Fa Lun Gong Internal Strife

This is a very interesting video attempting to explain why Chinese people are so poorly behaved when they are overseas. It has a strong anti-CCP slant and obliquely praises Fa Lun Gong for preserving Chinese culture.

I can agree with a part of that, though the performance called Shen Yun is somewhat biased and less than subtle with its political agenda. There are secular performances organised by Chinese communities all over the world that promote Chinese culture without such jarring political messages.

The Cultural Revolution did destroy a great part of Chinese culture and today’s Confucian Institutes, operated by the CCP attempts to link Confucianism with Marxism, adulterating and distorting the former.

However, post-Mao China did try to make amends following the age of reforms started by Deng Xiao Ping. It’s only in the last 10 years under you know who that the country is regressing into Cultural Revolution 2.0.

Falun Gong is a religious movement based on qigong meditation founded by its leader Li Hong Zhi in China in the early 1990s. Coinciding with a period when things Chinese caught on in the West, it became very popular among intellectuals and even party officials. As early as 1995, Li was already travelling and teaching Fa Lun Gong in many countries. Fa Lun Gong clubs and associations appeared everywhere. In spite of its religious overlay, the movement was tolerated by the communist party because it was good for China’s image overseas and its teachings did not go against party politics.

That was until Li Hong Zhi boasted that there were probably more Fa Lun Gong members than CCP members. Members who left the movement because Li forbade them from profiting also betrayed the movement by reporting them to the authorities. Following a few clashes between Fa Lun Gong members and the authorities, the Chinese government under Jiang Ze Min began a violent and ruthless crackdown on the movement in 1999. From a movement that was the pride of China, the CCP turned the tables and demonised Fa Lun Gong as an evil cult.

Li Hong Zhi and some of his followers fled to the US where the movement grew from strength to strength, operating several media outlets and a performance troupe to show the world the plight of their movement and the atrocious acts committed on their fellow followers under the CCP.

On the social media front, Fa Lun Gong mobilised many outstanding individuals who cogently present the movement’s anti-CCP narrative. As the most resourceful and organised movement outside China, I often liken Fa Lun Gong as China’s de facto opposition party. Fa Lun Gong is now sponsored by multi-millionaires, its media business highly profitable and it now has its global headquarters in Dragon Springs, a 427-acre (1.73 km2) compound in Deerpark, New York, United States, near the residence of Li Hong Zhi himself.

Many controversies have emerged in recent years. Li often contradicted himself, saying that he is an ordinary man and at the same time, claiming supernatural powers. While today’s Fa Lun Gong is still the target of the CCP’s smear campaign, they are no longer the underdog outside China. Many fellow dissidents outside Fa Lun Gong had put their differences aside to fight the common enemy.

Like any movement or organisation that has grown too big and too powerful, cracks would appear from within and some victims would turn into bullies. It’s the case with Jews who had once suffered from the Holocaust. It’s also the case with Tibetan refugees with some Buddhist teachers who have been practically deified by the Western world getting greedy, arrogant and abusive.

Madam Xiao Ming was a Fa Lun Gong follower who was expelled for refusing to censure another former follower Yu Chao who had been exposing questionable practices by Li Hong Zhi and his wife. If you watch Yu Chao’s YouTube videos, you may want to cringe as many of his complaints about Fa Lun Gong’s top brass are quite petty.

Though I would ignore Yu Chao’s complaints, another dissident Wang Zhi An (not Fa Lun Gong member) would use these as evidence to expose Fa Lun Gong’s hypocrisy. As an observer, I would not vilify them for being petty (even though I think that Wang Zhi An may have an axe to grind). However, Madam Xiao Ming received specific orders from Master Li and other leaders to denounce Yu Chao and accuse Wang Zhi An of being a CCP spy. Was that a reasonable order for Madam Xiao Ming to follow?

She didn’t think so. For that, she was not just expelled but expunged from the movement! All her videos and articles on Fa Lun Gong’s channels were wiped clean. Even interviews with other Fa Lun Gong members not on her own channel were deleted. This came as a little surprise to me. What really made me think that Fa Lun Gong has lost its way is the move to remove Xiao Ming even from 干净世界, an alternative platform to YouTube which supposedly censors only lewd content but not politically sensitive content. Aren’t they applying unwritten censorship rules on par with the CCP’s? It certainly makes them much worse than YouTube which they keep criticising for being unfair. Meanwhile, Xiao Ming has been ostracized or should I say, excommunicated. No Fa Lun Gong member was allowed to work with or even contact Xiao Ming in their personal capacity.

Below is Xiao Ming’s video recounting how she ended up in this predicament. Speaking against CCP propaganda, she was an outstanding presenter during Covid, being fluent in both English and Chinese. I sympathise with her.

Nevertheless, we should never dismiss Fa Lun Gong as a credible force that needs to be watched and bridled. In times of conflict when everyone is fighting against a dictatorship, it’s impossible not to ally with a potential dictator. It’s just that when the war is over, one must make sure that the former underdog doesn’t take the place of the dictator.