Political in the West?
A closer look at the false claim that Falun Gong actively supports political figures in the U.S.
Over the past year, a few media outlets have published stories about the Epoch Times newspaper, alleging the paper is illicitly supporting the U.S. President and doing so, at least in part, due to the Falun Gong beliefs of its publisher.
This narrative is based entirely upon a prejudice against Falun Gong fueled both by Chinese Communist Party (CCP) propaganda and political tribalism in the U.S. Most notably, it lacks even the most basic understanding of Falun Gong beliefs.
Falun Gong has no political ties
The Falun Gong community as well as Falun Gong’s founder, Mr. Li Hongzhi, have no political ties in the U.S. or elsewhere. In fact, Mr. Li has repeatedly called upon Falun Gong practitioners to not involve the practice in politics. Of course, individuals within the Falun Gong community hold their own beliefs that span the political spectrum, from the very liberal to the very conservative, and everything in between. However, the community of practitioners does not involve itself, as a group or community, in politics, nor support any given politician.
Furthermore, if you look at the support Falun Gong has received, particularly in the United States, it is clear Falun Gong remains entirely a non-partisan issue, as it should be. <examples>
Yet, why do some media allege Falun Gong has distinct political leanings?
In some cases, the CCP is invariably instigating these allegations. For 20 years, the CCP has sought to discredit Falun Gong in Western society with the goal of marginalizing any voices that exposed the atrocities the CCP is committing against people who practice Falun Gong. These efforts include the employment of Chinese consular officials worldwide to spy on and discredit Falun Gong overseas, as well as the widespread practice of political and economic pressure on governments and corporations. This pressure is invariably exerted to force western institutions to discredit, or at the very least ignore, supportive voices for Falun Gong. Much like we’ve seen in recent months with the NBA, Hollywood, and other industries, the Western media are not outside the CCP’s pressure in this regard.
Compounding the problem, however, is a failure of many in the West, including journalists, to understand two principles that play a key role in shaping the beliefs — political or otherwise — commonly held among people who practice Falun Gong.
Let’s briefly explore these two principles.
Connection to traditional culture
The teachings of Falun Gong are rooted in traditional Chinese culture. Viewed from a Western perspective, the embracing of traditional Chinese culture could be mistaken for social conservatism as it’s understood in the West, but that viewpoint is mistaken.
To understand the ideas and principles maintained by many in the Falun Gong community, you have to look at the values of traditional Chinese culture. For example, within the Falun Gong community, you may find ideals such as the importance of faith and harmonizing family relationships, and wrongly conclude these are “social conservative” ideas, when in fact, they are rooted in a much broader set of ideals that are far better understood within the context of Confucianism — a philosophy that emphasizes symbiotic relationships that are “in harmony” with heaven and earth.
Another example: within the Falun Gong community, you may find ideals centered around living in harmony with nature/the environment, and wrongly conclude these are “liberal” ideas stemming from the modern environmental movement, when in fact, they are, again, rooted in a much different set of ideals found in traditional Chinese culture that espouses living according to “the Tao.”
In short, to judge Falun Gong practitioners as politically conservative or liberal is entirely misleading. You’d be missing the forest for the trees, and then some.
Experiencing the tyranny of communism
Among Falun Gong practitioners are millions of people who lived through the rise and rule of the CCP. That is, 70 years in which tens of millions of Chinese people died at the hands of the communist regime.
Most recently and specifically, Falun Gong practitioners became the principal target of the CCP, and for the last 20 years, have experienced first-hand the terror unleashed by the CCP — millions of families have been torn apart by wrongful detentions, imprisonment, torture, and killing. It is this experience that has shown us, in no uncertain terms, that the tyranny of the CCP constitutes a paramount threat not only to the Chinese people, but everywhere the CCP’s reach may extend. Therefore, we remain wary of both CCP influence in the West as well as socialist and communist elements taking root in Western society.
We are wary because we’ve seen very clearly where it leads. The deaths of so many of our family and friends remain fresh in our minds.
Principles, Not Politics
Bringing together the above two principles — a foundation in traditional Chinese culture and a defensive posture against the tyranny of communism — some common themes found in the values and beliefs held by many Falun Gong practitioners become clear. But these are not beliefs stemming from political leanings, and so do not entirely align with any political party or philosophy.
In other words, many in the Falun Gong community support principles, not parties or politicians, per se.
To the extend that any government protects our rights to experience and maintain traditional culture, or actively opposes communist influences, you will likely see many Falun Gong practitioners applaud.
To the extend that any government official espouses values that disconnect us with wholesome traditional culture or fails to address the threat of communism, you will likely see many Falun Gong practitioners express their concerns.
Witnessing these reactions, especially in the current, highly-divided political environment found in the U.S. (and indeed throughout the western world), some in the media have wrongly concluded Falun Gong either “supports the President” or is “against the President.”
Both of these conclusions miss the mark.
We are people typically united by our connection with traditional Chinese culture, our first-hand experience of communist tyranny, and by our belief that Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance are the fundamental qualities of our universe — qualities we aspire to develop in ourselves.
We have never, nor will we ever, compromise on these principles to support or oppose any political party or figure.
And you can quote us on that.