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Thread: Busted Qigong Masters

  1. #46
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    Zhonggong

    Zhonggong: The “Cult” That Refused to Die
    12/16/2020 MASSIMO INTROVIGNE
    Hundreds of police hunt for a new incarnation of a group the CCP believed it had successfully eradicated in 2016.
    by Massimo Introvigne


    A devotional image of the current leader of Zhonggong’s largest branch, Zhang Xiao, with its deceased founder Zhang Hongbao sitting in the sky.
    In the Northern province of Heilongjiang, hundreds of police officers surround and arrest in the early morning citizens gathering in public parks for Qigong exercises supposed to prevent the COVID-19 infection. This is happening in ten different provinces, although Heilongjiang appears to be specifically targeted, and involves hundreds of specialized agents. They are fighting a xie jiao, a banned religious movement, known as Zhonggong. The only problem is that, according to earlier CCP sources, Zhonggong should no longer exist. It has been liquidated several years ago, and totally eradicated by 2016, one of the few “success stories” the specialized agents tell about their long-lasting fight against the xie jiao.

    However, it appears that even this “success” was not definitive. To understand what happened, a short history of Zhonggong is needed. Zhang Hongbao (1954–2006) was born in Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang, on January 5, 1954. While the organization he founded is labeled by the CCP as a xie jiao,and his theory “an anti-social, anti-scientific heretical system based on idealism and theism,” the part of the story the Party does not tell is that Zhang was himself a respected member of the CCP.

    A high school teacher in Harbin, Zhang was sent by the Party in 1985 to Beijing to obtain a college degree. He did not complete his academic education, but attended the Chinese Qigong Further Education Academy and became an accomplished teacher of Qigong. This was before the Falun Gong incident of 1999, when Qigong was perceived with sympathy by the CCP. Since he was studying mechanical engineering, Zhang built a system of Qigong where an engineering jargon and theories of automation co-existed with ancient Chinese martial art, diet, and healing techniques. According to David Palmer, a scholar who had studied in depth the origins of the movement, he called it “Chinese Qigong for Nourishing Life and Increasing Intelligence” (Zhonghua yangsheng yizhi gong, 中华养生益智功), or, in short, Zhonggong (中功).

    Just as it happened with Falun Gong in its early years, Zhonggong was not received with hostility by the CCP. On the contrary, starting in 1987, Zhang offered seminars inter alia at Beijing University, the China Academy of Sciences, the Central Party School of the CCP, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Justice, and the China Academy of Social Sciences. These events were favorably covered by the Party’s People’s Daily. According to Palmer, at least one minister and one deputy minister participated. A hagiographic biography of Zhang written by Ji Yi sold ten million copies. Zhang himself claimed that Zhonggong had 38 million followers.

    Just as it happened to Falun Gong, Zhonggong was a victim of its own success, particularly of its success among high CCP cadres. The Party started perceiving Zhonggong as a potential rival. And when in 1999 Falun Gong organized a demonstration in the Zhongnanhai area in Beijing, where the CCP senior political leaders live, the incident not only sealed its fate but persuaded the Party that the time had come to liquidate all Qigong independent organizations. This, as scholar Ed Irons reported in an article in The Journal of CESNUR, also involved Zhonggong. While Zhang was well connected, and vowed to resist by hiring the best CCP lawyers, he understood that his days as a free man in China were numbered when he was told that some twenty women were ready to testify they had been raped or sexually molested by him (a frequent charge against xie jiao leaders in China). In December 1999, Zhonggong’s considerable assets were confiscated.


    Zhang Xiao lectures in front of a portrait of Zhang Hongbao.
    Zhang escaped via Guam in 2000 to the United States, where he failed to obtain full political asylum but was granted Protected Person Status in 2001. He became increasingly involved in militant anti-Communist activities, and even president of a Chinese government in exile, which led to quarrels and lawsuits with other Chinese dissidents living in the United States. Zhang died on July 31, 2006 at the age of 52, when his car collided with a large truck on the Arizona highway. His followers suspected foul play, and accusations of a Chinese conspiracy to kill Zhang were mostly relayed by the Falun Gong-connected Epoch Times.

    After Zhang’s death, the authorities believed that the crackdown on Zhonggong initiated in 1999 had almost destroyed the movement, although some smaller branches remained. Great Buddha Qigong, founded by Zhang’s biographer Ji Yi in 1995 after he had left Zhonggong in 1994, was reduced to a small group. The authorities were more concerned with a branch called Maitreya Buddha Tao, founded in Shandong by Zhonggong leader Li Changlu, but by 2016 announced that it had been liquidated too, with its main leaders arrested and sentenced.

    However, Zhang’s secretary, a woman called Zhang Xiao, born On October 4, 1966 in Longyan, in Fujian Province, kept Zhonggong alive overseas, and eventually moved the headquarters from the United States to Japan. Patiently, she reorganized a clandestine network in China, using several different names for the movement, including “Tianhua Culture,” “Oriental Health Cultivation Method,” and “Oriental Bigu Health Cultivation Method” (bigu is a Daoist diet and fasting technique, based on avoiding cereals).

    With COVID-19, Zhang Xiao launched a set of anti-COVID Qigong exercises, which became quite successful. The CCP had discovered before that the network of her followers in China was far from being small. Originally believed to operate mostly through the Internet, in fact Zhang Xiao’s incarnation of Zhonggong has local centers in several provinces, the largest in Heilongjiang. According to the police, one was hidden in a massage parlor in Fuyuan, Heilongjiang. The city sits on the southern bank of the Amur river, and on the northern bank is Russia. Russian clients cross the border and liberally patronize the massage parlors in Fuyuan, but this one attracted the attention of the authorities because the masseuses were, unusually, old women. In fact, rather than massages, they were selling teachings on Zhonggong and artifacts blessed by Zhang Xiao.


    Zhonggong material seized at the raided massage parlor in Fuyuan. Source: Xi’an Public Security Bureau.
    Massages or not, the CCP had to admit that Zhonggong had not been eradicated, and Zhang Xiao’s organization is alive and well in China. This year, China issued an Interpol Red Notice to arrest Zhang Xiao in Japan, and extradite her to China. Normally, these requests fail, but one never knows what kind of political and other pressures China may now exert.


    Interpol Red Notice against Zhang Xiao, issued upon China’s request. Source: Xi’an Public Security Bureau


    Massimo Introvigne
    Massimo Introvigne (born June 14, 1955 in Rome) is an Italian sociologist of religions. He is the founder and managing director of the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR), an international network of scholars who study new religious movements. Introvigne is the author of some 70 books and more than 100 articles in the field of sociology of religion. He was the main author of the Enciclopedia delle religioni in Italia (Encyclopedia of Religions in Italy). He is a member of the editorial board for the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion and of the executive board of University of California Press’ Nova Religio. From January 5 to December 31, 2011, he has served as the “Representative on combating racism, xenophobia and discrimination, with a special focus on discrimination against Christians and members of other religions” of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). From 2012 to 2015 he served as chairperson of the Observatory of Religious Liberty, instituted by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to monitor problems of religious liberty on a worldwide scale.
    More on Zhang Hongbao here and here
    Gene Ching
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  2. #47
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    Wang Xingfu

    CHINA / SOCIETY
    Fake ‘Living Buddhas’ end up behind bars for using Tibetan Buddhism to amass wealth, rape disciple
    By Gao Lei
    Published: Feb 02, 2021 09:40 AM


    Wang Xingfu disguises himself as a living buddha. Photo: file picture

    Over the years, with the popularity of Tibetan Buddhism, many people including some television celebrities have been worshiping "Living Buddhas." Seeing profits in this, some lawbreakers made use of people's devotion to the religion to amass large amounts of money and even rape their disciples.

    The Global Times dug out how two fake Living Buddhas used religion to harm their disciples.

    Prison guard-turned 'living buddha'

    Wang Xingfu, who claimed himself a "Living Buddha" and used the name of Lhosang Tenzin, swindled hundreds of millions of dollars and even raped several women over the past decades.

    Wang had 21 "Ashrams" and more than 3,000 "disciples" across China. Before proclaiming himself as a "Living Buddha," Wang dubbed himself a "qigong master" in late 1980s when the country was caught up in a "qigong frenzy."

    Like many other fake qigong masters, Wang profited from the wave. He embezzled the Tibetan Buddhism and fabricated a so-called "secret school of mind recharge."

    Then he set up classes in cities including Ji'nan, Chengdu and Shenyang, earning more than 5,000 yuan ($773) or even as much as 7,000 yuan a month, a high income in the late 1980s and early 1990s in China.

    Seeing the profits, Wang who was a prison guard at that time, had no interest in his work and kept asking for leave until he was fired. In the middle and late 1990s, as the government cracked down on the fraudulent "qigong masters," Wang changed his "secret school of mind recharge" to "ancient yoga theory application research institute," and developed a so-called "supreme secret yoga" to cheat money from disciples.

    In 2006, Wang got to know the a Living Buddha named Gongzhi in Eruo Monastery, Ganzi Prefecture, Southwest China's Sichuan Province. Gongzhi was well known there and at that time he was seriously ill.

    Wang, who was desperate to "legitimize" his schemes by using Tibetan Buddhism, tried hard to curry favor with Gongzhi. He took his "disciples" to donate money and goods worth over 1 million yuan to Gongzhi's temple. He then also claimed to have studied Buddhism in temples for many years and is the reincarnation of a "Living Buddha."

    As a result, Gongzhi took Wang as his only disciple outside the Tibetan regions and told his disciple, Lurong, who would take over as the abbot of Eruo Monastery, to be good to Wang.

    Lurong at the beginning did not welcome Wang but his attitude changed when he saw Wang was able to support the temple.

    In 2008, Lurong illegally held an "enthronement ceremony" for Wang and claimed Wang as a Living Buddha named Lhosang Tenzin and even gave him a fake ID card showing Wang as Tibetan. Wang even fabricated a "reincarnation system" for himself.

    In 2016, Wang divorced with his wife. When the case was exposed, Lurong was asked by the police why he illegally hosted "enthronement" for Wang and forged him as a "Living Buddha." Lurong said that Wang had many disciples and could donate money and goods to the temple.

    After being arrested, Wang also attacked Lurong whom he used to call "vajra brother," saying Lurong treated him as a money machine and he felt deep "regret."


    Wang Xingfu's villa in Xiamen, East China's Fujian Province. Photo: file picture

    'Religious teaching' for money

    After becoming the "Living Buddha Lhosang Tenzin" following his "enthronement" in 2008, Wang became even more unscrupulous and committed many heinous crimes on his followers, such as fraud, molestation and even rape.

    Before his crimes were uncovered, many of his followers, who had been seriously harassed by him, did not consider themselves victims of Wang's crimes, and some even chose to defend him.

    One of his followers surnamed Wei said Wang controlled his disciples' mind in a horrific manner - he made the disciples swear not to betray him, otherwise, they would suffer terrible retribution and even lose their lives.

    Laxianjia, vice director of the religious institute of the China Tibetology Research Center, said Tibetan Buddhism has "Exotoric Buddhism" and "Esoteric Buddhism." A disciple usually needs to spend more than 20 years in the period of "Exotoric Buddhism" with his or her master. During this period, the disciple can question and even change masters. But once the disciple passes "Exotoric Buddhism" stage to "Esoteric Buddhism," the disciple must fully follow the teachings of the master whom he or she had identified during the "Exotoric Buddhism" stage.

    Laxianjia believed Wang used the close relations between disciple and master in the "Esoteric Buddhism" stage to make his disciples willing to be controlled. Laxianjia said Wang actually knew nothing about Buddhism, after questing Wang when he was in detention.

    One of his disciples said that most of Wang's disciples were in urgent need of consolation of the faith due to their own or family troubles and Wang is good at using some concepts in Buddhism to appease these people.

    Some had doubts about Wang, but their doubts were relieved when they saw how Lurong received Wang in the monastery.

    According to the police investigation, the main way Wang cheated money was to charge people for his teachings. The money varied from 300 yuan to 8,000 yuan. He also sold "religious instruments" and carried out "religious activities" to make money. He made nearly 200 million yuan in more than 10 years.

    Wang spent the money buying houses and properties across the country and gave his wife and son money. Wang said he gave Lurong more than 40 million yuan.

    Besides fraud, Wang even used the concept of "Yuganaddha" to molest and rape female disciples.

    Laxianjia said that the "Yuganaddha" in Tibetan Buddhism is about the combination of "wisdom" and "methods" rather than the nonsense that Wang talked about.

    When he was arrested, police found condoms and "oil" that can boost sexual drive. He claimed the disciples he raped had consented.

    Some of his disciples who had sex with him said Wang called them to the room for sex.

    One of the women who was raped by him in 2013 said Wang came to the hotel in casual clothes after she checked in at his request. After she kowtowed to Wang and told him her family's problems and asked for his blessings, Wang became impatient and said the disciple needs to offer the master the body and mind. Wang later peeled off her clothes.

    "I knew what he wanted to do then. I was quite scared. But as I thought he was a Living Buddha, and I was afraid that if I rebelled against him, there would be retribution. I didn't dare to resist. I just knelt down and cried and kowtowed to him," she said.

    So far, investigators have evidence that Wang has sexually assaulted at least 10 female "disciples" over the years, including eight who were raped and two who were indecently assaulted.

    A police officer told the Global Times that due to the reluctance of most victims of sexual assault cases to come forward, and the long time span of Wang's crimes, the number of women raped by Wang may be far higher.


    Cash and foreign banknotes are found by the police from Wang's residence. Photo: file picture
    continued next post
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  3. #48
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    continued from previous post


    Cash and foreign banknotes are found by the police from Wang's residence. Photo: file picture

    A key accomplice

    Wang would not have had the opportunity to commit such heinous crimes if it weren't for Lurong, the abbot at Eruo Monastery.

    Lurong, through stealing and violating the traditional convention of Tibetan Buddhism, turned Wang, a liar from qigong, into a "living buddha" and helped Wang deceive a huge number of believers in the country.

    Lurong has known of Wang's crime as early as 2016, when a woman follower of Wang reported his sexually assaulting women and looting money. But Wang reminded Lurong about how the Eruo Monastery had been depending on Wang's followers' sponsorship.

    To not lose Wang as a "money machine," Lurong became Wang's accomplice. He not only published an "investigation report" to prove Wang did not have any problem, but also hired people to remove online posts reporting Wang.

    All the punishment Lurong gave Wang was letting him confess in front of the sacred tower and warning him to be a "qualified monk."

    "I felt he wanted to use my money to renovate the monastery in order to lift his prestige among locals," Wang said.

    From the perspective of Tibetan Buddhism, Lurong's behavior is also a serious violation of Buddhism, said Zhou Wei, an expert on Tibetology. "It completely violated the philosophy of Tibetan Buddhism and the concept of "integrity" in religion. It is all crooked ways."

    This is also the reason why the two were prosecuted for "organizing and using a cult to undermine the implementation of the law." Their behavior deviated from Tibetan Buddhism and has long become a "cult."


    Wang Xingfu during an illegal "enthronement" in 2008 which seriously violated Tibetan Buddhism rituals. Photo: file picture

    Another monster

    Apart from Wang's case, police also cracked down a fake living buddha case as appalling as Wang's in Shenzhen of South China's Guangdong Province.

    Yang Hongchen, the main suspect in the Shenzhen case, was born in Northeast China and became a monk in a small Hongye Temple in North China's Hebei Province in the late 1990s.

    Afterwards, he went to Labrong Monastery in Northwest China's Gansu Province and fabricated a "living buddha" certificate and an ID as a Tibetan. With the new identity, he returned to Hongye Temple and began to deceive people there.

    To bamboozle more people, he claimed himself to be the former head of the Chinese Buddhism Association and the reincarnation of respected patriotic monk Sherab Gyatso.

    Many victims in Yang's case said that believed Yang's story. But monks in Labrang said Yang was never a monk in the monastery, let alone a living buddha. People from Yang's hometown said Yang wasn't even a monk.

    Before 2017, Yang already had dozens of believers. He also raped many of his female followers and caused one to get pregnant.

    Under the mind control of Yang, the violated women were either afraid of being cursed by the "living buddha" or believed it was for religious progress. None of the women chose to report Yang's assaults.

    Finally, Yang's hedonistic life style drew suspicion from a follower, who reported to the religious administration department in Shenzhen.

    The fair trial

    In the past three years, the relevant persons involved in the Wang, Lurong and Yang cases have been convicted of serious crimes by the court in the first trial, and completed the second trial this year.

    Wang was sentenced to 25 years in prison and fined 20 million yuan for crimes of organizing and utilizing a cult to undermine laws, illegal operation, rape and compulsory indecency. Lurong was sentenced to six years imprisonment and fined 5 million yuan.

    Yang was put in jail for 18 years and fined 150,000 yuan for using superstition to undermine law enforcement, fraud, rape and embezzlement. He pleaded not guilty in both court trials and blamed his followers.

    Police believe that such scams are still hidden in society, and because some victims are mentally controlled, it greatly increases the difficulty of investigations.

    To identify such criminals, Li Hanying, former senior official on religious affairs at the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, reminded that the public can check the identity of a "living buddha" at an online query system of the State Administration of Religious Affairs or check with local religious departments.

    Li noted that Buddhism is a religion of rationality and wisdom and believers should not blindly obey someone because of admiration. Therefore, everyone must establish this concept of "right faith" and improve the quality of faith and the ability to differentiate between good and evil.

    Once a suspicious "living buddha" is discovered, it is even more important to quickly report him to the religious affairs department and public security organs, Li said.

    These cases also have triggered thinking of related departments on how to strengthen supervision, stop such frauds in the name of religions, and upgrade publicity on such crimes.

    Laxianjia suggested that schools could open some courses on common sense about religions. "It is not to spread religions on campus, but to tell people the essence and knowledge of religions and lead people to have the correct values to avoid being deceived."

    Lurong and some Tibetan monks served as accomplices and violated the reputation of Tibetan Buddhism, which experts believe shows Buddhist monks should strictly maintain their reputation and rituals of Tibetan Buddhism and discipline themselves, and therefore safeguard and respect for the freedom of religions in China.
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  4. #49
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    Wang Lin: Qigong “Master” a Conjurer of Cheap Tricks?

    Tough when you make a spelling error in your title.

    Wang Li: Qigong “Master” a Conjurer of Cheap Tricks?
    The famous Chinese qigong practitioner has been accused of being a charlatan.

    By Jonathan DeHart
    July 31, 2013
    Two documentaries aired on China’s state-run CCTV on Sunday calling Wang Lin a “vulgar magician” who has done little more than sell bogus health techniques to the Chinese masses – not to mention some of its elite.

    The qigong (Taoist breathing exercises meant to cultivate energy) spiritualist and advisor has fallen on hard times since the investigative reports played on television sets across the nation and has since come under investigation for fraud. The Jiangxi province-born “master” is reportedly attempting to evade scrutiny by disappearing from sight – some say by fleeing to Hong Kong.

    Wang’s fall from grace has become a major topic of discussion in China, given his celebrity clientele, which included some of China’s most prominent entertainment, business luminaries – even heads of state – from Jackie Chan and Jet Li to Alibaba founder Jack Ma and Hong Kong’s former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, as well as relatives of former Chinese President Hu Jintao.

    The prominence of 61-year-old Wang’s following was not in doubt, although some of his practices were strange by any standards. From “creating snakes” after placing scraps of paper under an upside-down basin which he jostles around until two snakes issue forth (see video here) to shredding steel with his bare hands, recovering paper from ashes, and even retrieving “an incinerated banknote intact from an orange” – some of his exploits are truly bizarre.

    While actions such as these can be dismissed as magic tricks, things become morally hazy with some of his health suggestions. Wang has claimed to heal cancer and other serious illnesses, including removal of three “stones” from the body of former Indonesian president Suharto. All told, Wang estimates he has worked with some 50,000 patients.

    Wang has dismissed claims that his practices are illegal, claiming that he has undergone rigorous investigation by a team of 17 Japanese scientist over a period of seven days, and has received numerous offers from U.S. intelligence agencies attempting to lure him to their shores with the promise of a green card.

    He claims that he began to cultivate his supernatural powers from age seven under the tutelage of an Emei Taoist priest.

    Despite accusations that he is a charlatan, Wang claims he donates up to 10 million yuan ($1.6 million) annually to charity – a claim that is backed by Pan Zhongwu, deputy director of social assistance at Pingxiang’s Civil Affairs Bureau.

    Sima Nan, well known as a debunker of pseudoscience, invited Wang to Beijing to prove his claims, offering $1.6 million to anyone who can prove they have supernatural powers.

    Wang has not taken criticism or questioning lightly, cursing at least one journalist. “I am telling you, you will die miserably, and your family will follow," Wang told a reporter with The Beijing News last week after she wrote a story that he thought damaged his name.

    If convicted of illegal practice, he has a lot to lose. With the dubious earnings he has raked in, Wang has procured three Hummers and a Rolls-Royce that has been spotted parked in front of his five-story villa in his hometown of Pingxiang, Jiangxi province, nicknamed “the palace” due to the fact that his surname means “king” in Mandarin. He is also known to drive a Porsche and owns further properties in Shenzhen, Nanchang and Hong Kong.

    AUTHORS
    Jonathan DeHart

    Jonathan DeHart is a Tokyo-based journalist and correspondent for The Diplomat.
    Wang Lin

    More on Wang Lin

    Even more on Wang Lin

    & an update

    Wang Lin - no evidence he had practised medicine illegally
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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