Ten things to know as Xi Jinping visits the United States

As future Chinese Communist Party-head Xi Jinping arrives in the United States, the Falun Dafa Information Center is publishing a list of ten key facts to know about China and urging U.S. officials not to remain silent in the face of what members of Congress have called “one of the most unjust and cruel persecutions of our times.”

"On the eve of Xi Jinping's official visit, we hope to bring to the public's attention the ongoing plight of Falun Gong practitioners in China," says Falun Gong spokesman Erping Zhang. "This is an opportunity for the leaders of the free world to call for an end to the 12-year-old persecution of tens of millions of innocent and peaceful Falun Gong practitioners. We also call on those who are serving as officials in the Chinese communist regime to side with history and end this campaign of repression and violence." 

In advance of Xi's visit, we urge the media, human rights groups, the American public, and especially, U.S. officials meeting with the delegation, to keep the following ten facts at the forefront of their minds. 

1. The Chinese Communist Party is engaged in an ongoing, systematic campaign to eradicate Falun Gong through propaganda, imprisonment, torture, and coercion.
2. Prior to 1999, the practice of Falun Gong was widely praised by Chinese government and media for its positive effects on public health and morality.
3. Falun Gong was never officially “banned” in China; there are no laws that forbid the practice.
4. An average of once every three days, a new case of a Falun Gong practitioner dying from torture and abuse is reported.
5. Since 2010, the central 610 Office has been carrying out a 3-year, nationwide campaign to intensify the coercive religious "transformation" of Falun Gong practitioners. Thousands of people have been abducted in the process.
6. Lawyers who seek to represent practitioners face harassment, disbarment, torture, and “disappearance.”
7. In 2009, Xi Jinping was put in charge of an effort called the “6521 project” to crack down on Falun Gong, Tibetans, and democracy activists during a year of politically sensitive anniversaries.
8. Falun Gong practitioners are the largest group of prisoners of conscience in the world, numbering in the hundreds of thousands at any given time.
9. A large-scale, grassroots Samizdat-like effort is informing Chinese people about the persecution occurring in their neighborhoods, towns and cities.
10. Communist Party officials have sought to expand the persecution of Falun Gong beyond China, including to the United States.

1. The Chinese Communist Party is engaged in an ongoing, systematic campaign to eradicate Falun Gong through propaganda, imprisonment, torture, and coercion. Since July 20, 1999, over 100 million Falun Gong practitioners in China have been at constant risk of detention, torture, and death because of their religious identity. Today, the lawlessness and brutality of the Party’s treatment of citizens who practiced Falun Gong remains staggering.  Large-scale abductions, detention in concentration camps, extreme torture, rape, psychiatric abuse, and extrajudicial killings of Falun Gong practitioners are routine. In addition to eyewitness accounts by victims themselves, a wealth of third-party, independent documentation—and even Chinese official admissions—conveys this reality. Monetary and career incentives are used to encourage violence against practitioners in order to meet “transformation” quotas. Trainings are conducted across labor camps and brainwashing centers on the most effective ways to “break” Falun Gong practitioners.

2. Falun Gong was never officially “banned” in China; there are no laws that forbid the practice. Contrary to Chinese authorities’ assertion that the persecution of Falun Gong is carried out “according to the law,” the entire suppression campaign has been ordered and executed in an unconstitutional manner by the Communist Party (not the government) via the extralegal “610 Office.”  "Arno Pro Light Display";mso-bidi-font-family:"Arno Pro Light Display"; color:black">According to analysis by Chinese human rights lawyers and legal scholars, there is no legal pretext for the persecution of Falun Gong , or for the use of reeducation-through-labor to punish practitioners. Falun Gong is not “outlawed as an evil cult;” only the National People’s Congress has the legislative authority to make such assessments, and it has not. No laws or proclamations by the National People’s Congress so much as mention Falun Gong, and official lists of “evil cults” similarly make no mention of Falun Gong. Neither was the practice banned by the Ministry of Public Security or the Ministry of Civilian Affairs on 22 July 1999; these are not legislative bodies, and they do not have the authority to outlaw Falun Gong. The persecution is and has always been carried out extrajudicially under orders from the Communist Party via the 610 Office, which compels and coerces the courts, media, education system, and public security organs to cooperate in the anti-Falun Gong campaign.

3. Prior to 1999, the practice of Falun Gong was widely praised by Chinese government and media for its positive effects on public health and morality. Upon its general introduction to the public in 1992, Falun Gong and its founder, Li Hongzhi, were quickly embraced by Chinese officials. Li was hailed as the country’s “star qigong master,” and praised by the Ministry of Public Security for promoting social stability and supporting the “crime-fighting virtues” of the Chinese people. The publishing ceremony for the main text of Falun Gong was held in the auditorium of the Ministry of Public Security in 1995. Surveys in the late 1990s by the State Sports Commission found that over 97% of Falun Gong practitioners had achieved significant improvements to their health through the practice, and the then-premier of China, Zhu Rongji, was said to be very pleased with Falun Gong’s efficacy in lowering health care costs. By 1999, an estimated 100 million people were practicing Falun Gong. Nearly 16% of them were Communist Party members, and included among them were leaders in the government, military, and academia.  It was precisely because of Falun Gong’s popularity that the Communist Party came to view it as a source of ideological competition and set out to crush it. 

4. An average of once every three days, a new case of a Falun Gong practitioner dying from torture and abuse is reported. On a typical day in January 2012, three to five practitioners of Falun Gong are sentenced in show trials to lengthy prison terms. More are sent to forced labor, or abducted from homes or workplaces and taken to “transformation-through-reeducation” facilities. Once every three days, a report emerges of a practitioner being killed as a result of abuse in custody. In total, since 1999, over 3,400 cases have been documented of Falun Gong practitioners who have died as a result of various forms of persecution. Though already reflecting large-scale abuses, these documented cases are only the tip of the iceberg, given the difficulty passing information on Falun Gong out of China. None of those killed committed any “crime” or engaged in any violent act. Rather, they sought only to peacefully pursue the spiritual path of their choice.

5. Since 2010, the central 610 Office has been carrying out  a 3-year, nationwide campaign to intensify the coercive religious "transformation" of Falun Gong practitioners. Thousands of people have been abducted in the process.  In 2010, the central 610 Office initiated a three-year, nationwide campaign to intensify efforts to coercively “transform” a large percentage of the known Falun Gong population. Transformation here refers to a process of forced religious conversion, or ideological reprograming. Documents from local authorities across the country describe orders to press local businesses and family members to assist in the transformation of practitioners. Some set quotas for transformation rates, stating, for instance, that 75 percent of known practitioners must be made to renounce their faith in a given locale. Among the prescribed tactics are to force practitioners to attend transformation sessions run by the 610 Office in a variety of civilian establishments such as hotels, temples, and schools. If practitioners fail to recant, they can be sentenced to labor camps or prisons. Within labor camps and prisons, authorities had also been ordered to intensify transformation efforts, resulting in several torture deaths in custody.

6. Lawyers who seek to represent practitioners face harassment, disbarment, torture, and “disappearance.” Over the last several years, a growing number of human rights (“Weiquan”) lawyers have sought to advocate and litigate on behalf of Falun Gong practitioners. These lawyers are among the most severely harassed and persecuted in their profession. Many have lost legal licenses or been permanently disbarred. Several lawyers, including Gao Zhisheng, Tang Jitian, Jiang Tianyong, and Wang Yonghang, among others, have been abused or tortured in custody as a direct result of their Falun Gong advocacy. Last year, lawyer Zhu Yubiao was sentenced to prison in Guangdong province for defending Falun Gong. Lawyers are frequently not permitted to contact Falun Gong clients, are barred from the courtrooms, or describe undue interference in the legal process by the 610 Office or CCP’s Political-Legal Committees.

7. In 2009, Xi Jinping was put in charge of an effort called the “6521 project” to crack down on Falun Gong, Tibetans, and democracy activists during a year of politically sensitive anniversaries.  The 6521 project was the name given to a year-long, nationwide campaign to intensify monitoring and suppression of dissidents and Falun Gong practitioners. The numbers refer to important anniversaries—60 years since the Communist takeover of China, 50 years since major uprisings in Tibet, 20 years since the Tiananmen Square Massacre, and 10 years since the persecution of Falun Gong began. The campaign required all levels of government and neighborhood committees to monitor and report on potential disturbances, such as instances where Falun Gong practitioners distribute informational literature about the persecution to their neighbors.

8. Falun Gong practitioners are the largest group of prisoners of conscience in the world, numbering in the hundreds of thousands at any given time. A 2009 study published by the group Chinese Human Rights Defenders found that, “Falun Gong practitioners make up one of the largest groups of detainees in [labor] camps.” Researcher Ethan Gutmann estimates, based on dozens of interviews with former detainees, that Falun Gong practitioners comprise 15 to 20 percent of those held in labor camps, prison camps, and long-term detention facilities. Drawing on credible reports of the overall population in these camps being between three and five million, Gutmann estimates that 450,000 to one million Falun Gong adherents are in detention at any given time. By comparison, Reporters without Borders cites 30 journalists and 77 “netizens” imprisoned in China. The highest estimates for Tibetans and Uyghurs held in custody do not rise above 10,000. No other country in the world has a single group of religious believers with so many people wrongfully imprisoned. 

9. A large-scale, grassroots Samizdat-like effort is informing Chinese people about the persecution occurring in their neighborhoods, towns and cities. At great risk to themselves, millions of practitioners inside China engage in daily grassroots actions to resist the persecution of their faith and raise awareness of the brutality suffered by fellow practitioners. A vast network of underground print shops—reported to number 200,000—continues to function. At these sites, many of which are located in someone’s home and consist of a computer and printer, practitioners access overseas Falun Gong or other websites to download information for producing leaflets and video CDs about the practice and the rights abuses suffered by practitioners. These efforts are having an effect: increasingly, ordinary Chinese citizens are protesting and openly petitioning local authorities to release detained Falun Gong practitioners. 

10.  Communist Party officials have sought to expand the persecution of Falun Gong beyond China, including to the United States. Over the past ten years, scores of physical assaults, verbal attacks and death threats against Falun Gong practitioners by Chinese government-linked individuals have been recorded in the United States, Europe, Latin America, Africa and elsewhere. Chinese businesses and prominent figures in overseas communities routinely come under direct or indirect pressure from the CCP to take action against Falun Gong practitioners. As just one example, in 2011, mainland China-based IP addresses sent letters to elected officials, media editors, and NGO leaders pretending to be U.S.-based Falun Gong practitioners, and making irrational, threatening demands upon them. In October 2003, the U.S. Congress passed House Concurrent Resolution 304 expressing concern over Communist Party harassment of Falun Gong practitioners and their supporters on U.S. soil.

 

Background

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual practice that identifies with the Buddhist school. Known in Chinese culture as a form of spiritual cultivation or "qigong" practice, it combines meditation and slow-moving exercises with a moral philosophy centered on the tenets of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. Although it stems from an ancient lineage, Falun Gong was first popularized in China in 1992 by Li Hongzhi. It quickly became one of the largest "qigong" disciplines in the country on account of its efficacy in improving health and its moral and philosophical teachings. By late 1998, government sources estimated that upwards of 70 million people were practicing Falun Gong in China, while Falun Gong estimated 100 million. Unfortunately, on July 20 1999, the Communist Party launched a campaign to "eradicate" Falun Gong.

Since then, the Chinese Communist Party has carried out a widespread, brutal campaign of persecution. The United Nations, Amnesty International, Chinese human rights lawyers, and Western media have documented Falun Gong torture and deaths at the hands of Chinese officials. In its annual report released in early 2011, Amnesty International stated that Falun Gong practitioners who refused to renounce their beliefs "are typically tortured until they co-operate; many die in detention or shortly after release."