Transnational repression is a potent tool of the Chinese Communist Party, used to threaten the freedom and democratic rights of dissent. The CCP currently directs the most targeted, oppressive, and comprehensive campaign of transnational repression in the world against Falun Gong practitioners.
According to leaked Chinese Communist Party documents, congressional testimonies from former Chinese diplomats, and third-party investigations, the CCP has enacted operations around the world to silence, marginalize, and suppress Falun Gong since the launch of the persecution in 1999.
Within the past two years, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has launched more overt campaigns to suppress the Falun Gong diaspora around the world. This is apparent through street violence, attempts at soft power subversion, and attacks on media outlets and organizations founded by Falun Gong practitioners. These operations continue today.
First-hand CCP documents show that the transnational repression of Falun Gong practitioners is an orchestrated campaign and top priority of the Chinese Communist Party authorities.
The directive below details the Chinese regime’s strategy of maligning, silencing, and suppressing Falun Gong outside China. “Treat the countries and regions with serious ‘Falun Gong’ activities such as the United States as the main battlefield,” commands Meng Jianzhu, then a member of the CCP Central Committee and head of the PLAC.
Actions against Falun Gong overseas have featured:
- Physical assaults
- Online monitoring and surveillance
- Cyberattacks, database collection, and blacklist from traveling to China
- Diplomatic pressure and propaganda
- Obstruction and isolation of Falun Gong practitioners in their communities
- Threats on foreign businesses related or amicable with Falun Gong
- Manipulation and coercion of media to publish anti-Falun Gong columns
- Pressure and threaten human rights leaders, event organizers, persecution testifiers
- Threats and harassment of activists’ family members
- United front activities and cultural exchanges
- Hinderances of Falun Gong events and clubs on school campuses and universities
- and more
In each Chinese mission overseas there must be at least one official in charge of Falun Gong affairs. The head and the deputy head of the mission will be responsible for the Falun Gong affairs. I am aware of there being more than 1,000 Chinese secret agents and informants residing in Australia, and they have partaken in efforts to persecute the Falun Gong. The number in the United States should be higher.”
— Former Chinese consul Chen Yonglin testifying before Congress
Around the world, Falun Gong practitioners are targeted by the Chinese Communist Party for their faith. This phenomena is not limited to refugees who have fled China. Citizens of other nations around the world are also impacted. The repression and large range of intimidation tactics felt by Falun Gong refugees who fled China to escape this persecution includes the following:
1. Threats– governments reaching across borders to silence dissent among diasporas and exiles.
2. Assault– physical attacks and battery of Falun Gong practitioners outside of China and their personal belongings.
3. Refugee Espionage– efforts by state authorities to spy on and control people living overseas.
NOTE: The following are a small sample of the most egregious and prominent cases documented over the past 23 years.
American citizens and residents who practice Falun Gong have faced harassment, heckling, death threats, and physical violence, often from thugs with ties to pro-Beijing “associations.” U.S. government officials, from small town mayors to members of Congress and White House officials, have received pressure, sometimes threats, from Chinese diplomats not to support Falun Gong.
The following are just a few sample cases…
February 2023: Information booth volunteer David Fang was assaulted until he bled by 77-year-old Zhongping Qi, who has a history of verbally abusing Falun Gong booth volunteers. This incident in February was only the latest in a series of incidents where Qi had targeted practitioners. He often cursed and made unprovoked slurs towards the volunteers at the Falun Gong information booths. NYPD arrested him and charged Qi with third degree assault for the incident.
February 2022: CCP ally, 32-year-old Zheng Buqiu, began vandalizing a Falun Gong booth outside Queens Public Library where he tore down a poster before being stopped by volunteers. For a week straight, Zheng destroyed booths across Flushing by punching and kicking display boards, knocking over tables with informational booklets, and breaking their portable speaker by stomping on it.
The attacks continued at three different information booth locations until NYPD officers arrested Zheng on Feb. 15. Police charged him with criminal mischief in the fourth degree and a hate crime, each of which could land him up to a year in jail. One booth volunteer said that Zheng was seen with Li Huahong, the president of an “anti-cult” group linked to the 610 Office, who has herself been arrested four times since 2008 by NYPD for vandalizing Falun Gong booths, indicating Zheng was not acting alone.
May 2008: Over the course of several days, pro-Beijing mobs harassed and physically assaulted Falun Gong practitioners in the streets of Flushing, New York City. Then-PRC Consul General in NYC, Peng Keyu, was later caught on tape claiming he secretly instructed Chinese “community” groups to carry out the attacks. 16 of the attackers were arrested.
February 2006: Peter Yuan Li was assaulted and robbed by armed Asian men in his Atlanta home. Li was an information technology specialist who had been active in Falun Gong human rights advocacy for over six years. Around noon, an Asian man, feigning a water delivery, appeared on Li’s doorstep.
Before Li knew it, two men had forced their way in, pulled out a gun and knife, and wrapped him up in a blanket, attempting to suffocate him. They then used duct tape to cover his mouth, eyes, and ears, and an extension cord to tie up his arms and legs. The men beat him severely about the head and face, probably with the butt of the gun, Li said. He bled profusely.
Moments later he heard one to two other men enter his home and one of them spoke Mandarin Chinese. Half an hour later, they left. They had overturned his file cabinets and stolen two laptop computers and potentially other important documents, Li says, but no valuables. The wounds on Li’s face required 15 stitches.
Canada, like the United States, is home to many Chinese citizens and residents who practice Falun Gong. Similarly, the Chinese Communist Party attempts to control and oppress the communities in the region.
“The repression against Falun Gong extends to Canadian soil…“Ketty Nivyabandi, the Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada
The following are just a few sample cases…
June 2019: When Falun Gong practitioner Gerry Smith attended the 2019 annual Dragon Boat Festival in a public park in Ottawa, the festival’s CEO ordered him to take off a shirt with words ‘Falun Dafa’ (another name for Falun Gong) and the principles of the spiritual practice: ‘Truthfulness, Benevolence, Forbearance.’ The CEO of the event said the Chinese Embassy was a sponsor of their event and that his shirt was an “inappropriate political statement.” The CEO also said seven to eight other Falun Gong practitioners who were doing the meditation exercises in the same park needed to leave.
A Chinese-language article about the incident was posted on websites inside China, labeling Falun Gong practices as being political and unwelcome at an event in Canada. The reports quoted the Festival’s CEO and repeated anti-Falun Gong propaganda.
August 1999: William Wang, an aircraft design engineer, went to Beijing for the third time to appeal against the CCP’s persecution of Falun Gong with several other practitioners. A couple of days later, they were reported and then abducted by officers from Beijing’s Fengtai District Police Department. They were handcuffed all the way back to their hometown.
Mr. Wang said that even after he came to Canada, he could still feel the pressure of the persecution. Shortly after arriving in Canada, the CCP police called and threatened Mr. Wang’s father. They said Mr. Wang would lose his job and have no career if he ever returned to China if he continued to practice Falun Gong in Canada. This tactic of pressuring is common and widespread form of reprisal faced by Falun Gong practitioners across the world.
Beijing’s influence in Australia is not unprecedented. For years, scholars and lawmakers have issued warnings about growing CCP presence in the region. In correlation, the Chinese regime’s attempts to oppress the Falun Gong community in Australia are also increasingly bold.
The Chinese Consulate in Western Australia has contacted the city of Perth on many occasions, attempting to persuade officials to stop the city from issuing permits to Falun Gong practitioners for their activities and demonstrations.
According to a report by the local WAtoday newspaper in February 2020, the Chinese Consulate frequently contacts the city’s executive management team to complain about Falun Gong events in the city, but officials have always rejected these requests. The city of Perth has continued to issue permits for Falun Gong practitioners’ activities because they have always complied with the law.
In 2018, the Chinese Consulate made another attempt to have Falun Gong barred from participating in the Perth Christmas parade, but was exposed by Australian media. Falun Gong practitioners have participated in every annual parade since 2008, but for the first time they were forbidden from wearing any outfits that would identify them as “Falun Gong.” Following this incident, in December 2021, the Falun Gong community in Perth was banned entirely from participating in the Perth Christmas Pageant. Even though the organizers (billionaire Kerry Stokes’s Seven West Media) originally invited the Falun Gong practitioners, their participation pass was revoked ten days later.
Seven organizers reportedly told the group that the pageant was apolitical, and the presence of Falun Gong could result in the “airing of international political issues.” The email read, “The pageant is not a forum for those involved in such issues to be represented, and it gives rise to potential conflict and security issues for the event.” By restricting Falun Gong practitioners’ participation, on the false pretense that their meditation and traditional Chinese outfits were “political,” the organizers effectively discriminated against a persecuted religious minority and silenced their voices outside China. The Chinese consulate’s efforts to influence Australian politics and silence dissenting voices within the local Chinese community are part of a larger pattern in the country, well-documented in recent years.
The following constitutes what is widely considered the most violent and barbaric act of Chinese state suppression against Falun Gong practitioners in Africa since 1999. This heinous incident sent a message that would echo until present day— the CCP will commit any felony in their attempts to silence Falun Gong.
June 2004: During the South Africa visit of Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong and Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai, nine Falun Gong practitioners from Australia, including David Liang, flew to South Africa to help local practitioners hold a press conference to expose the crimes of the two officials to the people and media of South Africa, and to have legal papers served against them.
While en route from the Johannesburg airport to Pretoria around 8:30 PM on June 28, 2004, a white car with three occupants overtook David’s car and fired at least five shots with an AK-47 at their vehicle. David Liang, the driver, was hospitalized with bullet wounds and his car was disabled in the incident. He would take nearly a year to walk again.
This unusual attack is suspected to be orchestrated by the visiting Chinese Communist Party officials– Zeng and Bo are known to be responsible for murder and torture of Falun Gong practitioners in China. More information in the article below.
The United Kingdom is home to many courageous Falun Gong practitioners and refugees. In particular, practitioners in London are renown for their peaceful appeals in front of the Chinese embassy, which they have held nonstop, 24/7 since 2002.
Over the course of April and May 2021, He Renyong came to the Falun Gong booth in London’s Chinatown with several other people, threatening to kill and beat up the volunteer practitioners; he also spit on them. On one occasion, he threw a can of soda pop at a Falun Dafa practitioner named Peng, hitting him in the calf. Members of the public who witnessed He Renyong’s violent behavior called the police. When they arrived, the instigators with He ran off, leaving He to be handcuffed and taken away alone in a police vehicle.
The case was heard in a local Westminster court on February 3, 2022. He Renyong denied the charges and claimed he was instigated. Police invited two practitioners to give testimony and played the video recording of He’s assault in Chinatown. The Westminster court in the U.K. sentenced He Renyong to 16 weeks in prison for assaulting and harassing Falun Dafa practitioners in Chinatown. He was charged with threatening, abusive, humiliating speech, and action, harassment, beating, and assault.
On Aug 23, 2022, when Falun Gong practitioners held activities to raise awareness of the persecution (with approved permit from Paris police) on China street in the 3rd district of Paris, an ethnic-Chinese man violently disrupted the event by tearing down a Falun Gong practitioners’ banner. He also moved trash cans to be in front of practitioners’ other banners. He yelled: “you can’t be here. The Chinese embassy is here.”
Yleisradio (Yle), Finland’s national radio company, published an article on May 21, 2020, outlining some of the ways the Chinese Communist Party is spying on Chinese ex-pats in Finland, titled “Under the Watchful Eye of China” (Kiinan Valvonvan Silmän). Spying activities by a foreign power against its former or current citizens are referred to as “refugee espionage.” The Finnish Security and Intelligence Service (SUPO) have documented incidents of Chinese spies monitoring and harassing Falun Gong practitioners, supporters of the Hong Kong demonstrations, Tibetans, and Uyghurs living in Finland.
One victim was Jin Zhaoyu, a Falun Gong practitioner who has lived in Lapland in northern Finland since 2008. She campaigned in Finland against the human rights violations in China for years, especially when her mother was jailed in China because of her Falun Gong practice. Because of her peaceful activities, she has been on the receiving end of harassment by people affiliated with the Chinese Embassy in Finland. Yle said that Jin’s efforts to rescue her mother and other detained practitioners garnered media attention. Her story was run in Helsingin Sanomat, the largest subscription newspaper in Finland. Amnesty International also showed support for Jin’s rescue efforts and considered her mother a prisoner of conscience.
After Jin’s mother was released in 2015, she was able to join her daughters in Finland with the help of Amnesty International. Though five years have passed since her mother was released, Jin is still being harassed. Her tourism company, which provides nature experiences, including Northern Lights trips and dog safaris, has been attacked online by employees of mainland Chinese companies. Of those companies, the largest one is Arctic China.
Yle contacted Arctic China CEO Tang Chao about the alleged defamation of Jin’s business. Tang said he did not know Jin and ended the call. The Yle report said that, according to the Chinese Embassy in Finland, Tang has been the contact person for the Chinese Consulate in Rovaniemi since 2017. Arctic China also represents the partially state-owned, partially publicly traded Chinese alcohol company Kweichow Moutai in Finland.
Following years of improving relations between Moscow and the CCP, Russian authorities have made various moves to restrict the activities of local residents who practice Falun Gong, including banning spiritual texts and attempting to designate Falun Gong as “extremist,” under problematic local laws used to suppress civil society. On July 8, 2021, a court in the Siberian region of Khakassia designated Falun Gong as “extremist” and disbanded a local group of believers. The U.S. Department of State quickly condemned the decision, noting that it effectively serves to “criminalize the peaceful practice of their spiritual beliefs. Russian authorities harass, fine, and imprison Falun Gong practitioners for such simple acts as meditating and possessing spiritual texts.”
The Department of State continued to state that the court’s decision against Falun Gong “is another example of Russian authorities labeling peaceful groups as ‘extremist,’ ‘terrorist,’ or ‘undesirable’ solely to stigmatize their supporters, justify abuses against them, and restrict their peaceful religious and civic activities. The Russian government has done so against a number of groups, whose members face home raids, extended detention, excessive prison sentences, and harassment for their peaceful religious practices.”
The U.S. Department of State noted that this is just another example of the Russian practice of misusing the ‘extremist’ designation as a way to restrict human rights and fundamental freedoms, “We continue to call on Russia to respect the right of freedom of religion or belief for all, including Falun Gong practitioners and members of other religious minority groups in Russia simply seeking to exercise their beliefs peacefully.”
The complex nature of Hong Kong’s geopolitical relations with Beijing has made it increasingly difficult for Falun Gong practitioners in the region to carry out civil disobedience events or speak freely without reprisal. Volunteers, often elderly citizens, who pass out informational flyers on the street have experienced hate crimes; independent reporters have received death threats; and the Epoch Times’ printing press was set on fire several times by assailants suspected to be associated with the CCP.
2021: On May 11, 2021, Ms. Sarah Liang was assaulted by an unidentified man wielding an aluminum softball bat. She suffered multiple bruises on her legs, and told the media that the same man had tried the assault before on May 8 at the same location in front of her home. Liang is a long-time reporter for the Epoch Times, one of the last few beacons of free media in the country along with Apple Daily. The incident is the latest in a string of attacks on Epoch Times facilities and its reporters in Hong Kong— all suspected of being organized by the Chinese regime as part of its campaign to silence the outlet’s uncensored and pro-democratic coverage. The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), in a statement on its Facebook page, condemned the violence against Liang and “solemnly urged” the police to quickly bring the attacker to justice.
2020: On December 13, 19, and 20, 2020, Hu Aimin, a 47-year-old man, physically assaulted three Falun Gong practitioners who were legally operating street stalls in different locations in Hong Kong. He destroyed the stalls, damaging also his victims’ computers. On December 24, 2020, he was arrested. During the trial in 2022, the CCP’s legal and propaganda maneuvers tried to compel the judiciary to declare that Hu did not commit any crimes by vandalizing the booths. Hu Aimin’s judgment could spell either hope or doom for legal precedents in Hong Kong regarding forthcoming Falun Gong harassment cases.
2019: Ms. Liao Qiulan and two other Falun Gong practitioners visited the Cheung Sha Wan police department on September 24, 2019, to discuss an upcoming October 1st parade. When they left the police station two masked men dressed in black attacked Ms. Liao. One hit her head, and the other struck her body. Ms. Liao suffered severe bruising and a gash to her head that bled profusely. After being taken to a hospital, she needed five stitches to close the two-inch gash on her head. On January 26, 2022, Ke Yanzhan was sentenced to two years and nine months for acting as a lookout during the attack. Two suspects believed to be the assailants Mr. Ke was helping have been charged but have not been convicted.
2008: In March, shortly before the arrival of the Olympic torch, several Taiwanese Falun Gong adherents were denied entry, as they sought to join a Human Rights Torch Relay, according to Hong Kong’s Falun Dafa Association spokesman Kan Hung-cheung.
Taiwan and China share the same language, ethnicity, and heritage. Yet in Taiwan, Falun Gong is practiced freely. Due to this contrast, the Chinese regime has imposed thuggery, intimidation, harassment, kidnapping, and everything in between to target the Taiwanese Falun Gong community.
2015: Assailants Zhang Xiuye, Gao Shumei, and Yu Gangsheng from the pro-CCP Concentric Patriotism Association verbally abused and physically assaulted Falun Gong practitioners and Taiwanese police officers. Zhang even shouted in front of Taipei 101 on January 19, 2015, “I’m a thug sent by the CCP. So what?”
June 2012: 53-year-old Taiwanese citizen Mr. Chung Ting-pang, was abducted by Chinese security agents as he was preparing to board a plane at Ganzhou airport in southern China after visiting relatives for three days. Sources in China indicate that Zhou Yongkang, the highest-ranking Communist Party official leading the campaign against Falun Gong, may have ordered Chung’s arrest himself. “His relatives drove him to the airport and watched as he walked into the passenger-only area, but he didn’t arrive at the airport in Taiwan,” the Chung’s wife said at a press conference at Taiwan’s parliament on June 22. “We contacted his relatives in China immediately; they went to check and told us that he was taken away from the airport to ‘assist in an investigation of Falun Gong activities.’”
These are just a few notable cases of transnational repression and Beijing’s oppression of dissidents in these select few countries. The case studies presented here are not wholly representative or encompassing the countless aggreviances that have occurred and continue to occur worldwide.
The Chinese Communist Party uses diplomatic pressure and its multilateral foreign policy channels to restrict or ban Falun Gong in other countries, as Beijing seeks to justify its own brutal persecution and treatment of Falun Gong practitioners within China.
Through Chinese embassies and consulates, Confucius Institutes, and United Front Work Department initiatives, the Chinese Communist Party has attempted to exert diplomatic pressure and threats on American representatives regarding Falun Gong.
May 2019: The PRC Consul General in Houston, Li Qiangmin, sent a letter to the mayor of Plano, Texas, repeating anti-Falun Gong propaganda and declared his concerns about the “Falun Dafa Day” proclamation that Plano City issued a few days prior. After receiving this letter, one official in Plano City Council told local Falun Gong practitioners that they will not issue any proclamations related to Falun Gong in the future, and instead, will only issue proclamations on local issues.
February 2018: Before the Arizona State House of Representatives voted on resolution HCM2004, which condemns forced organ harvesting in China, some local Falun Gong practitioners organized an event to have experts and victims present evidence of forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in China. They invited all state senators and representatives. One state representative who came to the event told the organizer that some of his colleagues couldn’t come because they received a phone call from the Chinese consulate in LA, pressuring them not to come to the event.
September 2017: California State Senate shelved a Falun Gong resolution after receiving an opposing letter from Chinese consulate in San Francisco.
May 2016: The Chinese Consulate in Chicago pressured Minnesota state legislators not to pass two resolutions in support of Falun Gong via personal visits to the legislators’ offices and sending letters to them. The two resolutions were eventually passed despite the Chinese Consulate’s opposition.
March 2015: The Utah Chinese Dual Language Immersion (DLI) Director from the Utah State Office of Education sent a letter to all DLI schools, slandering Falun Gong and asking them not to engage with or support Shen Yun. She left a contact of Confucius Institute and a Han Ban representative for schools to contact at the end of the letter.
2015: A Missouri state senate committee chairman’s staff told the Missouri Falun Gong practitioners who were visiting their office that the CCP consulate in Chicago pressured them not to do anything regarding Falun Gong and Taiwan–the two issues that Chinese government deems most sensitive and cannot tolerate. Missouri state senate eventually passed resolution SCR28 in 2018 to condemn the persecution of Falun Gong and forced organ harvesting in China. Missouri House passed a similar resolution HCR7 in 2017.
2012: Consul General of PRC Consulate in San Francisco sent a letter to Seattle council member Nick Licata slandering Falun Gong and Shen Yun, with the hope that the council member wouldn’t send a proclamation or congratulatory letter to Shen Yun.
A Missouri state representative’s staff received an email from someone that deceptively posed as a Falun Gong practitioner and wrote all kinds of crazy, bizarre and threatening things to her.
2008: For years, a number of local government officials throughout California and the country have received letters and phone calls and even personal visits from Chinese diplomatic officials, warning them not to do anything nice for Falun Gong – issuing supportive proclamations, letting them march in parades and so on – because it could imperil Chinese-American relations.
2007: Just before NTDTV’s Holiday Wonders opening performance, New York Assemblyman Michael Benjamin received a letter from the Chinese Consulate General in New York. The slanderous letter relied on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s usual tactics to defame Falun Gong. It pressured the assemblyman with “Chinese and American relations” to force him not to support Holiday Wonders or the Chinese New Year Spectacular shows in any way. At least one performance in Holiday Wonders depicts the persecution of the spiritual practice Falun Gong.
2002: Days after Condoleezza Rice took over as National Security Advisor in 2001, a meeting with her Chinese counterparts went off the rails fast. Expecting to cover important security topics, Rice and her team were instead bombarded with a 30-minute prepared speech vilifying Falun Gong. Rice’s team finally asked the officials to leave their office.
October 1999: The day after the San Antonio, Texas mayor issued a proclamation for Falun Gong, two Chinese Consulate officials came to his office and accused the mayor of causing problems and demanded that he retract the proclamation. They also made slanderous statements about Falun Gong.
Sept 1999: Then-CCP leader Jiang Zemin personally handed then-U.S. president Bill Clinton a stack of booklets created by the CCP’s propaganda department, vilifying Falun Gong in an attempt to justify the nascent crackdown on the practice.
Under CCP pressure, Danish embassies around the world rejected ethnic Chinese and Taiwanese visitors for the entire duration around Jiang Zemin’s scheduled visit to Iceland from June 12-16, 2002. The Chinese Communist Party also gave U.S., European and Australian Airports a “blacklist” to block Falun Gong travelers from boarding flights to Iceland. IcelandAir blocked passengers from boarding once they matched the names on the blacklist.
August 2022: On August 24, the Italian weekly magazine Panorama published an article denouncing the barbaric practice of organ harvesting that China performs at an industrial pace. On August 28, the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in Italy published a reply on its own web site. The Embassy accused Panorama of defamation and plagiarism, expressing its “severe condemnation.”
They claimed that China is based on the rule of law, and that Chinese laws prohibit selling human organs and performing illegal transplants, adding that all surgical operations of that kind are based on voluntary donations of organs. So, the Embassy continued, forcible human harvesting is only a “rumor” that has been “fabricated ad hoc by the heretic cult ‘Falun Gong’ and others anti-Chinese forces” to “create Sinophobia and deceive the international community.” The Embassy added that, “As everyone knows, ‘Falun Gong’ is anti-human anti-social cult, which destroyed countless families and a long time ago was banned by the Chinese government, according to its laws.” (Source)
In Russia, the close relationship with Chinese Communist Party leaders has led to a steep deterioration of rights for Russian Falun Gong practitioners. Following a 2008 a regional court declared several Falun Gong-related materials to be “extremist literature,” the Supreme Court rejected a 2012 appeal to remove Zhuan Falun from a list of banned materials. These included Zhuan Falun, a prominent research report on the harvesting of organs from Falun Gong practitioners, and leaflets for the “Global Human Rights Torch Relay,” an initiative to protest suppression ahead of the Beijing Olympics. After the Supreme Court decision, four Falun Gong practitioners were detained in Vladivostok at a local printing shop as they were picking up flyers that expose the persecution of Falun Gong in China. One copy of the practice’s main text Zhuan Falun and all of the flyers were confiscated, as the police chief cited the court decision as the main reason.
In Russia, the close relationship with Chinese Communist Party leaders has led to a steep deterioration of rights for Russian Falun Gong practitioners. Following a 2008 a regional court declared several Falun Gong-related materials to be “extremist literature,” the Supreme Court rejected a 2012 appeal to remove Zhuan Falun from a list of banned materials. These included Zhuan Falun, a prominent research report on the harvesting of organs from Falun Gong practitioners, and leaflets for the “Global Human Rights Torch Relay,” an initiative to protest suppression ahead of the Beijing Olympics.
After the Supreme Court decision, four Falun Gong practitioners were detained in Vladivostok at a local printing shop as they were picking up flyers that expose the persecution of Falun Gong in China. One copy of the practice’s main text Zhuan Falun and all of the flyers were confiscated, as the police chief cited the court decision as the main reason.
On May 5, 2015, foreign minister Murray McCully told MPs not to attend a World Falun Dafa Day (May 13) celebration in order to appease the Chinese Embassy.
“The Chinese Embassy is likely to monitor attendance at events, and can be expected to protest officially should ministers, Members of Parliament or other officials be present. The media may also take an interest in Ministers’ attendance. Given the sensitivities of this event, MFAT’s advice is Ministers and MPs should not attend World Falun Dafa Day events.”Foreign Minister McCully in his leaked email to MPs
Amnesty International Executive Director Grant Bayldon called out the executive branch for “self-censoring its MPs in an attempt to please China.”
From 2001-2007, over 400 Falun Gong practitioners were blacklisted from entering Hong Kong. In particular, before the democracy protests in July 2007, Hong Kong’s immigration authorities blocked over 140 Taiwanese practitioners of Falun Gong from entering the region. During that period, the Falun Dafa Information Center obtained a copy of a fax sent from Hong Kong’s immigration authorities to a Hong Kong airline. Through July 1, “Falun Gong followers will be regarded as unwelcome travelers to Hong Kong,” the fax states. The immigration authorities promised to provide the airline with a blacklist of Taiwanese Falun Gong adherents, who would be refused entry upon arriving in Hong Kong. The authorities requested that these people be prevented from boarding their flights from Taiwan.
These are just a few notable cases of diplomatic pressure on these select few governments. The case studies presented here are not wholly representative or encompassing the countless aggreviances that have occurred and continue to occur worldwide.
Mixed Early Reporting
When the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) first launched the campaign to eliminate Falun Gong, it did make headline news around the world. In 1999 alone, Falun Gong was featured on the cover of the New York Times on six separate occasions, including a top story about a secret press conference held by Falun Gong practitioners on the outskirts of Beijing.
Throughout 2000, the Wall Street Journal ran a series of investigative articles that exposed how Falun Gong practitioners were routinely imprisoned and tortured, sometimes to death, around China. These articles won the Journal a Pulitzer for investigative journalism.
The Journal’s series was, however, the exception. Most early coverage was not in-depth, perhaps due to the fact that the spiritual practice was unfamiliar to most Western journalists. Furthermore, many reports continued to base reports around statements from CCP officials and other propaganda produced by China’s state-run media. Consequently, many Western media reports carried, to some extent, the CCP’s lies and false narratives about Falun Gong.
Beginning in 2002, however, the coverage fell off a cliff.
A Deafening Silence
For the past 20 years, there has been a significant silence on the persecution of Falun Gong in China. Besides a 2008 piece in the New York Times, and several articles in the last few years covering forced organ harvesting atrocities, for the past 20 years, there has not been a single significant article in any of the top five U.S. news outlets on the persecution of Falun Gong in China. This, despite the fact that the annual reports by human rights groups and governments around the world have documented millions of Falun Gong practitioners detained, imprisoned, tortured or killed by Chinese authorities.
At the same time, the Center has documented many cases of media outlets killing Falun Gong stories, cancelling Falun Gong interviews, and dubious meetings between CCP officials and major media leaders/publishers (learn more at: Why haven’t I heard about this?)
CCP Document Directs Manipulation of Western Media
A 2017 document was leaked from the 610 Office, which clearly outlines the CCP’s strategy of mobilizing foreign journalists and international media to report on Falun Gong in a manner that more closely matches Beijing’s own demonization of the practice:
“By … cultivating non-governmental forces, we can fight heretical religions such as “Falun Gong,” thereby mobilizing influential and friendly people such as experts, scholars, journalists, and overseas Chinese community leaders to speak up. We should strive to have foreign media take a tone more favorable to us [on Falun Gong].”
In recent years, the implementation of this directive has appeared to tangibly impact reports by Western media that echo the CCP’s propaganda against Falun Gong: the exact same phrases, heretic slurs, and defaming language used by Chinese state-run media have been included in some Western media reports, and like their Chinese state-run counterparts, pay little heed to reality. For example, in an October 24, 2020 New York Times article, the author propagates the false claim that Falun Gong belief “forbids interracial marriage.” Even the most basic exploration of Falun Gong communities throughout the United States, and indeed around the world, prove this to be false. On the contrary, interracial marriages and families are quite common.
The source for such misinformation likely stems from English-language Chinese government websites and other official sources, which tailor their anti-Falun Gong messaging according to the narratives that have the best chance of striking a nerve in the host country. As racial tensions have soared in the United States in recent years, these Chinese government websites moved “racial discrimination” accusations to the top of their anti-Falun Gong propaganda pages.
It is also worth noting that many Western media companies have majority owners or parent companies with significant business ties with China. At the very least, this represents a significant conflict of interest between profits and candid, fair reporting on the Falun Gong human rights crisis.
Confucius Institutes and Chinese Students Scholars Association are two of the organizations that the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Department has employed to influence college campuses around the world. Through these organizations, the CCP uses students and faculty to intimidate and harass American students who support Falun Gong, even if they may not practice.
In the United States, several universities with Falun Gong clubs like Columbia, UPenn, Stanford, Harvard, the University of Texas, the University of Arizona, and others have also seen immense ideological pushback and invasive acts of intimidation. Research about this is ongoing as of December 28, 2022.
Another target of the CCP is Shen Yun Performing Arts, the performing arts company celebrated for its world-class performances of classical Chinese dance and music. The performing arts troupe has dozens of recorded cases where the Chinese Communist Party and its “diplomatic missions” has attempted to harm performers, intimidate local venues or government to cancel the show, or interfere in other ways with Shen Yun’s shows around the world.
Many of Shen Yun’s artists have experienced first-hand religious persecution under communist rule in China before they immigrated to New York. For example, the father of principal dancer Steven Wang was imprisoned in China for practicing Falun Gong and tortured to the brink of death; he died shortly after his release. Steven Wang’s mother is now detained for her faith in a Chinese prison. (Updated September 2022)
Dragon Springs, home to the Shen Yun campus and training facilities, has also met with opposition from several local New York residents, who were found to have ties to China, including in the business sector. A key individual is Alex Scilla, 39, an American who runs a nonprofit called NYEnvironcom, and had previously lived in Tianjin for 15 years, with his background posted on the website of the American Chamber of Commerce in China (AmCham China). In recent years, nearly all of Scilla’s non-profit’s advocacy has focused on the Shen Yun campus and a few other real estate projects tied to the Chinese expat community in Deerpark, which one of the documents on the site calls “satellite developments” of the campus. In recent years, surveillance drones, trespassing, and other acts of aggression have occurred with increased frequency as well.
Aside from these attempts to disrupt the training facilities, another method of intimidation targets performance venues and public officials. Theaters worldwide have received threatening letters from Chinese embassies and consulates, warning them not to host Shen Yun lest they antagonize the CCP. Public officials, like senators and state representatives, have received similar letters defaming Shen Yun and urging them not to attend the shows.
Other attacks have physically endangered Shen Yun performers. In 2009, a tire exploded on a Shen Yun bus carrying dozens of dancers from Phoenix, Arizona, to their next performance in California. When the driver brought the bus in for service, the mechanics told him the blown tire had unusual marks on it. Apparently, somebody had used a drill to make a hole halfway through the rubber—not enough for it to deflate, but enough for it to burst once on the road. Several months later, one of the company’s buses was found to have two slashes on its tire, both clearly made with a blade. Within the same week, a tire on another bus burst while en route from Memphis to Little Rock on I-40 West. Two days after the incident, that same bus was found with slashes on one of its tires. In one case, someone poured corrosive chemicals over the brake and accelerator pedal cables of a Shen Yun promotional minivan. The company eventually had to arrange 24/7 security for all its vehicles.
Even personal information, such as the identities and families of the performers, have been exploited by the regime. The parents of one Shen Yun emcee would receive visits from Chinese authorities nearly every weekend. In another case, the husband of an instrumental soloist was monitored and jailed in China. These scare tactics also expanded to America when the home of Shen Yun choreographer and manager Chen Yung-chia was broken into in August 2013. “The intruders seemed to be professionals, as they left no fingerprints. The intruders had a motive [other than simple robbery],” Chen said. “They came here thinking they could gather sensitive information about Shen Yun.” Valuables, such as cash, gold jewelry, and expensive watches were all left untouched. Instead, what was stolen were four laptops and a DVD player.
As recent as July 8, 2022, the last week of Shen Yun’s world tour, groups of pro-Beijing protesters like the CCP Committee Taiwan gathered outside of the venue before showtime and disturbed audience members entering the National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan. In June 2022, a theater crew member in Midwest region of America reportedly told a Shen Yun production personnel that every time Shen Yun leaves, the theater will receive letters from the Chinese consulate. It’s standard procedure for the theater employees now.
Practitioners abroad are targeted by the long arm of the 610 Office. The CCP and its agents will monitor, harass, and even physically assault exiled Falun Gong adherents or local non-Chinese citizens who practice Falun Gong. These transnational repression cases are well-documented by human rights organizations and Falun Gong communities in the United States, the Czech Republic, Taiwan, Brazil, Argentina, and more.
Since 1999, Freedom House has been one of the most consistent international voices in support of Falun Gong practitioners’ right to practice their faith without fear of persecution. In 2021, Freedom House issued “Out of Sight, Not Out of Reach: The Global Scale and Scope on Transnational Repression.” In the report’s China chapter, Freedom House details the CCP’s persecution of Falun Gong via transnational repression abroad.
Freedom House found that the Chinese regime “engages in the most sophisticated, global, and comprehensive campaign of transnational repression in the world” and that among its targets are Falun Gong practitioners.
“Anti-Falun Gong activities are led by the 6-10 Office, an extralegal security agency tasked with suppressing banned religious groups,4 and the MPS, but local officials from various regions are also involved in monitoring Falun Gong exiles from their provinces. Hackers from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) run spyware campaigns from within China.”
These reprisals include frequent harassment and occasional physical assaults by members of visiting Chinese delegations or pro-Beijing proxies at protests overseas, as in cases that have occurred since 2014 in the United States, the Czech Republic, Taiwan, Brazil, and Argentina. Media and cultural initiatives associated with Falun Gong have reported suspicious break-ins targeting sensitive information, vehicle tampering, and pressure from Chinese authorities for local businesses to cut off advertising or other contractual obligations with them.
The Freedom House report also noted that practitioners in Thailand had been detained, “including a Taiwanese man involved in uncensored radio broadcasts to China and several cases of Chinese refugees formally recognized as such by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).” Countries besides Thailand where this has happened include India, Serbia, Malaysia, Egypt, Kazakhstan, UAE, Turkey, and Nepal.
“In October 2017, a Falun Gong practitioner who had survived a Chinese labor camp and become a high-profile informant on CCP abuses—sneaking a letter into a Halloween decoration when detained and later filming a documentary with undercover footage—died of sudden kidney failure in Indonesia. Some colleagues consider his death suspicious, but no autopsy was performed.”
In October 2021, the Institute for Strategic Research of the French Ministry for the Armed Forces (IRSEM) published a 646-page report, titled “Chinese Influence Operations: A Machiavellian Moment.” The study details the Chinese Communist Party’s infiltration and influence over international governments in various sectors, including media, diplomacy, economy, politics, education, think tanks, and culture.
According to IRSEM, the CCP’s first goal is to silence Chinese communities abroad, especially dissidents with different opinions, ethnic Chinese who grew up in democratic countries, and religious and ethnic minorities like Falun Gong, Uyghurs, and Tibetans. In terms of implementation of its goal, the CCP monitors these organizations and individuals regardless of their nationality – as long as they are Chinese descendants. The tactics range from information gathering, infiltration, suppression, threat, intimidation, harassment, and even direct violence.
The report highlights 79 instances of the CCP’s persecution of Falun Gong outside China. These include concrete examples of how the CCP bought off overseas Chinese media and Chinese organizations to spread fake information that demonizes Falun Gong and incites hatred. For example, the CCP threatens and intimidates Falun Gong practitioners through the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA), which often have ties to local Chinese embassies and consulates, individual Chinese students studying overseas, and online trolls.
On July 9, 2021, the U.S. Department of State condemned “the designation of the Khakassia regional branch of Falun Gong as ‘extremist’” in a decision where judges “criminalize the peaceful practice of their spiritual beliefs. Russian authorities harass, fine, and imprison Falun Gong practitioners for such simple acts as meditating and possessing spiritual texts.” This decision follows years of growing relations between Moscow and Beijing, especially after both regimes paradoxically won seats in the UN Human Rights Council last October.
The DOS continued to state that the court’s decision against Falun Gong “is another example of Russian authorities labeling peaceful groups as ‘extremist,’ ‘terrorist,’ or ‘undesirable’ solely to stigmatize their supporters, justify abuses against them, and restrict their peaceful religious and civic activities. The Russian government has done so against a number of groups, whose members face home raids, extended detention, excessive prison sentences, and harassment for their peaceful religious practices.”
The U.S. Department of State noted that this is just another example of the Russian practice of misusing the ‘extremist’ designation as a way to restrict human rights and fundamental freedoms: “We continue to call on Russia to respect the right of freedom of religion or belief for all, including Falun Gong practitioners and members of other religious minority groups in Russia simply seeking to exercise their beliefs peacefully.”
On September 13, 2022, Safeguard Defenders reported that Chinese police are currently running at least 54 “overseas police service centers” in foreign countries, some of which work with law enforcement back home to run operations on foreign soil. The Chinese regime is carrying out this illegal, transnational policing operations across five continents, targeting overseas critics of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for harassment, threats against their families back home and “persuasion” techniques to get them to go back.