Chinese Consulate-Backed Group Targets Falun Gong Appeal During APEC Summit in San Francisco
During this year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, which included a meeting between President Biden and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) general secretary Xi Jinping on November 15, 2023, pro-Beijing supporters obstructed and vandalized banners of multiple Falun Gong appeals.
From November 15 to 17, an estimated 100-200 Falun Gong practitioners held peaceful demonstrations in multiple spots around San Francisco for an end to the Chinese Communist Party’s multi-decade persecution of their faith. Dozens of Falun Gong banners and signs lined 3rd Street in downtown San Francisco, waiting for Xi as he made his first visit to the United States since 2017.
Silenced by CCP supporters
Falun Gong appeal sites in downtown near the Moscone Center and the St. Regis Hotel on 3rd Street, where Xi was staying, faced prolonged and premeditated attacks by CCP supporters.
In a particularly intense confrontation, a young Chinese man vandalized a Falun Gong practitioner’s speaker before trying to tear down their banners. He then attacked the reporter who was recording the incident on his phone.
The pro-Beijing crowd was paid hundreds of dollars for their attendance by the Chinese consulates in California and New York, according to interviews and reports by media like NTD Television and Newsweek. The consulates also covered the flights, food, and accommodations for CCP supporters and international Chinese students.
In effect, the mass recruitment drew thousands of pro-CCP individuals into San Francisco for the APEC summit, which outnumbered the Falun Gong practitioners and other dissidents in attendance.
“The CCP crowd is blocking our banners,” one young Falun Gong practitioner from San Francisco told the Falun Dafa Information Center in an interview on November 17, “They are using a speaker to play the CCP anthem loudly, drowning out our appeals and meditation music.”
Another young practitioner from Los Angeles told the Falun Dafa Information Center, “I’m literally so shocked. How can the San Francisco police allow the CCP supporters to do that, to conceal our banners and silence our voices so blatantly?”
Some of the blocked banners displayed phrases that are considered sensitive to the CCP, including “Stop the persecution of Falun Gong in China,” “China ≠ Chinese Communist Party,” “Stop killing Falun Gong practitioners for their organs,” “Loving the country ≠ Loving the Party,” and “Falun Gong is Good.”
Beginning nearly a quarter of a century ago in July 1999, the CCP’s persecution of Falun Gong adherents remains one of the largest and most severe human rights crises in China today, complete with large-scale imprisonment, invasive surveillance, and deaths in custody.
‘Rescue My Family’
Multiple practitioners participated in the appeals for a personal reason: to request the release of their family members from unjust sentences in China.
San Francisco resident Ms. Liu Zhitong called for the release of her mother, Ms. Kong Qingping. On October 22, 2022, Ms. Kong was placed into custody at Yaojia Detention Center in Liaoning Province. She remains in detention today, where authorities have blocked family visits.
Another Falun Gong practitioner, Karen Kang, also called for the release of her sister Kang Shumei, and her nephews Gu Zhang and Hou Lijun. Her family members were involved with appeal efforts in China to oppose and raise awareness about the persecution.