Taiwan Officials Express Their Support of Falun Gong at the Taiwan Lantern Festival
Falun Dafa practitioners in Taiwan built a giant “Fa Boat Lantern” to contribute to the annual Taiwan Lantern Festival. The beautiful lantern, which can hold about 100 people, was displayed in Gangshan Park in the southern city of Kaohsiung during the month of February.
Over ten thousand people attended the festival and enjoyed the traditional cultural experience. Many officials, businesses, and celebrities participated in the event to ring in a new year of peace and prosperity.
Mr. Chuang Yi-Chung, who is the designer of the boat, said it took him six months to complete. “The bottom of the boat is made of 12 lotus flower petals, and on the three sails are nine Fa Wheels that rotate clockwise nine times and counterclockwise nine times. At the front of the boat is an auspicious Dragon Flag and the three flags on the masts have the Chinese characters for Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance, that emit a dazzling golden light at night.”
Political figures who attended the festival were very impressed by the boat and expressed their support. Legislator Lin Tai-Hua said, “The Fa Boat Lantern with its message ‘Falun Dafa is good, Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance is good’ is unique. With the music from the Tian Guo Marching Band and the performance from the Waist Drum Team, this is a place full of positive energy. The six-story-high boat which is lit up from the bottom to the top level, is stunning.”
Legislator Hsu Chih-Chieh said standing on the boat made him feel hopeful. “I feel hope and brightness, and believe that this boat can lead me to health, joy, and beauty, and make our world a better place. I wish more people could come and learn Falun Dafa,” he said. “Practicing Falun Dafa can improve one’s health and boost our immune systems. The principles of the practice teach positive virtues and bring positive energy, which is beneficial to society. The world embraces Falun Dafa and I support it wholeheartedly.”
Statements like these are quite common from Taiwanese officials. In Taiwan, Falun Gong has been continually recognized by the government and other civic organizations for improving moral character and contributing to Taiwanese society.
Taiwan’s incumbent president, Ms. Tsai Ing-wen, as well as all former presidents before her, have expressed their support for Falun Gong. The Taiwanese government has also condemned the persecution in China numerous times.
For example, in 2004, Legislative Yuan (congressmen) passed a bipartisan resolution that the Taiwan government “should work through suitable channels immediately and urge Chinese authorities to release arrested and/or detained Falun Gong practitioners and stop suppression against Falun Gong.”
Since then, the Legislative Yuan has also passed resolutions to block the entry of Chinese officials who have participated in the persecution and urged the Taiwan government to assist in the rescue of prisoners of conscience in China.
Though the people of Taiwan and China share the same culture, language, and history, the difference in the treatment of Falun Gong by officials in Taiwan and China is night and day. However, this was not always the case.
Before the persecution of Falun Gong began, the same sentiment was expressed by officials in China. State-run media regularly reported on the practice for its health benefits and the good citizenship it fosters.
In 1993, an article by The People’s Public Security Daily, a publication under the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, said, “[We commend Mr. Li for his contribution] in promoting the traditional crime-fighting virtues of the Chinese people, in safeguarding social order and security, and in promoting rectitude in society.”
Shanghai TV, a state-controlled TV station, ran a piece promoting the practice on July 22, 1998, almost exactly one year before Jiang Zemin initiated the persecution. The broadcast declared, “about 100 million people around the world are learning Falun Dafa.”
Even as the onset of the persecution was festering, many public officials stood by Falun Gong and continued to express admiration for it. Qiao Shi, former Politburo member, and a Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, said in conclusion of an investigation into Falun Gong that, “Falun Gong has hundreds of benefits for the Chinese people and nation, and does not a bit of harm.”
In late April, a letter by Jiang Zemin was circulated among the key Party leadership with instructions to study and implement his directives. The letter characterized Falun Gong as a state enemy, which must be monitored and controlled to protect the safety of the CCP. A May 1999 memorandum making similar points was subsequently circulated to Party members across China.
Once the persecution began in July of 1999, the CCP began a propaganda blitz to demonize the practice and drown out public support. Speaking positively about Falun Gong quickly became detrimental to the political standing of Chinese authorities.