Falun Gong vs Communist China Jason Blakeburn, Destry Elms, Alexander Gang, Lauren Kolker Honor’s Colloquium
Abstract Allegations have been made against the Chinese government concerning concentration camps targeted against Chinese practitioners of Falun Gong. From their investigations, the United States government found no evidence to support the allegations. Is Falun Gong really a threat to the Chinese government? Through investigative research in the Dulaney-Brown Library and its resources, as well as a personal interview with a Falun Gong Master, our team is attempting to uncover the truth behind Falun Gong and Communist China. Falun Gong, one of the fastest growing “religions” in China, was founded in 1992 by Li Hongzhi. Li Hongzhi and his followers characterize themselves as practitioners cultivating the Buddha Fa and not as religious devotees. There are currently 100 million practitioners of Falun Gong worldwide; 80 million of these are from China. In the midst of the persecution, Falun Gong continues to grow and thrive attracting more followers every year.
Religion in China Religion in China covers a wide range of beliefs and practices including Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and the multiple, traditional religious practices of many Chinese. Each has played an important role throughout the history of China, with Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism molding the culture of the country into what it is today. Since the Communist rule began in October 1949 all religions have been severely handicapped. This persecution of religion intensified during the Cultural Revolution, beginning in 1966 and ending in 1976 with the death of Chairman Mao. Gradually, religious freedom is returning to China, but the government still exerts firm control over what type of religion is suitable for the Chinese people. The key guideline established by the Chinese government for all religious organizations is that they be compatible with patriotism and national unity. (Ludwig 229)
Officially Recognized Religions of The People’s Republic of China (PRC) Buddhist Association of China Chinese Taoist Association Three Self Movement (Protestant Christianity) China Christian Council (Protestant Christianity) Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (officially independent from Roman papal authority) Chinese Islamic Association (Ludwig 228,229)
What is Falun Gong? F ounded in 1992 by Li Hongzhi A blend of Taoism, Buddhism, and the popular religious traditions of China (qigong), with a mystical understanding of modern science M ain purpose: the cultivation of vital energies through truthfulness, compassion, tolerance, and physical exercises prescribed by Hongzhi
Falun Gong in the words of it’s founder/practitioners According to Falun Gong teachers and practitioners, Falun Gong (also called Falun Dafa) is a high-level cultivation practice guided by the characteristics of the universe—Truthfulness, Benevolence, and Forbearance. "Cultivation" means continuously striving to better harmonize oneself with these universal principles. “Practice” refers to the exercises – five sets of easy-to-learn gentle movements and meditation. Cultivating oneself is essential; practicing the exercises supplements the process. Over time, the principles of Dafa unveil the deepest and most profound truths of the universe. Following the principles, practitioners of Falun Dafa are able to reach very high realms, enlightening to the true meanings of life, and finding the path of return to their origins and true selves. While the exercises have deep inner meanings, they also help to reduce stress and can bring great improvements in health and fitness.
China’s Response to Falun Gong In order to place the ban on Falun Gong, the Chinese Government made specific accusations: Falun Gong is an evil cult. It is harmful to the physical and mental well-being of the people. It hurts society by disrupting social order and the work of institutions. It is superstitious and antiscience, hypocritical, criminal, treasonous, seditious, and well-organized.
Details of the Accusations The Chinese government claimed innumerable cases of the psychological and physical well-being of people being threatened by Falun Gong participants. They give specific examples of alleged suicides supposedly caused by the Falun Gong. They denounced the sect, saying Falun Gong promotes unscientific ideas such as “idealism, theism, and feudal superstition.” “Sanctimonious” is used to describe the followers of Falun Gong. The legality of Falun Gong was questioned because all organizations formed in China have to be approved by the Chinese government. Falun Gong participants were accused of stealing fifty-nine confidential government documents. “To overturn the People’s Republic of China and to subvert socialism” was the most feared accusation made by the Chinese government.
Allegations & the U.S. Congressional Reports* In March 2006, U.S. Falun Gong representatives claimed that thousands of practitioners had been sent to 36 concentration camps throughout the PRC, particularly in the northeast, and that many of them were killed for profit through the harvesting and sale of their organs. Many of these claims were based upon allegations about one such camp in Sujiatun, a district of Shenyang city in Liaoning province. According to Epoch Times reports, of an estimated 6,000 Falun Gong adherents detained there, three-fourths allegedly had their organs removed and then were cremated or never seen again. 1 American officials from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and the U.S. consulate in Shenyang visited the area as well as the hospital site on two occasions — the first time unannounced and the second with the cooperation of PRC officials. After investigating the facility, officials “found no evidence that the site is being used for any function other than as a normal public hospital.” 2 In December 2005, Chinese officials reportedly confirmed that executed prisoners had been “among the sources of organs for transplant” and admitted that a market for such organs had existed, but denied that they had been removed without consent. 3 In March 2006, the Chinese Ministry of Health announced stricter regulations that would require written consent from organ donors, ban the sale of human organs, and limit the number of hospitals allowed to perform transplants. 4 *Specific citations available.
Group Analysis Falun Gong is a practice devoted to the cultivation of higher principles within one’s inner being. However, whether or not Falun Gong is a concrete religion can still be questioned because there is no worship directed towards a specific deity or God(s). With the research we have done so far, we do not think that China’s persecution of the Falun Gong practitioners was as prevalent as they led society to believe; however, we believe that persecution definitely existed under the Communist regime. We also believe that the Chinese government compounded on the few examples of radical behavior, evident in all religions or practices, within the circle of Falun Gong.
Methodology & Future Research Utilizing the Dulaney-Brown Library, we found articles and books pertaining to Falun Gong. Additionally, we used credible sources from the World Wide Web. One of the most valuable aspects of our research included a personal interview with a Falun Gong practitioner. In the future, we would like to delve into what makes a practice become a religion and whether or not Falun Gong meets the criteria. We have a basic understanding, but further research is needed. We would like to further investigate the allegations made by both sides in order to see what is propaganda versus what is fact. Ideally, this would entail a trip to China…at our own expense.
Works Cited 1.Chang, Maria Hsia. Falun Gong: The End of Days. Connecticut: Yale UP, 2004. 2.“China and Falun Gong.” August 2006. CRS Report for Congress. 30 October 2008. http://italy.usembassy.gov/pdf/other/RL33437.pdf. 3.Li, Hongzhi. Zhuan Falun. Third Translation Edition. New York: The Universe Publishing Company, 1999. 4.Li, Hongzhi. China Falun Gong. Third Translation Edition. Revised Edition. New York: The Universe Publishing Company, 2000. 5.Ludwig, Theodore M. The Sacred Paths of Doom: Understanding the Religions of the World. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006. 6.Schmidt, Luke. Falun Gong Practitioner. Personal Interview. 26 October 2008. 7.[Unknown Author]. Online image. http://www.clearwisdom.net/emh/article_ images/wangbin1.jpg. 8.[Unknown Author]. Online image. http://photo.minghui.org/photo/images/ selected/world_wide/images/c4_GermanSistersPracticeExercise5.jpg.