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Diplomatic Disruptions and Disinformation

Beijing’s Global Drive to Stop Shen Yun

Shen Yun performers and the local presenter holding a press conference on the steps of the Korean Broadcasting Corporation theater after shows were canceled at the last minute in 2016 due to pressure from the Chinese embassy in Seoul. Credit: Shen Yun Performing Arts

Key Takeaways

  • The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is targeting Shen Yun Performing Arts, a U.S.-based non-profit, with the most aggressive global campaign of Beijing-driven artistic censorship documented to date. The effort is a key dimension of the regime’s broader transnational repression aimed at Falun Gong practitioners, their peaceful activism, and their supporters around the world.

  • Primary tactics include threatening theaters and government officials with economic reprisals, spreading disinformation, sabotaging vehicles carrying Shen Yun performers, threatening or imprisoning relatives of performers in China, and organizing protests by pro-Beijing diaspora groups outside performance venues.

  • This is a truly global phenomenon. Everywhere Shen Yun has performed—across North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East—the CCP’s sabotage attempts have followed. This brief documents more than 130 incidents of interference by Chinese officials or their proxies targeting Shen Yun across 38 countries—including the United States—since 2007.

  • Internal party documents reveal that instructions to sabotage Shen Yun come from the very top of the CCP. Central authorities have issued directives that deem suppressing Shen Yun to be “an important part of the … struggle against Falun Gong.” Indeed, in a majority of cases, Chinese diplomats are the main actors in attempts to silence Shen Yun.

  • The CCP views Shen Yun as a serious threat to its power. The CCP has spent nearly 25 years trying to eradicate and demonize Falun Gong and even longer to destroy China’s traditional culture. All these efforts can be unraveled by a Shen Yun performance, which showcases authentic Chinese culture, world-class artistry by talented Falun Gong practitioners, and storylines about the CCP’s deadly religious persecution. The CCP cannot abide having its crimes exposed or its lies about Falun Gong undermined, so it is responding with this unprecedented campaign.

  • While most theater managers and government officials around the world have rebuffed pressure from the CCP, a few theaters—especially in countries with strong ties to the CCP—have caved to the pressure, and cancelled or rejected Shen Yun performances.

  • The regime’s crusade to stop Shen Yun is a test case for how well the United States and its democratic allies are able to protect free expression from the CCP’s authoritarian manipulation.
  • What is Shen Yun? Shen Yun is a New York based non-profit whose mission is to revive traditional Chinese culture through artistic performances that combine classical Chinese dance, folk and ethnic dances, and original musical compositions that incorporate traditional Chinese instruments into a Western symphony orchestra.[1] Each Shen Yun performance consists of approximately 20 dance pieces depicting tales from China’s great works of literature, legends from different dynasties, and various folk traditions from across China’s 5,000-year-old civilization. Some dance pieces depict historic Chinese legends of spiritual believers overcoming obstacles, as well as dances portraying present day religious persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China. Most Shen Yun performers are also practitioners of Falun Gong, a meditation and spiritual discipline that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) violently suppresses in China.[2] Indeed, Shen Yun’s performers include many who have fled China where they and their families were subjected to surveillance, harassment, arbitrary detention, and torture.[3]
  • Why is Beijing targeting Shen Yun? Founded by elite artists who fled religious persecution in China, Shen Yun offers an authentic portrayal of traditional Chinese culture.[4] Departing from the CCP’s propaganda, Shen Yun revives dimensions of Chinese culture that the CCP has spent over 70 years destroying in a bid to underpin its political power with Marxism-Leninism. Shen Yun’s performances have also proven effective at debunking the CCP’s demonizing falsehoods about Falun Gong, both by exposing the persecution on stage and by displaying the artistic talent and positive energy of practitioners as they perform. As evident from internal documents, the CCP views these aspects of Shen Yun’s work as a threat to its legitimacy and sees the troupe’s success as an existential threat to its hold on power (see below). In other words, Shen Yun’s growth and success undermines billions of dollars that the CCP has invested via its propaganda and security apparatus to marginalize and eliminate Falun Gong in China and around the world.[5] The CCP is desperate to prevent nearly 25 years of its efforts from going to waste.
  • Top-down orders with in the party-state: Leaked documents and official statements on the Chinese internet obtained by the Falun Dafa Information Center indicate that high-level CCP officials and governing bodies have issued directives to “make every effort to curb the overseas cultural activities” of Shen Yun.[6] The documents state that “central, provincial, and municipal leaders attach great importance [to Shen Yun] and have issued important instructions to strengthen work measures [against it].”[7] Lower-level security officials have also issued instructions to “implement a targeted crackdown” against Shen Yun.[8] These documents—alongside the scale of the campaign and common tactics used by diplomats in dozens of countries, as outlined below—demonstrate the centrally directed and systematic nature of the regime’s efforts to sabotage Shen Yun.
  • Full spectrum attack: The CCP regime and its proxies have utilized a variety of covert, deceptive, coercive, and corrupting tactics in dozens of countries in its campaign to cripple Shen Yun. These include: threatening economic reprisals if theaters and local government officials allow Shen Yun to perform, making false claims of performers carrying COVID-19, sabotaging vehicles carrying Shen Yun performers, questioning potential recruits or relatives of performers in China, and organizing protests by pro-Beijing diaspora groups outside performance venues.

  • Chinese diplomats at the fore front: The CCP’s orders mentioned above are carried out by, among others, Chinese diplomats posted at embassies and consulates around the world. In 81 of the 135 documented incidents, a Chinese diplomat took action to undermine Shen Yun. This typically entailed sending a letter, making a phone call, or visiting in-person a theater manager or local government official and spouting falsehoods about Shen Yun, while implicitly or explicitly threating economic reprisals for disobedience.
    • In 2019, for example, the Chinese Ambassador to Spain visited the management of the Royal Theater in Madrid and pressured them not to allow Shen Yun to perform. He reportedly threatened to hold out access to the Chinese market as part of the “International League of Theaters of the Silk Road,” and urged them “not to only think about the economic income but also politics.”[9] The theater indeed conceded to the pressure and canceled the performances just weeks in advance of the shows and with tickets already sold. The role of the ambassador became clear from a subsequently recorded phone call in which he relayed the details of his visit to the theater to activists posing as Chinese officials.
    • In an earlier incident in the United States, in May 2009, the Chinese consulate in Houston sent a 13-page letter to the Robinson Center Music Hall in Little Rock, Arkansas asking that the theater deny Shen Yun’s application to perform there.[10] An official from the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau said at the time that they had never received any letter like it before nor was it is clear how the consulate knew that Shen Yun planned to perform at the theater. The theater resisted the pressure and in a subsequent statement, the official noted, “No matter who gives us pressure or threats, we will do what we think is the right thing. I am proud to have Shen Yun perform here.”
    • Even in public appearances unrelated to Shen Yun, Chinese diplomats have been known to speak out against the performance. In Peru, for example, the Chinese embassy held an opening ceremony for the “Chinese Book Room” in a major public library in Lima. In a speech captured on video, the embassy’s cultural advisor urged audience members not to attend Shen Yun’s performances in the city in February 2020.[11]
  • Chinese officials applying pressure on governments and theatergoers: In addition to contacting theater managers, Chinese diplomats have in many countries attempted to recruit local officials—including those involved in managing publicly funded venues—to pressure theaters not to allow Shen Yun to perform. They have also issued public statements advising theatergoers to avoid the performance.
    • For example, Shen Yun performed in Israel for the first time in 2018. Prior to the performances, the Chinese embassy contacted the manager of the Tel Aviv Opera House and requested that the venue cancel the shows. Failing to convince the manager, the embassy attempted to pressure the theater through the local government and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The embassy also sent letters to advertising companies running Shen Yun advertisements. Despite these elaborate efforts, the shows went ahead and tickets for all four performances sold out.[12]
    • More recently, ahead of a series of Shen Yun shows in Mexico in 2022, the Chinese embassy sent a letter to the municipality of Queretaro calling for the mayor’s office to block Shen Yun’s performance in the city. Its language mimicked PRC letters sent to local governments and theaters around the world, saying that allowing Shen Yun to perform would “undermine China-Mexico friendly relations.” In the days leading up to the performances, the embassy’s official Twitter account posted tweets slandering Shen Yun and advising people not to attend the show in Queretaro or other Mexican cities. Mexican Twitter users responded with ironic comments thanking the embassy for letting them know about the show. Local officials and theater managers in Queretaro, as well as in other cities hosting Shen Yun, rebuffed the embassy’s pressure.[13]
  • Targeting Shen Yun inside China: Within China, agents of the Chinese security apparatus have harassed and at times detained family members of Shen Yun performers in an effort to coerce dancers or musicians into quitting the company.[14] CCP security forces have also engaged in a systematic campaign to prevent talented musicians and dancers throughout China from joining Shen Yun, including instructing arts schools to issue warnings to students and threatening to hold the educational institutions responsible if anyone from the facility joins Shen Yun.[15] Separately, in an attempt to bypass the regime’s ban on Shen Yun, Falun Gong practitioners across China have in the past distributed DVDs of its performances, providing the Chinese people with an alternative to the CCP’s whitewashed version of traditional Chinese culture and with an opportunity to see through the party-state’s lies about Falun Gong. For doing so, practitioners have repeatedly been arrested and some have faced prosecution, including 60 cases documented in mid-2014 alone.[16]

Disinformation is a core tactic used by the CCP to attack its perceived enemies and the campaign against Shen Yun is no different. Disinformation efforts targeting Shen Yun have taken three key forms:

  1. False narratives delivered by Chinese diplomats to theater managers and local government leaders. Alongside threats of economic reprisals, false claims about Shen Yun are relayed as part of the pressure campaign upon these local actors not to host or attend performances. Examples of typical narratives include CCP accusations that Falun Gong is a “cult” and that Shen Yun is a mere “propaganda” show for Falun Gong, as well as regurgitation of other standard anti-Falun Gong disinformation central to the regime’s campaign to demonize and eliminate the spiritual practice. These assertions have repeatedly been debunked. For example, China experts and journalists—among them, the University of Pennsylvania’s Arthur Waldron and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Ian Johnson—have called the designation of Falun Gong as a “cult” inappropriate and false. Canadian religious studies professor David Ownby described the label as follows in a 2008 book: “The entire issue of the supposed cultic nature of Falun Gong was a red herring from the beginning, cleverly exploited by the Chinese state to blunt the appeal of Falun Gong and the effectiveness of the group’s activities outside China.”[17] By contrast, professor Waldron has praised Shen Yun as an “authentic treasure” of Chinese civilization.[18]

  2. Coordinated social media and phone-call campaigns spread lies. One of the starkest examples of this tactic was an incident in February 2020 in Salt Lake City, when individuals with Chinese names began calling or emailing theaters spreading lies that Shen Yun performers were from China and were carrying COVID-19 and complaining about the potential threat to public health. The impact of the campaign was such that the Utah Department of Health and Human Services posted a message on Twitter exposing such rumors as false because Shen Yun is from New York, and indeed, cannot even perform in China, let alone be “from” there.[19] Almost identical campaigns appeared in Reno, Omaha, St. Louis, and Philadelphia around the same time, with local news outlets issuing stories debunking the claims.[20] The apparently coordinated effort originated on WeChat, a heavily censored messaging app owned by China-based company Tencent that is widely used among the Chinese diaspora. Discussions on the app revealed that users were organizing plans to stop Shen Yun from performing in U.S. cities using these false claims and even outlining plans to call the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).[21] Similar campaigns have appeared on Facebook in the areas surrounding Shen Yun’s training center in Orange County, NY. False claims and conspiracy theories about COVID infection among Shen Yun performers and Falun Gong practitioners have also been spread via financial newswires like YorkPedia or conspiracy websites, an emerging CCP disinformation tactic researchers have referred to as “content laundering.”[22]

  3. Dissemination of false narratives about Falun Gong and Shen Yun via Western media companies. The most direct such example was a paid insert by the Chinese state-owned newspaper China Daily that was published in January 2017 in mainstream newspapers throughout the United States, Europe, and Australia, including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The London Telegraph. The article title refers to Shen Yun falsely as “A Blasphemy that Masquerades as Art” and appears to the undiscerning eye as a regular article written by the local newspaper, part of a longer running campaign by the CCP to insert state-run content in global news outlets.[23]

    More recently, the CCP’s tactic has shifted to promoting carefully attuned claims about Falun Gong that relate to sensitive topics in the West, which entices some Western media companies to adopt these narratives in attacking Shen Yun by association. Examples of this include the false accusation that Falun Gong is racist because it “forbids interracial marriage.” This narrative first appeared in English language versions of Chinese government websites (this narrative is noticeably absent from the disinformation about Falun Gong spread inside China where race relations is not a dominant social issue).[24] It was picked up by several small or specialized outlets before appearing in some mainstream Western media publications. The only source for such accusations is CCP propaganda and statements made by a few disgruntled individuals. Reality tells a very different story. In Falun Gong communities around the world, interracial marriages and mixed-race children are commonplace, with spouses in interracial marriages serving in prominent Falun Gong roles, such as community representatives, or as principal dancers, musicians, or key staff in Shen Yun. International news reports that repeat preferred CCP talking points about Shen Yun are often translated into Chinese or other languages and used as part of the regime’s domestic and global propaganda, appearing on local government or embassy websites.[25]

  • Special focus on the United States: 36 out of the 135 documented incidents targeting Shen Yun occurred in the United States—more than any other country. In 13 of these 36 incidents, a Chinese diplomat was directly involved in applying pressure on a theater, a government official, or sponsor to stop a Shen Yun performance or to prevent attendance at a show. In three other cases, a Chinese state-owned news outlet, a Chinese government-sponsored dance company, or proxy, such as a Chinese student association, engaged in behavior that slandered Shen Yun or discouraged Americans from attending a performance. For example, in Little Rock, Seattle, and St. Louis, among other cities, Chinese consular officials applied pressure on theaters to cancel performances, including by threatening damage to U.S.-China relations or implying economic reprisals. In 2022, a theater worker in one city told a Shen Yun production crewmember that the Chinese consulate sends a letter of complaint to the theater every year after Shen Yun leaves.[26] In five other incidents—in cities such as San Francisco and Denver—individuals posed as practitioners and wrote seemingly crazy letters to theater managers in a deceptive tactic to discourage them from wishing to work with the local Falun Dafa Association to book Shen Yun performances.
  • Physical and cyber attacks: Other incidents in the United States involved dangerous vehicle tampering, targeted burglaries, and cyberattacks, whereby attribution directly back to Chinese officials is more challenging but where the tactics fit within the broader pattern of transnational repression techniques used by the CCP.[27] In cities like Chicago, Atlanta, and Fort Worth, Shen Yun performers, staff, and volunteers returned to vehicles that had slashed tires or corrosive chemicals poured over the brakes; some attacks occurred within days of each other and at the same time as similar incidents in Canada, implying a multi-country coordinated attack.
  • Targeting Shen Yun training center in New York: Shen Yun’s training center is located on a 400-acre campus in upstate New York called Dragon Springs. The campus also houses two accredited academic institutions—Fei Tian Academy of the Arts and Fei Tian College. According to leaked CCP documents, targeting this campus for surveillance, espionage, and legal harassment is a priority for the CCP.[28] The campus has faced vandalism, frequent spying via drones, frivolous lawsuits, and localized social media campaigns spreading falsehoods. In an unprecedented case, on May 26, 2023, federal U.S. prosecutors charged two Chinese men with attempting to bribe an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) official in New York to target Shen Yun Performing Arts.[29]
  • US government response: The response of the U.S. government to this aggressive campaign of censorship targeting an American non-profit has been mixed. Many individual officials and agencies have rebuffed CCP pressure or publicly expressed support for Shen Yun, but there has been no comprehensive strategy to support Shen Yun by the federal government, especially entities like the White House or the U.S. Department of State. On the positive side, the State Department has included nine incidents of the CCP targeting Shen Yun in its annual reports on international religious freedom, and ambassadors have occasionally raised the issue with local officials.[30] The above-mentioned May 2023 arrest demonstrates that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and possibly other law enforcement agencies are actively investigating known CCP agents or proxies working to target Shen Yun.
  • Periodic concessions to pressure: In at least 25 known cases, Chinese diplomatic pressures or other Beijing-driven incentives have succeeded in preventing a Shen Yun performance—including by provoking last minute cancelations—in countries as diverse as Greece, Moldova, Ecuador, and Malaysia.[31] In 2017, Shen Yun was scheduled to perform in Thailand for the first time. But after the Chinese embassy sent letters to the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Culture threatening that bilateral relations would be damaged should the performance take place, Bangkok’s Askra Theatre canceled the show days before it was scheduled to occur.[32]
  • Concerning trend in South Korea: South Korea has long been a key focus for the CCP’s interference efforts with Shen Yun performances, as evidenced from it being the site of 19 out of 135 documented incidents, second only to the United States. Theater management and government officials in the country have been inconsistent in their responses to CCP pressure, pushing back and upholding contracts with Shen Yun in some cases, while caving to demands and canceling performances in others.[33] In 2016 the Chinese embassy is Seoul successfully pressured KBS Hall into canceling a scheduled performance.[34] When the contract-breaching cancelation was taken to court, the judge initially ruled in favor of Shen Yun. But two days before the performance, the court overturned its decision, claiming that the reality of potential lost business with the Chinese government outweighed the freedom of expression entitled to Shen Yun; the show was thus canceled. Since then, the situation in South Korea has only worsened, and theaters have increasingly refused to sign contracts allowing Shen Yun to perform.[35]

  • Shen Yun’s hard-won success: Despite the CCP’s aggressive sabotage campaign, Shen Yun has expanded dramatically since 2007 and has achieved remarkable success during a challenging period for the performing arts industry. Today, Shen Yun has eight dance troupes and orchestras who tour the world simultaneously, often to sold-out audiences. During the 2023 season, Shen Yun performed in more than 150 cities across five continents, receiving rave reviews from fellow musicians, artists, lawmakers, government officials, and members of the Chinese diaspora. These achievements demonstrate the market demand for Shen Yun’s performances and the potentially even greater success the non-profit would enjoy in the absence of Beijing’s campaign against it.

  • Democratic pushback: Many theater managers, owners, and government officials who have been on the receiving end of Chinese diplomats’ threats and co-optation efforts have rebuffed them, asserting the rights to free expression in a democratic society. There have been 43 incidents of such principled pushback, documented in 19 countries, including the United States, Denmark, and The Netherlands. In other cases, despite initial hesitation from theater managers to sign a contract with Shen Yun, thanks to court decisions in the group’s favor or ongoing communication with staff clarifying what Shen Yun is and the motivations behind the Chinese regime’s pressure, theaters have reversed course and ultimately invited Shen Yun to perform.

    • In one incident in the Dominican Republic in February 2023, the Chinese embassy offered the manager of the Grand Theater of Cibao a bribe and made promises of future investments. The theater manager then contacted the Shen Yun presenter claiming that the shows needed to be canceled due to theater renovations. The presenter reported the incident to the Ministry of Culture which overrode the cancelation. The Chinese embassy then began contacting various legislators seeking their help to cancel the performances. Having learned that Dominican President Luis Abinader was set to depart from Las Americas International Airport, the Chinese ambassador and consul general tracked down the president. They warned him that not canceling the shows would negatively impact the countries’ relationship and that the PRC would discontinue an investment of over 100 million dollars. Still, the president refused to comply and the shows took place as scheduled.[36]

“There is freedom of expression in Denmark, and we intend to uphold it.

– Local theater manager responding in writing to Chinese embassy in Copenhagen after diplomats demanded it not honor a rental contract with Shen Yun, 2016

Despite the encouraging and principled responses of many democratic governments and theater managers, a more comprehensive and proactive response is needed, not only for Shen Yun’s sake. The CCP’s campaign against Shen Yun is a test case for how well the United States and its democratic allies are able to protect free expression from the CCP’s authoritarian manipulation and enable audiences worldwide to choose for themselves whether they want to see an artistic performance that is reviving traditional Chinese culture, which the CCP wishes to suppress. It is vital to set a precedent that such a campaign against an artistic initiative of the Chinese diaspora, which challenges the CCP’s narratives, is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

Recommendations to the U.S. government

  1. Issue public statements of support: U.S. officials at all levels should issue public statements in support of Shen Yun and the principles of artistic freedom and freedom of expression—including when the troupe encounters interference in other countries. Such action sends a clear message that the U.S. stands behind its values and the organizations that embody them, thereby effectively encouraging allies to resist CCP influence efforts. Local and state officials should encourage theaters to uphold their contracts and should make it known to theaters that they have the government’s support in rebuffing threats from Chinese diplomats.

  2. View a Shen Yun performance: U.S. officials, members of Congress, and elected representatives in locales where pressure tactics from Chinese diplomats have been applied, should watch a Shen Yun performance. This enables elected representatives to judge for themselves the merits and content of the performance, enabling a more informed perspective in the face of future CCP pressure. In addition, given the regime’s dedicated efforts to prevent or discourage officials from seeing the show, attendance in itself constitutes a principled form of pushback against such authoritarian influence. Many current and former lawmakers and officials from across the political spectrum have already done so, often remarking publicly on their positive experience and the inspiring content of the show.[37]

  3. Increase diplomatic accountability and engagement: The U.S. State Department should issue formal demarches against Chinese diplomatic personnel in the United States that engage in efforts to stop Shen Yun from performing. If the individual diplomat’s identity is not known, then the Chinese ambassador or relevant Consul General should be held accountable. When issuing credentials to incoming Chinese diplomats, the Department of State should check whether they had engaged in efforts to stop Shen Yun performances at their previous posts; if such actions are detected, the government should reject their placement in the United States. Outside the United States, top American officials and embassy personnel should urge counterparts in countries that are facing CCP pressure related to Shen Yun to resist it and should positively recognize and thank those who indeed stand firmly in support of artistic expression. The U.S. Department of State should continue to monitor incidents of CCP interference in Shen Yun performances and include detailed reporting on such activities in their annual reports on human rights and religious freedom.The department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs should meet with Shen Yun representatives and consider options for recognizing Shen Yun as a cultural ambassador of the United States in the context of the Arts Envoy or other relevant programs.

  4. Enhance law enforcement action and protections: Law enforcement and other relevant agencies should build upon actions taken to date—such as the May 2023 arrests—and further enhance monitoring, as well as investigations or prosecution (when relevant) of individuals or entities in the United States found to be involved in illegal activities that suppress or violently attack Shen Yun performers or vehicles on tour or its training center in New York. Internal CCP documents have listed the training center as a priority target, while demonization and disinformation surrounding Shen Yun incite hatred against the group and the training center, rendering them vulnerable to hate crimes. Indeed, there have already occurred incidents of strangers stopping at the gates of Dragon Springs and making hostile gestures, as well as a situation where law enforcement took action against a Chinese man hostile to Shen Yun who had threatened the facilities.Protecting the company and its performers should be a similar priority for local and federal U.S. law enforcement. 

[1] “New to Shen Yun?,” Shen Yun Performing Arts, accessed January 3, 2024,

[2] “What is Falun Gong?,” Falun Dafa Information Center, accessed January 3, 2024,

[3] “Violent Suppression of 100 Million People,” Falun Dafa Information Center, accessed January 3, 2024, 

[4] “Shen Yun ‘Reminds Me of Why I Chose to Study China,’ Professor Says,” The Epoch Times, March 15, 2018, -of-why-i-chose-to-study-china-professor-says-2-2467005.

[5] “Internal Communist Party Documents Disclose New Campaign to Forcibly ‘Transform’ Millions of Falun Gong Practitioners in China,” Falun Dafa Information Center, October 24, 2010,

[6] “关于加强防范“法轮功”欺骗拉拢国内文艺人才的通知(市教监字〔2010〕12)号[Notice on Strengthening the Prevention of “Falun Gong” Deception and Soliciting Domestic Literary and Artistic Talents (Municipal Education and Supervision Zi [2010] No. 12)],” Jinzhong City Education Network, July 7, 2010, Document on file with the Falun Dafa Information Center.

[7] Jinzhong City Education Network, 2010.

[8] Speech by the Director of the 610 Office of the Xianyang Municipal Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), August 27, 2010. Document on file with the Falun Dafa Information Center.

[9] China Media Bulleting, Freedom House, Issue No. 133, February 2019,; “Theatergoers Upset After Spain Shen Yun Shows Canceled Due to Suspected Beijing Pressure,” February 1, 2019,; Leeshai Lemish, “Incidents & Evidence,” Who’s Afraid of Shen Yun (blog), 2023,

[10] Zhang Leyao, “Chinese Consulate in Houston Tries to Block Shen Yun in Arkansas,” The Epoch Times, October 1, 2015,

[11] See above: “Incidents & Evidence,” Who’s Afraid of Shen Yun (blog).

[12] Ibid. 

[13] Karina Suárez, “‘Shen Yun’: 80 bailarines, la sombra de una secta y el intento de un bloqueo diplomático en México,” [‘Shen Yun’: 80 dancers, the shadow of a sect and the attempted diplomatic blockade in Mexico], El Pais, May 21, 2022,; Ellie Young and Jessica Ludwig, “Mexico,” in Cook, Datt, Young, Han, Beijing’s Global Media Influence, Freedom House, 2022,; Eva Fu, “Chinese Embassy Pressures Local Officials to Block Shen Yun Performances in Mexico,” The Epoch Times, May 14, 2022,

[14] Mei Xuan, “XUAN: An empty seat, a broken heart,” The Washington Times, July 21, 2010,; “Mother of Steven and Lydia Wang,” Falun Dafa Information Center, accessed January 3, 2024,

[15] Jinzhong City Education Network, 2010.

[16] “Sixty Falun Gong Practitioners Arrested for Distributing Shen Yun DVDs,” Minghui, May 11, 2014,

[17] David Ownby, Falun Gong and the Future of China (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008).

Falun Gong and the Future of China (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008).

[18] “Shen Yun ‘Reminds Me of Why I Chose to Study China,’ Professor Says,” The Epoch Times, March 15, 2018, -of-why-i-chose-to-study-china-professor-says-2-2467005.

[19] “Chinese Agents Use Coronavirus Fears to Attack US-based Shen Yun,” Falun Dafa Information Center, February 26, 2020,

[20] Blake Montgomery, “Coronavirus Is Spreading. So Are Bogus Fears of Shen Yun,” Daily Beast, February 26, 2020,; KMTV Staff, “Coronavirus rumors surround Shen Yun performances,” KMTV, February 25, 2020,

[21] See blog entries for February 26-29: Leeshai Lemish, “Not Buying It,” On Tour Daily Diary (blog), February 26, 2020,; Leeshai Lemish, “Going After Us With a Virus?,” On Tour Daily Diary (blog), February 27, 2020,; Leeshai Lemish, “CCP Girl Talk,” On Tour Daily Diary (blog), February 29, 2020,

[22] York Pedia article from 2020 on file with the Falun Dafa Information Center. Regarding the CCP’s broader use of this tactic see: Sarah Cook, “China’s Increasingly Aggressive Tactics for Foreign Disinformation Campaigns,” The Diplomat, September 18, 2023, -foreign-disinformation-campaigns/.

[23] Larry Ong, “Paid Insert in Wall Street Journal Carries Chinese Propaganda,” The Epoch Times,; See above: “Incidents & Evidence,” Who’s Afraid of Shen Yun.

[24] “Conflicts between Falun Gong teachings and western moral & ethic principles,” Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China in Chicago, November 2, 2009,“Conflicts between Falun Gong teachings and western moral & ethic principles,” Consulate

-General of the People’s Republic of China in Chicago, November 2, 2009,

[25] “Conocer a ‘Falun Gong’, Secta Destructiva detrás de ‘Shen Yun’ [Meet ‘Falun Gong’, Destructive Sect Behind “Shen Yun”],” Embajada de la Republica Popular China en los Estados Unidos Mexicanos, May 12, 2023,; “澳媒:神韵晚会夹杂着过多的政治色彩[Australian media: Shen Yun performance is too political],” August 24, 2017, Wugong County People’s Government Office,; “’神韵晚会’真相[The Truth About ‘Shen Yun’],” Consulat Général de la République Populaire de Chine à Marseille, February 21, 2023,

[26] See above: “Incidents & Evidence,” Who’s Afraid of Shen Yun.

[27] Nate Schenkkan and Isabel Linzer, “China: Transnational Repression Origin Country Case study,” Out of Sight, Not Out of Reach: The Global Scale and Scope of Transnational Repression, Freedom House, February 2, 2021,

[28] (河南)省委防范和处理邪教问题领导小组 2017年工作要点2017-03-31 (简称“豫”)Key Points in the 2017 Work of Leading Group for Prevention and Handling of Xie Jiao-related Issues of CCP (Henan) Provincial Committee, March 31, 2017, posted via Association for the Defense of Human Rights and Religious Freedom,

[29] Office of Public Affairs, “Illegal Agents of the PRC Government Charged for PRC-Directed Bribery Scheme,” United States Department of Justice, May 26, 2023,; “US Government Charges CCP Agents for Bribery Scheme Targeting Falun Gong,” Falun Dafa Information Center, May 27, 2023,

[30] Multiple incidents are listed in reports on South Korea and Japan. U.S. Department of State, “2020 Report on International Religious Freedom: South Korea,” May 12, 2021,; U.S. Department of State, “2020 Report on International Religious Freedom: Japan,” May 12, 2021,; U.S. Department of State, “2020 Report on International Religious Freedom: Moldova,” May 12, 2021,; U.S. Department of State, “2019 Report on International Religious Freedom: Japan,” June 10, 2020,; U.S. Department of State, “2019 Report on International Religious Freedom: South Korea,” June 10, 2020,; U.S. Department of State, “2019 Report on International Religious Freedom: Peru,” June 10,; U.S. Department of State, “2017 Report on International Religious Freedom: Vietnam,” 2018,!; U.S. Department of State, “2016 Report on International Religious Freedom: South Korea,” 2017,

[31] Leeshai Lemish, “Chinese Business Behind Greek Censorship?,” Who’s Afraid of Shen Yun (blog), May 26, 2010,; U.S. Department of State, “2020 Report on International Religious Freedom: Moldova,” May 12, 2021,; Leeshai Lemish, “Who locked us out of Moldova’s theater?,” Who’s Afraid of Shen Yun (blog), May 28, 2010,; “Dance performance canceled in Ecuador under pressure from Chinese embassy,” IFEX, May 26, 2015,; See more on the incident in Malaysia in “Incidents & Evidence,” Who’s Afraid of Shen Yun (blog).

[32] Larry Ong, “Chinese Embassy Letter Exposes Effort to Block Shen Yun in Thailand,” The Epoch Times, May 25, 2017,

[33] U.S. Department of State, “2020 Report on International Religious Freedom: South Korea,” May 12, 2021,; U.S. Department of State, “2016 Report on International Religious Freedom: South Korea,” 2017,

[34] Sarah Cook, “The Long Arm of Chinese Censorship Reaches South Korea,” The Diplomat, May 9, 2016

[35] Leeshai Lemish, “Lots of Difficulties in South Difficulties in South Korea,” Who’s Afraid of Shen Yun (blog), June 12, 2023,; Leeshai Lemish, “South Korea Update,” Who’s Afraid of Shen Yun (blog), June 12, 2023,; Kim Gwang-ju, “’We hope that politicians and public officials in Busan will not attend Falun Gong events’ (Consulate General of China in Busan),” Chosun, accessed January 4, 2024,

[36] Leeshai Lemish, “Dominican: Chasing the President to the Airport?,” Who’s Afraid of Shen Yun? (blog), March 20, 2023,

[37] Examples include Congresswoman Michelle Steel (R-CA), David Stillwell, former Assistant Secretary for East Asia and the Pacific at the State Department, and Richard Swett, former Congressman (D-NH) and U.S. Ambassador to Denmark. Michelle Steel, “Defending Democracy: Urgent Call to Support Shen Yun in South Korea,” The Epoch Times, November 20, 2023,; “Former Asst. Secretary of State of East Asian and Pacific Bureau Applauds Shen Yun,” NTD, January 26, 2023,; Weiyong Zhu, “Former Congressman, Ambassador Sees Shen Yun Multiple Times: ‘It’s Always Enjoyable’,” The Epoch Times, December 28, 2022,