High School Student Harassed, Threatened after Internet Posting about Falun Gong

NEW YORK – A 16-year-old who used his real name when writing online about health benefits received from practicing Falun Gong is being harassed and at risk of detention, the Falun Dafa Information Center recently learned.

According to sources inside China, the family of high school student Qu Jianguo (???) from Hebei Province has been under tight surveillance and is at risk of detention and abuse after the boy wrote online about his personal experience of recovering from bone cancer through practicing Falun Gong.

Shortly after the authorities took note of Jianguo’s story on an overseas Falun Gong website, the 610 office, an extralegal Communist Party taskforce that has led the campaign against Falun Gong, began harassing his family and attempting to force Jianguo to recant his testimony. Residents in nearby towns report being questioned by local authorities as to whether Jianguo had assistance in posting his story online. As a result of the growing pressure, Jianguo’s family is refusing to receive any visitors.

“This case demonstrates how repressive and fearful the Chinese regime is when it comes to any honest, positive information about Falun Gong being made available to the Chinese people. It also illustrates the danger facing those who use their real identity to express views sympathetic to Falun Gong,” Falun Dafa Information Center spokesperson Erping Zhang  says. “Jianguo took the unusual, but courageous step, of signing his online article with his real name. Perhaps he believed that the Communist Party would not go after a 15-year-old recovering cancer patient. He was wrong.”

“Should Jianguo be detained, he would be the youngest cyberdissident in China. We urge the international community to immediately pressure the Chinese authorities to cease harassment of the boy and his family.”

Dramatic recovery draws attention of local residents

In August 2009, then-15-year-old Jianguo was diagnosed with bone cancer. The boy, a resident of Laishui County in Hebei Province, had been experiencing severe pain in his legs for several weeks. As the pain intensified, his family took him to multiple local doctors. Finally, Jianguo sought help at the Jishuitan Hospital in nearby Beijing where he was diagnosed. The doctors said his condition would likely be fatal.

Jianguo was sent to the Beijing Shuili hospital to undergo chemotherapy. “Chemotherapy made me feel very bad,” wrote Jianguo in an article posted on the overseas Minghui.org website in February 2010. “All my hair fell out, and I was often nauseated and unable to eat anything. I was in pain all the time. I began to understand what it meant when people say they’d rather die than live.”

At a cost of over 150,000 Yuan, Jianguo’s family reportedly exhausted their savings to pay for the chemotherapy. His father took up a collection from their town, and even Jianguo’s school pitched in to help with the costs. But in October 2009, the money ran out. Jianguo was sent home, and his cancer persisted.

Two of Jianguo’s great aunts were practitioners of Falun Gong, however, and suggested that he look into the practice. They gave him Falun Gong books and taught him the exercise movements, and soon Jianguo was performing them diligently.

“I strictly conducted myself according to [Falun] Dafa’s principles, and my illness improved day by day,” wrote Jianguo in his online article. “I gradually became free of pain in my legs. I dared not believe that Dafa could be so powerful. I was a dying person, but I miraculously recovered. Dafa saved my life.”

Jianguo’s experience is not uncommon. Meditation, spiritual, and energy practices are widely acknowledged in China and elsewhere to bring health benefits. Specifically, in the case of Falun Gong, surveys conducted among Chinese adherents in the late 1990s and subsequent anecdotal evidence testify to widespread reports of improved health, balance, and a more positive worldview.  

So well known were Falun Gong’s health benefits in China prior to the persecution’s launch in July 1999 that five months earlier, the director of China’s State Sports Commission Wu Shaozu declared of Falun Gong: “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.”

By March, 2010, Jianguo, now 16, wrote that the pain in his legs had disappeared. He was walking normally, and was preparing to go to back to school for the first time in months.  Jianguo sent his story to an overseas Falun Gong website, Minghui.org, stating his desire to let other Chinese people know how much he had benefited from the practice. “Disregard the [Chinese Communist Party]’s lies, and know that Falun Dafa is good!” he wrote.

News of Jianguo’s recovery spread quickly through his hometown. Chinese officials worried his story was undermining a decade of official propaganda which sought to portray Falun Gong as nefarious and deserving of brutal suppression.  

Authorities at the nearby Baoding City 610 Office took note of Jianguo’s story online and ordered the Laishui County 610 Office, police, and school administrators to launch an investigation into Jianguo’s case, reportedly looking for anything that could be used to discredit his account.

“That security forces would launch such an investigation provides a telling glimpse into the Chinese regime’s attitude toward the welfare of ordinary citizens,” says Zhang. “In most societies, when a young boy overcomes a lethal disease, it is a cause for celebration, and rightfully so. In today’s China, however, the authorities’ first reaction is to mobilize three different organizations to intimidate the boy’s family and try to discredit his story.”