Freedom of Speech and the Press

Chapter 9, 2010 Annual Report

Falun Gong remains one of the most taboo topics of coverage for Chinese state-run news organizations. Falun Gong adherents have no voice in the official press, and sympathetic coverage of the issue is nonexistent. To the extent that Falun Gong did appear in the press in 2009, it was often in the context of blaming Falun Gong for anti-government protests or otherwise seeking to vilify the group.

Meanwhile, as Falun Gong adherents sought other avenues for informing fellow citizens of their plight, the authorities imprisoned numerous practitioners for possessing, producing, or distributing literature about the persecution. In other instances, adherents were taken into detention simply for talking about Falun Gong, either in public or private settings. During 2009, Chinese security agents launched crackdowns on “illegal publications,” including underground Falun Gong printing houses.


Practitioners arrested or killed for possessing, producing, or distributing information, or speaking about the suppression of Falun Gong

Given the inability of state-run Chinese media to report truthfully on the issue of Falun Gong, adherents around the country continued a strategy of producing homemade underground leaflets and DVDs with information on the practice, rights abuses, and the broader history of the Chinese Communist regime.

Despite the peaceful and constitutionally protected nature of such actions, the detention and punishment of Falun Gong adherents for possessing, preparing, or distributing such literature was widespread. A large percentage of those detained in 2008 and 2009 were arrested without a warrant from their home or workplace, often accompanied by the ransacking of their residence by police and the confiscation of computer equipment and printed materials related to Falun Gong. In other cases, practitioners were detained by police while distributing information to passersby, and were then sent to forced labor and prison camps.

Zhu Lijin, 61, Tianjin:

Ms. Zhu Lijin, a 61-year-old retired government worker and mother of a New Zealand citizen, was arrested from the streets of Tianjin on February 1, 2009 while distributing information about Falun Gong to passersby. Security agents then searched her home without a warrant, confiscating computer equipment and Falun Gong literature. Within less than two weeks, on February 16, her family was notified that she had been sentenced to one year and three months without a trial. She is currently being held at Banqiao Women’s “re-education through labor” camp. [1]

In some instances, Falun Gong practitioners have been taken into detention, tortured, and sentenced for simply speaking about the practice or the suppression. In the following three cases, the individuals died in custody within days of being detained for expressing their views about Falun Gong.

Mr. Yang Guiquan, 45, Liaoning:

According to the CECC, “In July 2009, a 45-year-old practitioner named Yang Guiquan was reportedly declared dead upon arrival at the Fuxin City Mining Corporation General Hospital in Liaoning province after being held for 16 days by police and reportedly beaten with electric batons and force-fed.” [2] Mr. Yang had been detained by police on June 20, 2009, while talking to people in a shopping mall about the persecution of Falun Gong. According to sources inside China who were able to view his body, Mr. Yang’s back and head showed bruises, and there were marks of beatings on his legs. Mr. Yang’s inner thighs also showed marks from shocks from an electric baton. [3]

Fu Ziming, 34, Hubei:

Fu was an employee of Jianli County Post Office and graduate of Zhongnan Financial and Economic University. On April 17, Fu was detained while visiting the Wuyi Mountain Scenic Area of Fujian province, a popular tourist destination in southeast China. Fu wrote in crayon on a rock “Falun Dafa is good; Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance is good.” Fu’s actions were apparently recorded by a nearby surveillance camera, and that evening, he was taken from his hotel by agents from the management department of the local police station, operating under the Wuyi Police Department.

On April 22, his family was informed that he had died in the custody of 6-10 Office agents who were transporting him back to Jianli after picking him up on April 20 from Wuyi. Following his death, security agencies – including the Public Security Bureau and the extra-legal 6-10-Office – took measures to cover it up.

The Financial Times briefly reported on Fu’s case on June 10, 2009:

“Fu Ziming, a young postal worker on holiday with his colleagues at a Unesco World Heritage Site in southeast China, was arrested after a security camera caught him writing on a rock: ‘Falun Dafa is good; truthfulness-compassion-forbearance is good,’ referring to Falun Gong by its alternative Chinese name.

Two days later, he was dead, allegedly from torture at the hands of police and state security agents, and his entire family has since been taken into custody, according to Falun Gong activists. Local officials and law enforcement agencies who allegedly dealt with his case refused to talk to the Financial Times.” [4]

Wang Meiying, Shandong:

On March 14, 2009, plainclothes policemen from the Zhenxing area followed Ms. Wang while she was distributing informational materials about the persecution of Falun Gong, and then detained her. Two days later, she was sentenced without her family’s knowledge and taken to a labor camp. While at the camp, guards reportedly tortured and force-fed her, severely injuring her right lung in the process. Six days after she was imprisoned in the Jinan Women’s RTL Camp, she was taken to the hospital for emergency treatment. She died the next day, on March 23, 2009.

Monetary rewards offered for reporting distribution of Falun Gong information

In other cases, security forces, particularly the 6-10 Office, have offered monetary incentives to citizens who report on Falun Gong adherents caught distributing literature about the group and rights abuses suffered by practitioners.

According to the 2009 CECC Annual Report:

“[A] circular from Xuanwei city [in Yunnan] offered a reward of 10,000 yuan (US$1,464) for each Falun Gong practitioner who is captured distributing ‘reactionary propaganda’ and 5,000 yuan (US$732) for informants who ‘provide clues to crack a case.’ Authorities in Anhui province’s Bengbu city credited an informant’s call for facilitating the capture of a 50-year-old disabled Falun Gong practitioner named Yu Xiaoping, who was distributing leaflets.” 

Crackdowns on “illegal publications”

Security forces in China continued to crack down on what they deemed “illegal publications,” including those promoting views sympathetic to Falun Gong.

According to the 2009 Annual Report released by the Congressional Executive Commission on China:

  • In December 2008, the General Administration of Press and Publication, a key office in China’s censorship apparatus, issued a notice “calling on customs officials to focus on ‘illegal publications’ and ‘‘Falun Gong’ … propaganda materials.’” [5]

  • “In April and May 2009, local and provincial governments across China issued notices launching a special campaign targeting ‘illegal political publications.’ The Fujian Provincial Transport Administration Department, for example, issued a notice that placed the focus on publications that ‘slandered the country’s political system, distorted the history of the Party, the country’s history, the military’s history, slandered the Party and the country’s leaders, publicized ‘Falun Gong’…, and incited ethnic splittism.’” [6]

New misinformation tactics in the state-run press

Under the tight control of the Communist Party, Chinese media outlets do not report on the persecution of Falun Gong adherents, nor provide sympathetic or objective coverage of the issue. To the extent that Falun Gong does appear in the state-run press, it is with the aim of vilifying and dehumanizing adherents, often by blaming Falun Gong for societal ills.

Although Falun Gong has not featured prominently in Chinese news reports since Hu Jintao assumed power, it is occasionally still a target for denigration. Since the Olympics last year, CCP officials have used a new tactic with increasing frequency – fabricating claims blaming Falun Gong practitioners for public outrage and protests over instances of official injustice unrelated to Falun Gong. The purpose is apparently two-fold: 1) to divert attention away from the injustice at hand; and 2) to utilize and build upon the stigma against Falun Gong to prevent those less familiar with the incident from sympathizing with its victims.

The following are two examples of incidents in 2009 in which this tactic was utilized:

  • In June 2009, protests broke out in Shishou, Hubei province, in response to the death under mysterious circumstances of a young male chef at a hotel known for its close connection with local officials. Thousands of paramilitary riot police were reportedly sent to quell the demonstrations in which the related hotel was set on fire. The state-run media aimed to portray the protests as Falun Gong-incited unrest. One local inhabitant told Reuters that the authorities informed residents that “the police had been called in to suppress gangsters and members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual group.” [7]

  • In September 2009, parents in Wugang, Hunan province, protested against pollution from a smelting plant that caused at least 1,000 children living nearby to fall ill with lead poisoning. Rather than addressing their grievances, local officials sought to use the negative stigma created against Falun Gong to discredit the parents’ appeals for justice and assistance.

According to CNN, Xiao Aijun, the father of two sick children, was angered by the government’s claims:

“’My baby’s been in the hospital for more than 20 days,’ he said of his 10-month-old daughter, Xiao Junmei. ‘We have to go back in [a] month. … They said we’re Falun Gong. What is this all about? I have no idea.’” [8]

[1] Falun Dafa Information Center, “Urgent Appeal: Elderly Tianjin Resident Sentenced to Labor Camp for Distributing Falun Gong Leaflets, at Risk of Torture,” February 27, 2009; /article/872/

[2] 2009 CECC report

[3] Falun Dafa Information Center, “Falun Gong Practitioner Killed Within Days of Arrest,” August 7, 2009; /article/897/

[4] Falun Dafa Information Center, “Mr. Fu Ziming, 34, Hubei,” April 22, 2009; /article/951/.

[5] CECC 2009, pg. 53.

[6] CECC 2009, pg. 54.

[7] Reuters, “Police retake Chinese city after riots,” June 22, 2009;

[8] CNN, “Parents of poison victims say China linking them to Falun Gong,” September 3, 2009;


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