Beijing and Taipei: Two Cities, Worlds Apart
As Beijing Continues Torture & Killing Under Jiang's Regime, Falun Gong Remains Toast of the Town in Taipei
NEW YORK (FDI) — Mr. Zhiwun Wang, an engineer from Beijing, was kidnapped from his bed by police, illegally held in detention and most certainly tortured for six months before he was sentenced to 16 years in prison. The reason? Mr. Wang volunteered his time to help organize Falun Gong practice sites in Beijing.
Mr. Qingxi Zhang, a professor of economics at the National University of Taiwan, has received congratulatory telegrams from Taiwan’s President and Vice-President, and played host to the Mayor of Taipei during a recent Falun Dafa conference. The reason? Mr. Zhang volunteers his time to help organize Falun Gong practice sites in Taipei.
Sharing the same culture, history, tradition, language, and indeed, the same people, over the last 3 plus years, Taiwan and Mainland China could not have taken a more different approach to Falun Gong.
Falun Gong in Mainland China
In Mainland China, dictator Jiang Zemin, outlawed the peaceful practice in July 1999 (report), fearful of anything touching the hearts and minds of more citizens than the Communist Party. Unable to crush the 70-100 million practitioners of Falun Gong in China, Jiang’s regime has intensified its propaganda campaign to turn public opinion against the practice while quietly imprisoning, torturing and even murdering those who practice it.
Since the fall of 1999, reports of Falun Gong practitioners being tortured to death in police custody have surfaced almost every day. Hundreds of thousands have been detained, with more than 100,000 being sentenced to forced labor camps, typically without trial.
Many practitioners of Falun Gong have been fired from their jobs, expelled from schools, have their homes ransacked by Chinese police, their businesses interrupted and their property confiscated.
Many observers have compared the treatment of Falun Gong in Mainland China with the treatment of Jews in late 1930’s Germany, as the Nazi regime began to set the wheels in motion for full-scale genocide. A lawsuit against Jiang Zemin charging genocide and other crimes is currently making its way through U.S. District Court (news).
Taiwan Cherishes Traditional Chinese Culture
In Taiwan, Falun Gong has become a cherished element in the fabric of society. The practice receives praise from the very highest level in the government. There are over 850 practice sites throughout Taiwan — an island smaller in size than the states of Maryland and Delaware combined — where people can go to learn Falun Gong free of charge.
Several Falun Gong summer retreats for Elementary and Middle school teachers, endorsed by the board of education, have been organized over the past few years to teach teachers the principles of the practice.
Practitioners of Falun Gong have also been welcomed into the nation’s prisons so they can teach the practice to inmates.
On December 29, 2002, over 5,000 people gathered in the National University of Taiwan stadium to attend an annual Falun Dafa conference. Taipei’s newly elected Mayor, Mr Ying-Jeou. Ma, spoke at the conference, saying, “Truthfulness-Benevolence-Forbearance (the guiding principles of the practice) has made millions of people healthy and has improved their morality.”
In an interview with the South China Morning Post on Jan. 15, the Mayor called on the Mainland to change its position regarding Falun Gong.
Why Such Popularity in Taiwan?
“Taiwan has always been a place where the treasures of traditional Chinese culture are respected and cherished,” explains Ms. Kaishin Yen, a Columbia University graduate who was born and raised in
aipei. “Our National Museum is a testament to this… so much of China’s precious art and culture has been safely preserved there, while most of such treasures were destroyed on the Mainland during the ‘Cultural Revolution.'”
Ms. Yen continues, “On the Mainland, the ‘Cultural Revolution’ is happening all over again only this time the target is Falun Gong. Falun Gong has roots in ancient Chinese traditions and philosophies for self-improvement. Thus, while Jiang Zemin tries to exterminate it on the Mainland, it is respected and cherished here in Taiwan.”
Mayor Ma feels that the persecution against Falun Gong itself goes against traditional Chinese culture. “Religious repression really isn’t a part of traditional Chinese culture, and as the inheritors of Chinese culture, the mainland really should be more tolerant,” Mayor Ma told the South China Morning Post on Jan. 15.
Falun Gong Once Praised on the Mainland Too
Shortly after Mr. Li Hongzhi introduced Falun Gong to the public in 1992, the practice flourished throughout China. At the invitation of local branches of the China Qigong Scientific Research Society (the branch of the Chinese government that oversees qigong activities), Mr. Li lectured in over 20 cities between 1992 and 1994. During this time, the government issued a number of awards to Mr. Li, and he was invited to speak at such high-profile venues as the China Hero Foundation in the government’s Public Security Department.
A survey conducted by the Chinese government in that latter part of 1998 revealed there were 70-100 million people practicing Falun Gong throughout the country — a statistic that many in the government welcomed. “Falun Gong and other types of qigong can save each person 1,000 Yuan in annual medical fees,” Mr. Shaozu Wu, Director of China’s Sports Commission, was quoted by U.S. News and World Report in February of 1999. “If 100 million people are practicing it, that’s 100 billion Yuan saved per year in medical fees. Premier Zhu Rongji is very happy about that.”
China’s leader, Jiang Zemin, however took a very different approach. Seeing Falun Gong both as a threat to his rule and as an opportunity to gain politically by instigating a mass movement (about), Jiang launched the persecution of Falun Gong across the country in July 1999.
The persecution has not only continued unabated for three and a half years, it has steadily escalated as Jiang has become increasingly obsessed with eradicating Falun Gong. By contrast, the popularity of Falun Gong in Taiwan has skyrocketed over the past three and a half years.
With respect to Falun Gong, therefore, Beijing and Taipei have become two different worlds.