Parents of Dr. Sherry Zhang

California Private School Principal and Parents Threatened for Exposing Persecution of Faith and Teaching Traditional Chinese Culture

Dr. Sherry Zhang, an elite scientist and principal of Xian Yun Academy of the Arts California, is a practitioner of Falun Dafa. Although she has studied, worked, and lived in the United States for more than 25 years, her faith has brought unsolicited attention from China’s Communist regime. 

To coerce her into resigning as the principal of Xian Yun Academy, a non-religious private middle and high school that teaches traditional Chinese values and culture, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials in her hometown Guangzhou have incessantly harassed and threatened her parents since February 2021, causing the elderly couple’s private business of 30 years to face being shut down. 

Taking Up Falun Dafa

Dr. Zhang began practicing Falun Dafa in 1996 while attending graduate school in the U.S. She went on to obtain a doctor’s degree and did her postdoctoral studies at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, one of the world’s top laboratories.

Since taking up Falun Dafa, Dr. Zhang has come to discover the power of the practice and become a steadfast follower. 

She said, “I studied science and finished my postdoctoral studies at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, one of the top laboratories in the United States—and in fact the world. However, after reading Zhuan Falun and other lectures by Falun Dafa’s founder, I became convinced that the principles he taught are extraordinary, even from a scientific perspective. What we humans know about the universe at our current level is far too tiny…. Because of my background and experience as a scientist, I quickly recognized that what we learned from textbooks is very shallow.”

From Scientist to Educator

By chance, Dr. Zhang changed her career path and switched from science to education. She explained that she took the position as the principal of Xian Yun because as an accomplished scientist, she felt a deep sense of responsibility to educate and shape the minds of the younger generation. 

The Xian Yun Academy offers a unique curriculum that is rooted in China’s traditional values and culture. Through the studies of five thousand years of authentic Chinese culture and art, the students develop a character that is kind and upright, resilient and noble.

Besides being extensively trained in one specific area of the arts, the students also receive a top-notch secondary school education. 

Dr. Zhang said, “When they graduate from our school, I am confident that they will be useful to society. Not only because they have the knowledge and skills, they also have a keen sense of aesthetics and great moral character based on traditional values. Our students possess righteous minds and upright conduct. These qualities can bring positive changes to society and our students can contribute positively to their environment. The middle and high school years are a very critical period in a person’s life and school plays an important role in shaping a child into a good person. The education our students receive here can benefit them for a lifetime.”

What Xian Yun has accomplished in the decade of its existence has earned respect and admiration from other educators and appreciation from students and parents. The school has consistently produced well-rounded graduates who excel in all areas of studies, which in turn put Xian Yun on the map as a highly competitive private school in the Bay Area.

Elderly Parents Repeatedly Threatened

Since this February, Guangzhou police began randomly showing up at Dr. Zhang’s parents’ business to harass and threaten them in attempts to blackmail their daughter to leave her position at Xian Yun. The elderly couple is in their 70s and do not practice Falun Dafa. They had been prior harassed for Dr. Zhang’s raising awareness of the persecution of Falun Dafa.

Before they were harassed in February, Dr. Zhang’s parents were unaware she had been teaching at Xian Yun until the Ministry of State Security (MSS) officials showed her parents her profile photo from the school website.

“They told my parents they would not stop until I leave Xian Yun. They also want me to go back to China. If I don’t comply, they’ll cause more trouble for my parents until they are forced to close their business,” she said.  

This is despite Dr. Zhang’s parents being hard-working and law-abiding business owners. According to Zhang, her parents’ company has been running for more than 30 years and has several hundred employees. Their company is also one of the top three tax-paying businesses in the city.

Dr. Zhang added, “An employee of the company overheard at the Neighborhood Committee that my parents’ business has been labeled as a ‘cult business.’ The officials of these government agencies know exactly why these unreasonable inspections are being imposed. The agencies send large groups of seven or eight inspectors during each inspection to intimidate my parents and the employees.”

 CCP officials had all major government agencies, such as Public Health, Law Enforcement, Customs, Commerce, take turns inspecting the business, including checking the business’ taxes and conducting extensive health and safety inspections of the entire facility. The company currently faces being closed due to the frequent harassment instigated by CCP officials.

Although some local officials did not wish for her parents’ business to close, Dr. Zhang’s activism in raising awareness of the persecution of Falun Gong in China and becoming the principal of a private school that promotes traditional Chinese values and culture has caught the notice of police in her hometown, attracting attention from the Party officials of the provincial level and even within the central government. This places more pressure on the local officials to continuing harassing Dr. Zhang’s parents.

Dr. Zhang said, “We all know how wicked the CCP is. The sheer number of officials they send causes anxiety and fear among the employees. After the CCP took power in the late 1940s, they have been using these despicable tactics to instill fear and to control the Chinese people. All of their violent sociopolitical movements and tactics serve to sustain their power. It’s all politics. This harassment in the form of ‘inspections’ has not stopped. Their goal is to cause mental pressure for my parents.”

The harassment has caused tremendous pressure for Dr. Zhang’s parents, with Party officials going as far as insinuating the elderly couple could face jail time if Dr. Zhang does not resign. 

Threats Will Not Change People’s Hearts

Dr. Zhang said her parents are putting great pressure on her to resign, even threatening to “cut all ties” with her. The MSS officials threatened the couple that if they did not do as they were told, they would not only will lose their business but also lose their freedom.

Xian Yun is a non-religious school that teaches traditional Chinese culture and arts, in addition to a formal academic curriculum. The students excel in this environment and their performance exceeds expectations in all subjects. Why the CCP wants to cause trouble for such an excellent school is baffling to Dr. Zhang.

“The education system is failing our kids now. I chose this field because young people are our hope. This is very meaningful and rewarding work,” she said. “If the CCP truly cares about Chinese people, it should be very supportive of our efforts, instead of trying to shut us down by all means. This goes to show that while the CCP wants everybody to sing its praises, it doesn’t contribute positively to China nor to the world.”

“My parents have not done anything wrong, yet they have to live in constant fear. I told them that I am an adult and I make my own choices in life. My career choice has nothing to do with my parents and they should not have been implicated.”

The CCP also spread false rumors and concocted outright lies, claiming the United States government is financially supporting Falun Dafa and that Dr. Zhang’s parents’ business was financially supporting Xian Yun, although Dr. Zhang’s parents had no knowledge of her being the principal of Xian Yun until they were harassed.

CCP officials also told Dr. Zhang’s parents she was being used, which Dr. Zhang called  “ridiculous”.

“I know many practitioners who have completed high levels of education—just like me. We are not going to blindly follow just anybody and learn just any practice. The CCP wants to deceive, coerce, and bribe people into changing their minds and hearts. Isn’t that absurd?”

Dr. Zhang said that there is nothing wrong with practicing Falun Dafa, as religious freedom is a fundamental right. She hopes that by revealing the CCP’s outrageous and despicable tactics, more people will wake up to its evil nature. 

Based on an original report from

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