Origins of the Persecution of Falun Gong in China
(Clearwisdom.net) It is our belief that when the truth about the persecution of Falun Gong in China has been fully revealed, the persecution will come to an end, since the world will simply not be able to tolerate it. That China's communist leaders have gone to such great lengths to hide and cover up their actions since 1999 indicates that they believe this, also.
To this end, the following is one in a special series of articles designed to more comprehensively expose and chronicle the persecution of Falun Gong in China in all of its many facets. We invite our readers to check back with us on a daily basis this month for more articles which document the crimes against humanity committed by the Chinese Communist Party over the past eleven years of persecuting Falun Gong.
Previous articles in this series:
"Overview of the Persecution" (http://www.clearwisdom.net/html/articles/2010/7/1/118272.html)
"Persecution FAQ" (http://www.clearwisdom.net/html/articles/2010/7/2/118294.html)
“Why is Falun Gong being persecuted in China “Why did the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) ban Falun Gong?” “Why does the Chinese government see Falun Gong as a threat?” Below are some answers. Although they are presented here as distinct explanations, the different reasons are, of course, interconnected in many ways.
At the bottom of the page, a few often-cited explanations that stand on shaky reasoning are briefly examined as well:
The numbers explanation: Falun Gong became too popular too fast
Falun Gong, which was taught in public for the first time in 1992, numbered over 70 million adherents in China only seven years later, according to Chinese government estimates (source). Falun Gong had become, as the U.S. News and World Report put it in 1999, “The largest voluntary organization in China, larger even than the Communist Party,” whose membership at the time stood at 65 million. The Communist Party was intimidated by this rapid rise to popularity and feared it might have competition in Falun Gong.
Further evidence that the Party feared Falun Gong’s popularity comes from the fact that when Falun Gong books became bestsellers in 1996, their publication was immediately banned.
The control explanation: Falun Gong grew too independent for the Party’s liking
Certain Communist Party leaders also saw Falun Gong’s independence as a threat. The Falun Gong’s independence became manifest in the ability of adherents, who could be found throughout China and in every social strata, to communicate among themselves and organize their own activities (including a large gathering to petition the government in response to abuses). The totalitarian Party, which to this day continues to directly control the media, courts, education system, and religious institutions, saw in Falun Gong’s independence and ability to coordinate activities a dangerous precedent.
The fact that among the Falun Gong were many dedicated Party members did not assuage the regime; on the contrary, it fueled its fears that it was in competition with Falun Gong.
The ideological gap explanation: Falun Gong promotes a set of values different from the Party’s
In spite of China’s turning to a market-economy in recent decades, the atheist Communist Party still clings not only to a Leninist system of government, but also to an officially Marxist ideology (even if few officials actually believe in it). This point was illustrated in 2006 by Hu Jintao’s “preserving the progressive nature of the CCP” campaign (news).
Some Party leaders saw Falun Gong, with its belief in the existence of Buddhas, Daos, and gods, and its conviction that anyone can reach a divine realm through self-refinement, as being in conflict with Party ideology.
While this is true of any religion in China, it is also true that all religions in China have been, and in many cases continue to be, persecuted by the CCP. The differences lie in the degree of persecution, the number of people involved, and the amount of effort that the Party puts into persecuting each particular group at any given moment.
Xinhua News, the official CCP mouthpiece, acknowledged this much in 1999. “In fact, the so-called ‘truth, kindness and tolerance’ principle preached by Li Hongzhi [Falun Gong’s founder],” Xinhua proudly declared, “has nothing in common with the socialist ethical and cultural progress we are striving to achieve.”
Ironically, Xinhua touched upon what is for the CCP an embarrassing reality: Falun Gong is the practice of Truth, Compassion, and Tolerance, while for over half a century the Communist Party has ruled through lies, bullying, and violence.
The individual factor explanation: Jiang Zemin’s jealousy and opportunistic maneuvers played a decisive role
Jiang Zemin’s decision to launch the campaign against Falun Gong received little genuine support from other top Party leaders. Then-Prime Minister Zhu Rongji had taken a conciliatory approach toward Falun Gong, and some evidence suggests that current leader Hu Jintao did not see Falun Gong as a problem either (see CNN report).
But with a handful of supporters, led by Luo Gan, Jiang dictated the anti-Falun Gong stance by presenting the group as the biggest threat to the Party, labeling Falun Gong an “evil cult organization ” (analysis), creating the 6-10 Office, and pushing forward legislation to retroactively justify the ban (see Human Rights Watch report).
Why would Jiang do such a thing? For two reasons. First, as funny as it may seem, much evidence suggests that Jiang was acutely jealous of Falun Gong’s popularity and saw it as an undercutting of his own bid to go down in history as the PRC’s third paramount leader (following Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping).
Second, as analyst Willy Lam and others have suggested, Jiang saw an opportunity - by attacking Falun Gong and creating a Maoist-style campaign along with the state of crisis that accompanies it, Jiang could use the campaign “to promote allegiance to himself” and maneuver to gain politically (see CNN report).
Even though Jiang officially began transferring power to Hu Jintao in the end of 2002, members of Jiang’s political faction remain in highly placed positions within the Politburo and Party security apparatuses. These people, like Vice-President Zeng Qinghong and Political-Legal Committee head Luo Gan, have been able to maintain and even intensify the campaign. Occasional reports from inside China, however, do reveal tensions between Jiang’s faction and Hu Jintao’s over the Falun Gong policy.
The CCP is at it again explanation: To survive, the regime has repeatedly targeted different groups
As the book Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party illustrates, throughout its nearly six decades in power, the CCP has run one campaign after another targeting various groups. The Nine Commentaries explain how the Party has repeatedly applied the 95-5 rule: It tells the Chinese people that only a small group of enemies is being targeted; the good 95 percent will not be affected as long as they clearly dissociate themselves from the “bad” 5 percent. This way, the targeted group is quickly alienated. Friends, colleagues, classmates, even family members rush to be identified with the good majority out of fear of persecution.
The trick is that the 5 percent “bad group” constantly rotates – first it was the wealthy people and their families, then people with overseas connections, those with religious beliefs, intellectuals, democracy advocates, and so on…now it’s Falun Gong.
While it is true that such campaigns have become significantly fewer since Mao Zedong’s death in 1976, the Party’s campaign against Falun Gong from 1999 onwards does - in its use of propaganda, show trials, study sessions, and labor camps - hark back to the Maoist era.
Over the course of decades, it is a rare Chinese person who does not have a close friend or relative who was severely persecuted at one point or another. While carrying on with their regular lives, the entire population thus lives with a subterranean fear. The Party can quickly tap into this fear whenever it needs to strengthen control.
Other explanations that have sometimes been cited but are less-than convincing:
The menace explanation: Falun Gong is a danger to society
For Chinese officials in the Foreign Ministry, embassies, and consulates, as well as Chinese journalists and scholars who toe the Party line, the explanation is simple: First, there is no persecution whatsoever taking place, all the so-called “evidence” simply consists of rumors and fabrications stirred up by hostile anti-China forces. Second, Falun Gong is banned because it is a menace to society and any rational government would do the same.
The fact that the Communist Party is actually the only government to have banned Falun Gong while it is practiced freely around the world in over 70 countries is never considered. Nor has the Party been able to explain how tens of thousands practice Falun Gong just 100 miles away in Taiwan without the government or media there complaining about it being a menace. In fact, in the culturally similar Taiwan the situation is quite the opposite - Taiwanese officials are praising Falun Gong, students take it for extra credit, and it is taught in jail to prisoners as part of their rehabilitation program (report).
The shock explanation: The April 25, 1999 gathering led to the ban
Some have argued that Falun Gong was banned because it made the miscalculation of staging a large demonstration right across from the Party leaders’ Zhongnanhai residence in Beijing on April 25, 1999.
There is no doubt that the April 25 gathering (report), actually directed at the State Council Office of Petitions not the neighboring Zhongnanhai government compound, was a key development. Most notably the gathering marked the point in which Jiang Zemin came in to formally lead the anti-Falun Gong policy.
Still, in addition to being legal under the Chinese constitution, the gathering was a reaction to early forms of persecution already taking place. It came three years after Falun Gong books had been banned from publication, after two years of criticism in state-run media and harassment by state security, and was an immediate reaction to the arrest and beating of adherents in nearby Tianjin. If there were no persecution already taking place, why would 10,000 people bother petitioning the government to stop persecuting them?
The collective memory explanation: Party leaders feared another religious rebellion
According to this explanation, Party leaders saw in Falun Gong similarities to past religious movements that turned violent and overthrew dynasties, such as the Yellow Turbans of the Han dynasty, the various White Lotus sects, and the Taiping and Boxer uprisings of the Qing dynasty. The parallel, however, is a very limited one. Unlike those past groups, Falun Gong is not interested in gaining political power and completely rejects the use of violence.
Even if some feared that Falun Gong might turn violent and come to resemble those past rebellions, Falun Gong’s entirely non-violent response to persecution from day one until today should have long ago dispelled such fears.
Finally, Falun Gong has come to oppose the Communist Party only following years of persecution. Falun Gong activities plainly aim at ending this persecution of innocent people. Mr. Li’s writings (http://www.falundafa.org/eng/books.htm) and the views expressed by Falun Gong adherents in China and overseas make it clear that Falun Gong has no interest in taking over political power in China.
Original article published at: http://faluninfo.net/print/219/
Category: Why is Falun Dafa Persecuted?