature, Xinhua’s accounts are…generally more accurate than Western ones.”
    continued next post
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  13. #1408
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    Continued from previous post


    In this April 25, 1999 file photo, thousands of members of the Falun Gong cult sit in next to Beijing’s Zhongnanhai complex, the headquarters of the Communist Party of China. | Chien-min Chung / AP
    In the wake of the curbs on Falun Gong in China, Li fled to New York, where he began operating the 427-acre Dragon Springs compound, which is now the center of Falun Gong operations. Former believers paint a disturbing picture of daily life there: “tightly controlled by Li…internet access is restricted, the use of medicines is discouraged, and arranged relationships are common.”

    Li’s teaching on “the necessity of enduring physical hardship, harassing critics, and denigrating science in favor of his purportedly infallible truths” permeates the culture of the compound and the group’s doctrine. True to the form of a cult, Falun Gong’s members are expected to devote their lives to its message and “Master Li.” Practitioners are required to proselytize and cut off friends and family members who are not receptive to Falun Gong’s message. All of this creates a deeply insular environment where believers are subject to Li’s whims. One former member wrote that she “had grown up believing [Li] could read her mind and listen to her dangerous thoughts.”

    Members of Falun Gong are also expected to receive their news from Li’s approved media outlets, the largest of which is The Epoch Times newspaper, which regularly hosts regressive opinion pieces about the LGBTQ+ community and hawks anti-China sentiment.

    The outlet, almost entirely staffed by Falun Gong cultists, is known to traffic in right-wing conspiracy theories along the Trumpist line—coronavirus disinformation, claims that Hillary Clinton is a communist, and allegations of massive voter fraud in the 2020 U.S. election. This makes sense when one considers that Li Hongzhi reportedly stated Donald Trump had been “sent by heaven to destroy the Chinese Communist Party.” In fact, in 2020, Epoch Times spent $1.5 million on Facebook ads in just six months promoting Trump, before being banned from the platform.

    It seems, though, that Epoch Times’ current political agenda is a new phenomenon. According to a 2019 exposé by NBC News, “Before 2016, The Epoch Times generally stayed out of U.S. politics, unless they dovetailed with Chinese interests. The publication’s recent ad strategy, coupled with a broader campaign to embrace social media and conservative U.S. politics—Trump in particular—has doubled The Epoch Times’ revenue, according to the organization’s tax filings, and pushed it to greater prominence in the broader conservative media world.”


    Falun Gong’s ‘Epoch Times’ newspaper has made itself into a prominent voice for the far right in the United States. It regularly celebrated Trump when he was president and backed his Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him. | Epoch Times
    The outlet’s alliance with Donald Trump has certainly been profitable for Falun Gong. In 2017, The Epoch Times doubled its revenue from the previous year to $8.1 million, right around the time that it expanded its online presence and started pushing an aggressive pro-Trump agenda. “Though the source of their revenue is unclear, the most recent financial records from each organization paint a picture of an overall business thriving in the Trump era,” NBC reported.

    Beyond the simple bottom line motive that has so enriched Falun Gong in the last few years, Li’s alliance with the far-right elements of U.S. politics serves the organization’s anti-communist purpose. Trump’s escalation of tensions with China was something of a godsend to a group that had been advocating stringent measures against the country for years.

    Falun Gong has made no secret of its goal to destroy the Communist Party of China. This agenda is central to most of their operations, not least of which is Shen Yun. In 2021, the dance company adopted the tagline “China Before Communism.” But what would Falun Gong have China return to?

    Before the revolution of 1949, Western and Japanese imperialists had been attacking China steadily since the 1800s, resulting in mass casualties and increased drug trafficking. The fall of the Qing dynasty caused increased political instability, which prevented the Kuomintang central government from operating effectively. Beginning in the late 1920s, Japan began a campaign of intrigue and harassment of China that eventually led to outright invasion and occupation of 25% of China’s territory and control over 33% of its population. This invasion and occupation resulted in numerous atrocities that cost the lives of millions of Chinese. It was the Communist Party of China, in alliance with the Kuomintang in a United Front, that was able to eventually drive out imperialist invaders.

    When the Communist Party rose to power in China after the war, quality of life markers increased significantly. This was especially the case in recent decades. A Stanford University-published article from 2015 noted that “between 1950 and 1980, China experienced the most rapid sustained increase in life expectancy of any population in documented global history…gains in school enrollment and public health campaigns together are associated with 55-70 percent of China’s dramatic reductions in infant and under-5 mortality….”

    In roughly the same period, total food production in China rose 170%, and China’s population grew by 78%. This is all in spite of the infamous famines of 1958-62. The Communist Party put into motion changes that would lead to the elimination of famine in China, a previously unthinkable historical development.


    Li-Town: The Falun Gong Dragon Springs compound in Otisville, N.Y., where founder Li Hongzhi rules. | Julie Jacobson / AP
    Citizens of China today enjoy a life expectancy of around 77, which has risen steadily since 2009. Additionally, the average Chinese citizen has access to healthcare on a scale unavailable to citizens in the U.S., food security, and earlier retirement ages. Considering that Li Hongzhi lives in a palace and exerts authority over his devoted followers like a feudal lord, it makes a little more sense that he would advocate for a reactionary “return” to the China that existed before socialism.

    Shen Yun, a striking display of Falun Gong’s propaganda and the reach of its influence in North America dramatizes historical and mythical events in Chinese history. This is not exactly a representation of the reality of daily life for the average person in China at any time in its extensive history. And while Shen Yun seems to uphold itself as an arbiter of Chinese culture, the performances focus more on conveying Falun Gong’s political agenda.

    So why are the Kennedy Center and other event venues around the continent allowing themselves to be a platform for this regressive and dangerous cult? Do these cultural institutions really want to associate themselves with an organization whose leader opposes interracial relationships, ****sexuality, and modern medicine? The Kennedy Center—and any other venue that gets a knock from Shen Yun at its door—should drop the act and put to bed this divisive culture war propaganda.
    Has anyone here seen Shen Yun?
    Gene Ching
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  14. #1409
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    I am not a fan of the political falungong and their enterprises as they attempt to usurp a status quo that is self evident.
    Now I know why they were censured as they were! Their grasp on reality is fanatical and their communication tools smack of 'right wing" propaganda when they report on world events.

    NO! I would not go to see the Shen Yun troupe even if they paid me. No doubt I could change my mind as they are nauseating on all bases!

  15. #1410
    Quote Originally Posted by GeneChing View Post
    Has anyone here seen Shen Yun?
    Once, many years ago. The artists were good but it was awkward being a captive-audience to the politics between each performance!

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