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Feb 19

Something to chuckle about #4

Written by DJ on Thursday, February 19th, 2009 at 4:16 pm
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I suppose it is generally a good idea not to pick up a fight with someone agreeing with you. Or as Sherlock Holmes would have said, “it’s elementary”. So with that in mind, this following story probably sounds rather amusing. (H/T to Charles Liu)

The short version: Some Falun Gong followers literally stopped the press of a Canadian newspaper over a sympathetic article towards their cult spiritual movement.

The long version, as told by the Province:

Frank Cui, [a devout Falun Gong practitioner and] the owner of the Burnaby-based Epoch Press, which is affiliated with the Falun Gong movement, … has printed the Asian Pacific Post, an independent award-winning Vancouver weekly, for the past three years.

Last Thursday [January 8, 2009], Cui held the Asian Pacific Post hostage.

He and other senior members of the Falun Gong group in Vancouver felt that the newspaper’s front page story was detrimental to their cause.

The story was about an elaborate dance production showcasing Chinese culture that is expected to perform in Vancouver this April. The story claims the group has been targeted by the Chinese government because the show’s local presenters are the Falun Dafa Association of Vancouver and New Tang Dynasty TV, a North American broadcaster founded by and affiliated with Falun Gong practitioners.

Cui and his cabal did not like the story’s “balanced” approach. They did not want readers to see the Chinese government’s views of the Falun Gong. They wanted to control the content and said they had a “legal right” to do it.

When Harbinder Singh Sewak, the publisher of the Asian Pacific Post, said no, Cui refused to release last week’s paper from the print shop.

The report ended with this summary:

The control [Falun Gong followers] say China exerts on them is the same control they want to exert on others. The freedom they say China denies them is the same freedom they have denied the Asian Pacific Post.

So what could be so offensive to Falun Gong followers in that Asian Pacific Post article? I went through it and couldn’t find any. If anything, it is casting the Chinese government’s words and actions as unreasonable and bullying. But then again, merely reporting the Chinese government’s position on Falun Gong in this matter is beyond the tolerance threshold for some true believers.

It should also be noted that Asian Pacific Post is hardly neutral as far as China is concerned. You may get some more chuckles out its editorial from two years ago railing against the approval for nine Chinese central and local TV channels to be made available in Canada.

And how did I find this particular editorial? It is listed at Falun Gong Canada’s website.


There are currently 1 comments highlighted: 29600.

58 Responses to “Something to chuckle about #4”

  1. Kingsley Says:

    From the article:

    “You would have to be pretty politically plugged in to recognize it as political. I understand now, they do have one scene of Falun Gong practitioners being tortured.
    “But within the context of the entire production it really is rather minor.”

    If you were trying to make people a little more sympathetic to the FLG cause then it would make sense to put on a grand cultural performance that would attract lots of Chinese (including Chinese Canadians) and interested non-Chinese who might not have firm views one way or the other (evil cult vs persecuted spiritual movement), and then slip in a few references to persecution that might sway their opinion.

    This is my theory – I imagine that most of their potential audience would be Chinese, and they were worried the focus on Falun Gong would put off a lot of them. No one likes being manipulated, whether it is by CCTV or FLG, and if everyone knows that it is run by FLG practitioners and is trying to get them to come around to a pro-FLG point of view then it is much less likely to have the desired effect. Fewer people will show up, and those that do will be more aware of what is “political” about the show, so he tried to have the article pulled. In this case, not all publicity is good publicity.

  2. presulem Says:

    You guys are shameless. Anything negative you can dig up on Falun Gong you put here, but I’ve never seen any news here about the persecution of them in China. Recently Gao Zhisheng, a lawyer who has defended Falun Gong practitioners, released a letter recounting his brutal torture at the hands of Chinese authorities. He was tortured for 50 days, including beatings, electrocution to the genitals, having his genitals pierced with sharp objects, being urinated on, and more, and worse. At one point, he said, when they left the room he tried to kill himself by slamming his head onto the table repeatedly, because he wanted to end it all. He said they only laughed at him, because “they have just seen this too many times.” He’s a Christian, by the way, not a Falun Gong practitioner.

    Is this what you support, then? The bottom line with Falun Gong, whatever else they do, is that they are an innocent meditation group being absolutely brutalised by a totalitarian state. The whole practice is based on trying to be a good person, too. Nothing will change this, whatever seemingly stupid things they do overseas or in China, or however much you can’t understand them. They just want to be left alone to practice their beliefs and get on with life. That is really not much to ask, and anyone with a modicum of common sense should be able to realise that this is a fair enough wish. Charles Liu is a shameless promoter of propaganda and demagoguery, I’ve no clue why this website has given itself to be his mouthpiece.

    Who is willing to eat their own dog food and read Gao’s letter of torture? Why don’t one of the mods post it to the blog, to even things up? Here are the links:

    http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/content/view/11777/

    http://chinaaid.org/2009/02/08/human-rights-lawyer-gao-zhisheng-forcibly-taken-by-police-current-whereabouts-unknown-his-latest-open-letter-reveals-his-past-severe-torture/

  3. Falun Gong is the presenter? Says:

    This show is coming to my city and according to the ad in the paper it says that the Falun Dafa Association is the presenter. So there’s no hidden identity here.

  4. kui Says:

    @2.

    I came from TianJin. It was a FLG stronghold in 1990s. One of my colleague ‘s mother had a fall and had a broken leg? He suspected of a fracture (He is a doctor himself) and called an ambulance. However she refused to go to the hospital and stated that she is a person possessed “Kong Fu”( She was a FLG practitioner). Other FLG practitioners also came to his house to “empower” the woman who was in obvious agony to “heal faster”. The activity kept going through the night until my friend got exaughsted and fell asleep in a chair. He woke up found his dear mother not breathing. He tried to resuscitate but fail to revive her. Her FLG friends came back later and they congratulated him because his mother had gone to “heaven”. My colleague became very angry and threw an ashtray at mirrorred furniture. The broken glass lacerated his face. He said if these FLG practitioners were not there he would be able to convince his mother to go to the hospital. However he did not sue anyone because all these elderly FLG practitioners were all from his own immediate neighbourhood.

    Do you know how much anger is there from the community? Surely the FLG wants to be left alone but if the Chinese government took no actions to outlaw them then it would be neglecting the wellbeing of the community.

    And, also, do you believe their claims? They made many accusations against Chinese government. The torture one is nothing compare with the the “organ harvested and thrown into furnace to burn alive”.

    I saw FLG practationers in Sydney airport. There were more than 10 of them together practiced their breathing exercise out side the CA 175 boarding area where I was waiting to board my flight. I thought they got permission to stage a protest there but to my surprise they boarded the Air China plane!!!! If you are at risk of having your self captured, tortured or even have your organ harvested and burned alive, are you going to make it clear you are FLG practitioners before you board Air China’s plane to BeiJing? In front of so many Chinese passengers? Oversea Chinese community is supposed to be penatrated by CCP spies according to FLG? Do they believe their own lies???????????

  5. Wukailong Says:

    I know I probably shouldn’t get involved in any discussion concerning FLG, but, out of curiosity… How many of these examples of failing to receive medication have been reported abroad? How many people have been hurt or dying as a result of practicing FLG? According to People’s Daily on the day of the outlawing of FLG back in 1999, there were 1500 reported cases of being hurt or killed. If there were at least 10 million practitioners, I wonder if it’s the teachings themselves or just people being fanatic that caused these problems?

    Refusing medical treatment and dying as a result has been a problem with extreme Christian movements as well. They’re waiting for God to heal them, rather than going to the hospital.

    NOTE: I’m not pro- or anti-FLG in any way. I happen to know a lot about it since a friend of mine had me practice a different kind of qigong back in the 90s and warned me against FLG, so I was curious as to what their teachings were about. After reading about it I found them hard to take seriously, unless you really believe in spiritual wheels, one man who personally protects humanity with his energy, and other kind of weird stuff.

  6. How It Works... Says:

    Hi Kui, from which story book did you get that great compelling lie! LOL In 1999 China was full of awful stories like that on Falun Gong–that’s the year that the dictators banned the practice to serve their own end. To understand this let me explain some tactics from the CCP here.

    So in a nutshell, this is what I know from doing human rights work for this cause. The 610 office, comparable to the Nazi Gestapo, was launched by the regime in 1999 solely to create vicious lies and propaganda about the Falun Gong discipline so to get the populace to hate them. Why? By instigating hatred, it made it easy for the dictators to cruelly torture the followers–who outnumbered the CCP membership–with the goal of eradicating them from Chinese society without having anybody really notice. How? Because this group never retaliated in the face of persecution and was the perfect victim.

    To this day much effort has been expanded (by the CCP) to cover up the almost perfect genocide. Rapidly the propaganda made its way to the West through the media and the internet. The army of CCP blogggers–who are paid 50cents a shot btw–made sure that the propaganda spread hatred all over the internet. But investigators got wind that live organ harvesting (of Falun Gong) for profit was happening since the beginning of the persecution. At least 3 or 4 reports corroborate that this is indeed true. The most revealing investigative report is called ‘Bloody Harvest’. You can read it here: http://organharvestinvestigation.net
    and make your own judgment. I know this sounds too evil to be true. But to the skepticals I say — who could make up such atrocities? Impossible. So don’t be so quick at blaming and punishing the victims and take a good look at the perpetrators’ work who will be held accountable for their crimes sooner than later. A lot of kind people are working overtime to stop this genocide in its tracks and that of the Christians and other religious persecutions happening in China. All agree that the persecution of Falun Gong is by far the worst one.

    The dictators should be ashamed of their crimes. Killing their own precious Chinese people for their faith is purely demonic. Letting down the population in such a way and telling everyone that Falun Gong and Christians are a cult and criminals to justify their own crimes against humanity is simply outrageous. Hopefully things will come to a halt soon–what goes around comes around.

    And for the record people who are sick usually go to the hospital if they need to–that’s also mentioned in the teachings–9 day lecture and other books.

    Of course, the teachings are very profound and are not for everyone. If you read Zhuan Falun only once, you will get a superficial meaning and if you’re not predestined–you might get ZERO understanding and might want to laugh at it. Otherwise reading the book at least 3 times (and more) will start to make sense to you. That’s how it goes. For example, a martial arts manual would have to be read many times for the disciple to master the discipline. That’s the idea. No work no gain.

    Official website on the persecution: http://faluninfo.net
    ps – Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the UN have all documented this persecution.

  7. kui Says:

    Refusing treatment and (sufferring the consequences) is one’s rights in western socienty. That is a value not shared by many Chinese. A Chinese son or daughter would feel a great deal of guilt and anger if their elders refused treatment and died.

    I doubt how many self claimed FLG practitioners overseas are serious FLG members or just use it to get what they want from the western government, or simply some politically motivated people. From what I observed these oversea FLG members are quite different from those I saw in China in 1990s. I work in a large public hospital in Sydney. I have met with FLG members as inpatients and they obviously have no problems receiving all sorts of the treatment. And of course they all tried to sell me their Epoch Time and New Tang TV.

  8. Wukailong Says:

    Actually, I would say most Westerners would be upset too at someone refusing treatment because of their religion. Also, I’m not sure what you get from the government by being a practitioner. I only know about the situation in Sweden, but I’m pretty much sure it holds in the rest of Europe too, and that is that you might be able to get political asylum if you are FLG, nothing else.

    I have the same feeling of overseas FLG members that you have. Some of them are quite active trying to get new members, but most of them are OK until they begin to speak about their beliefs. 🙂

  9. kui Says:

    So I am lying and a CCP 50 cents party member? Can you produce your great hard evidence pls? You believe it? But I do not because I am not what you accuse me of. I learn from my own case now how FLG makes its accusations and whether I should believe it. You can produce what ever you want to accuse me of and whatever you want to accuse the Chinese government of. Genocide? Organ harvesting? what else? Make some thing bigger than that will help you becoming a joke even faster in Chinese community. Every time when there is anything bad or sad happens FLG shows a great deal of excitememnt. Your mouthpiece Epoch Time & Kan Zhong Guo have published endless celebrations when there was earthquake, drought, heavy snow falls, and recently the fire damage to the building belongs to CCTV( In which a firefighter died). Your teaching of hatred is not even against the CCP, it is against Chinese people.

    Sorry, Ms Janna, I have no interest to turn your wheel.

  10. kui Says:

    It is very hard for a person to obtain PR and social security payments in Australia if a person from overseas does not possess certain level of English and skills therefore not a candidate for immigration. Every time I go to Chinese consulate in sydney to get my visa signed I can see them there holding posters and banners. I just got my visa signed last week and I found them holding the poster that looked exactly the same as they did 18 months ago. I know a person obtained her PR and now on CentreLink payments by doing just that. I am paying heavy taxes to help her having an easy life!

  11. Wukailong Says:

    @How it works: “Otherwise reading the book at least 3 times (and more) will start to make sense to you. That’s how it goes. For example, a martial arts manual would have to be read many times for the disciple to master the discipline. That’s the idea. No work no gain.”

    I’ve read it once and there are things that I think are wrong even though I would read them a hundred times over. For example, Li Hongzhi claims that he sends out gamma rays that broke some researcher’s instruments. He also said that he sent out “atoms”. The former claim, if true, would make him extremely dangerous to be around because of radioactive radiation, and the second is true about any person.

  12. How It Works... Says:

    Hi Kui, I’m not from Australia and I’m not calling you anything and not blaming you for anything. I was just giving you and posters on this blog my understanding of the persecution tactics and how it is exported in the Western world. Please don’t take this personally. It’s fine if you don’t believe any of it–it’s entirely your choice. As far as I know in North America any ways, the government does not show special treatment towards Falun Gong and some have been deported to China where they did face persecution–that goes against the Torture Act. Having said this, it’s not easy for followers even outside China, although they appreciate the freedom over here and the kind people, but they continue to suffer for their people in the Mainland and to raise awareness to stop the genocide, the rape, the cruel beatings, the pillage and organ harvesting of innocent people. Sorry if I offended you with my clumsy writing, this was not my intent at all.

  13. How It Works... Says:

    W.

    I’ve read the book a few times and I’m reluctant to explain or dissect any principles as the understanding is different for everyone. But as one breaks through levels the more one understands. Most importantly, it is advised that the disciples should enlighten to the principles at their own pace. After a while you will find that the surface words don’t mean much. Again, like the martial artist cannot attain his/her black belt on the first day, he/she needs to work at it consistently and in the end his/her inner wisdom will be reflected in the mastery of his/her discipline. The same is true for this Falun Dafa teachings.

  14. kui Says:

    @ post 12.

    Sorry to let you know that I do not believe your persecution, genocide, rape, torture…… stuff. Why those FLG practitioners I know of never get persecuted? The 610 office is supposed to be in Tian Jin, right?Chinese people are not living in hell as you want the rest of the world to believe. People’s life are getting better and better.

  15. Leo Says:

    Sometimes it is a good entertainment and kill of time to have FLG members preaching to you. It is so bizzare!

  16. BMY Says:

    @wukailong #11,

    It’s because you only read once. If you read one more time you will know the gamma rays come from Master Li are no ordinary gamma rays.It’s called ultra-F-gamma-ray which is not only harmless to people but sends good energy to whoever receives the rays. 🙂

  17. Mike Says:

    What’s the difference between Falun Gong and Scientology???

  18. Wukailong Says:

    @BMY: 🙂

    @Mike: The teachings are similar. I guess the difference is that you don’t end up broke after practicing FLG.

  19. Leo Says:

    @ Wukailong,

    I strongly protest your slandering of scientology! Tom Cruise is not broke, John Trivolta is not broke! (Well, his son is dead. But I quote your “If there were at least 10 million practitioners, I wonder if it’s the teachings themselves or just people being fanatic that caused these problems?”)

    I also think it very inappropriate to compare the great teaching of scientology with an exotic oriental snake-oil chalatancy. 😉

  20. Raj Says:

    I must say that I disagree with post #2 being hidden. Whether someone likes or dislikes a post shouldn’t mean it’s essentially censored. Otherwise what we have is a tyranny of the majority.

    In my view the only people who should be able to hide a post are the mods – because it might offend someone but doesn’t quite break the rules. Otherwise it should be deleted. I don’t agree with all of what is written in #2 but he has a right to say it. Guys, you need to change your system – perhaps just take the votes out of it.

  21. TonyP4 Says:

    I do not really understand FLG. For sure, it is not Micky Mouse operation. Who funds their expensive operations?

    My ma and her friends were given free tickets to fill the empty seats for New Year celebration by FLG and demonstrated they’re capable – but it will not be possible to fight CCP.

    Same for Tibetan exiles.

    CIA (with money borrowed from China? 🙂

    Or some rich folks trying ‘to save the world’? Or some rich Chinese bashers?

    None of the above? All of the above?

    I do hate to see FLG folks camp outside the embassy offices in major cities in N. America. If they were Chinese patriots, do they understand their actions worsen the image of China?

    CCP does not tolerate any one try to topple their regime (as what they did to their own students in the Tiannamen incident). FLG is organized and capable – but not possible to fight CCP.

  22. Steve Says:

    A Vancouver newspaper that has been sympathetic to FLG in the past uses a printing company that has strong ties to FLG. The printer refuses to print an edition of the paper because the printer, after consulting with other local FLG practitioners, decides the article is too balanced. By not printing the paper, I think everyone would agree they engaged in a form of censorship. Did I get the story right?

    Now we’ve had 21 comments and no one has mentioned the actual incident or given an opinion on it. Can’t someone address the decision not to print?

    I would think that not printing the paper has hurt the FLG’s image in Vancouver. When you complain about censorship in China and then practice censorship to an award winning newspaper that has been sympathetic to your cause, you hurt your cause since it makes you appear to hold extremist views and not respect the culture of the country you live in.

    I’d be curious as to the reaction of our Canadian bloggers. Since I’m not Canadian, not FLG, not Chinese… three strikes, I’m out! 😉

  23. neutrino Says:

    I used to have two roommates who are strong FLG believers. They travel to various cities in the states to protest. They tried several times, in vain, to get me into it as well. Personally, I liked living with them because they are in general peaceful and we never had conflict. But some of the preaching they wanted me to believe — how should I say it — , are really kind of nuts. For example, they told me that computers are deviced deployed by aliens to control the earth populations. And, of course, as FLG practioners, they are the only ones immune to it, etc. You get the point.

    I support, nevertheless, their rights to protest anywhere, it they so choose. However, for them to turn around and defend their “truth” by shutting different views from appearing, is really ironic. BTW, this incident has a strong resemblance to what happend in Mainland china in 1998 (or 1999?), when they surrounded the local beijing media outlet because they published some unflattering piece on FLG.

  24. Charles Liu Says:

    Tony4 @ 21, “Who funds their expensive operations”

    That has been discussed in this thread. FLG’s agiprop theater receives funding from a quasai-government organzation founded by fmr. congressman Tom Lanto’s wife, Annette Lantos, and operated by NED veteran Ambassador Mark Palmer.

  25. Wukailong Says:

    @Steve: You’re right. The ugly thing of this is that both the strongly pro-FLG and anti-FLG both have their axes to grind, and are both lost to their propaganda. I do believe I have more knowledge of FLG than the ordinary Joe Sixpack (or Wang or Zhang in China) and I would definitely call it nutty, but it’s not like the CCP banned it because it was nutty. It was simply becoming too vocal, and obviously, the group most capable of fighting the CCP.

    @TonyP4: Still, I have to say that FLG is the most tenacious group I’ve ever seen. They are more capable of fighting CCP than anyone in the democracy movement or the Tibetan exiles. Somehow they (FLG and CCP) seem quite similar…

  26. bianxiangbianqiao Says:

    An interesting story. I enjoy reading about Fa Lun Gong. It is full of black humor. I have 2 points to contribute to the discussion.

    1. Nobody should deny the medical efficacy of Fa Lun Gong rituals for helping people with diseases. At least the rituals should have some sort of placebo effect. Medical research shows that sugar pills improve a wide ranges of illnesses.

    2. As a strong believer of the evolutionary theory, I think belief in Fa Lun Gong and other cults must serve some important human needs, both physical and psychological, otherwise it must have been flushed out of the human gene pool long ago. The placebo effect on illnesses alone would have sustained these practices from generation to generation in our hunter-gatherer ancestors (those old chimps). The modern behavior of “seeking medical attention when you are ill” is too recent to have been naturally selected, unlike woodo, the holy man, the medicine man, witchcraft and Shamanism. The psychological benefit is mainly in giving the cult members a sense of affiliation, a group to belong to, maybe even a cause to die for, in my opinion. The sense of bonding among the cult members is maintained by a shared persecution delusion, the belief that the outside world, or the “mainstream society” is dangerous and hostile. This was the strategy Jim Jones used to control members of the People’s Temple, and how Master Li Hongzhi controls his followers. Cults are therapy for some very unfortunate souls, just like throwing shows at Wen Jiabao and climbing poles to unfurl banners in China was therapy for Western punk activists. The Chinese government’s ban on Fa Lun Gong is the cult’s major source of life; it feeds the cult members’ delusion of persecution. Lift the ban, the cult will eventually disintegrate. The hard-core members will eventually die off from refusing medical attention. Let natural selection take over. Give evolution some time. Humans are always impatient. That is why the world has all its problems.

  27. Wukailong Says:

    @bxbq (#26): “the sense of bonding among the cult members is maintained by a shared persecution delusion, the belief that the outside world, or the “mainstream society” is dangerous and hostile.”

    I agree with this, but unfortunately it’s true for most groups and societies, though maybe not to the same extent. It’s the same with the Chinese belief that the Western world is evil and out to split China.

    “The Chinese government’s ban on Fa Lun Gong is the cult’s major source of life; it feeds the cult members’ delusion of persecution. Lift the ban, the cult will eventually disintegrate.”

    That reminds me of what a good friend of mine said about the ban when it happened: “Being persecuted by the Chinese government is the best advertisement you can get in the Western world.” But why is it delusional? Just because the cult is nutty doesn’t mean it isn’t persecuted. Also, I’m not sure it would disintegrate if the ban was lifted – then it ought to have happened before the ban.

  28. Leo Says:

    @Wukailong,

    I don’t think the Western governments are evil and out to split China. But it is clearly their goal and tactics to create enough troubles and noises for an ideological foe and potential world resources diversifier. Only that after they unleashed such forces like DL and FLG, they are not any more capable of controlling the damage.

    And I also find there was a strategical gap between what FLG did initially and what they did later, namely they first only had beefs with the local media, local religious groups (various Buddhist, Catholic organizations issued warnings against them after the group ate into their shares of the cake) and specific local authories, then they suddenly brought the issue to a national level, by staging a human sige of Zhongnanhai. According to their rhetorics, they did not at all break up with the central government at that moment. They still claimed to support the leadership of CCP and they just meant to “explain the issue to the national leaders”. But the way they “explain the issue” and the sheer symbolism of it, which was obvious to every Chinese (no matter their beliefs, regionalitis, and ethnicities”) just baffled me. I think there was a very conscious determination in the FLG core to actively seek victimhood.

    And I very agree with your point that “[t]hey are more capable of fighting CCP than anyone in the democracy movement or the Tibetan exiles”. I think this is the point they can survive to these days. Don’t forget that there were similar and more popular qigong movements and more influential masters at the time as FLG, which disintegrated immediately after the ban. Remember Zhong Gong and its master Zhang Hongbao, who died a few years agon in the US in almost anonymity?

  29. neutrino Says:

    @Wukailong 27
    Mostly agree. I want to mention another point, i.e., one of the main contribution to the FLG movement, before it was banned and persecuted, is the failure of chinese educaiton system. My two rmates who practice FLG are both electrical engineers and intelligent people; but their demonstrated disdain towards science is astonishing. It just shows how chinese mainland education system is good at producing students efficient at solving problems without the capacity of independent thinking.

  30. TonyP4 Says:

    @CL #24

    Thanks for the info. I was not in the blog when that info came out or I missed it. Any one knows who funds the Tibet exile. Hollywood folks?

    With this bad economy, the printers should be begging for business.

    It remined me in my college days in San Jose, CA that we had almost a hundred students protesting against the Japanese on some fishing islands. Most are from Hong Kong and some local ABCs. They carried signs all in Chinese. The education system in HK does not teach us to demonstrate effectively. Quite silly but a good experience – at least meeting girls. 🙂

  31. Leo Says:

    @ neutrino 29,

    I think the mainland Chinese education system is not the point. According to CNN, there are scientists from Taiwan endorsing the theory of FLG. And there are a lot of Chinese scientists who are against FLG and were only educated on the mainland.

  32. neutrino Says:

    @ leo 31

    I have to disagree with u … Just because there are scientists from taiwan endorsing FLG, it doesn’t mean the failure of mainland chinese educaiton system did not contribute to the FLG movement. IMHO, the two main contributing factors are the vacuum of faith, that created the need for some and was met by FLG; then the education system’s failure, which created the “susceptibility” among mass population.

    Also, the word of scientist has a different tone to it in Chinese, after it was translated from westeran languages. It’s a profession, mostly, in reality, much like a Photographer. Having that profession, does not automatically give you more capacity of independent thinking, innovation, etc. It does give you addictional training which could be used towards those directions. Whether one takes that or not is not a sure thing. If you are lucky ( e.g., have a good advisor that assign you to a nice project), you don’t have to be extrodinary to earn a Ph.D and become a scientist, be it in taiwan, mainland, or anywhere else. Most scientists are ordinary people. But the over-emphasis on skills geared towards examinations, played a vital role in producing a high number of “scientists/engineers”, who are often not passionate about their actual profession, and have become significant memebers of this FLG phenomenon.

    In taiwan, signapore or even Japan, similar emphasis was placed upon examinations. But there was not vacuum of faith, therefore you did not see the mass movements of FLG there.

  33. Leo Says:

    @ neutrino

    I think you ignored some basic facts.

    Chinese Buddhists and Catholics are also susceptible to FLG, which was why the two religious organizations issued the warnings before the ban. So faith is not a question envolved.

    FLG doesn’t claim to be religious. Their theories, such as ultra-F gamma rays, aliens, etc. are more bordered on pseudo-science.

    Scientists have a very high esteem in Chinese society, which is not just A Professsion. Figures like Tsien Hsüe-sheng, Yuan Longping, Zhu Kezhen, Li Siguang, are revered like half-gods. The former and the present Chinese presidents, the present premier, are all engineers trained in science and technologies.

    I don’t know how is the going in Taiwan and Singapore, but it is known that Japanese people are very gullible to cults and pseudo-science.

    Japan, Singapore, and Taiwan don’t place so much emphasis on examinations because the examination does not have such social functions as it is in China.

    FLG is not a unique phenomenon in Chinese, or even world, history, either. In essence, it is not different from believing Jesus was resurrected or Mohammd was the Prophet.

  34. Bob Says:

    Not really related to the topic of this blog entry, but anyone else spotted the British Guardian fucked up again on its web page?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/feb/21/hillary-clinton-china-economy-human-rights

  35. Wukailong Says:

    @Leo, neutrino: Interesting points. Actually, one of my pet peeves is that no educational system teaches students to think freely… It might be better in some places and worse in others, but in general the problem is that students do not study philosophy or history of ideas that much, or they simply don’t see any trouble believing in the Bermuda triangle or a human being protecting planet Earth with his energy bodies.

    People are probably always going to hold different beliefs, but the willingness to test them is what makes a difference.

    “FLG is not a unique phenomenon in Chinese, or even world, history, either. In essence, it is not different from believing Jesus was resurrected or Mohammd was the Prophet.”

    Very true. The only difference between this, or Mormonism, or the religions that have existed for millenia, is how long they’ve existed. It’s like the cloak of time somehow makes the latter more respectable.

  36. Wukailong Says:

    @Bob: I think that’s something for anti-CNN. Look, now the Western media even claims that Hu Jintao is Wen Jiabao!

  37. vmoore55 Says:

    Nothing has changed, same old same old, to most whites all Chinese look alike and the FLG are Tibetans.

  38. neutrino Says:

    @leo 33 , Wukailong 35

    I think we can agree to disagree on whether the failure of chinese educaiton system contributed to the creation of mass susceptibility to FLG, or whether scientist is just A profession. How about that?

    I do want to repond to some of the other points you raised. ____________________________________________________________________________________________
    FLG doesn’t claim to be religious. Their theories, such as ultra-F gamma rays, aliens, etc. are more bordered on pseudo-science.
    FLG is not a unique phenomenon in Chinese, or even world, history, either. In essence, it is not different from believing Jesus was resurrected or Mohammd was the Prophet.
    _______________________________________________________________________________________

    These two points are sort of self-contradictary. So, do you think FLG is religion or not? IMHO, it is. It’s own denial of that is more of political convenience, though. Therefore, I agree with you, as well as WKL, on the second point that FLG is no different from believing Jesus resurrection or Mohammad as the last Prophet.

    However, I think WKL made an important point, ” People are probably always going to hold different beliefs, but the willingness to test them is what makes a difference. “. Chinese education system, in this regard, have produced a lot of scientists/engineers who are lack of curiosity (and I have met, worked with many, many of them), and don’t like to question authorities, existing views, passed-on beliefs. Those who do, and were educated in china, kept their originial curiosity despite the system, not because of the system!

    Now, I acknowledge that a lot of chinese buddists and catholics are also FLG associates. Some of them are drawn into it due to the collapse of social medical system, at a time when barefoot doctors no longer existed and national-wide medical insurance still was, and is, in its infancy. Another factor is, chinese approach to religion is quite secular and they are often more willing to tolerate/accept other religions practices, items. A lot of Christians in the states (especially in the south where I used to live) would not buy a buddist sculpture because it is an idol from another religion. You won’t find many of those people in chinese catholic community. On the other hand, I have also many met a few chinese christians, who would later confess to me that the only reason they joined it is because of the access to the church as a wedding venue. Does that mean most Chinse christians are not as devout as their cunterparts in other countires, I don’t know and dont’ really want to generalize here. But it might be fair to say Chinese followers of buddism and christianity are in general not fundamentalists. It would be incomprehensible for a devout Christian to embrace the teaching of FLG about JESUS, if you read it as I did. OF course, they are always subject to interpretation, as usual. Isn’t that the beauty (and flaw at the same time) of all faiths.

    FLG followers, on the hand, tend to be quite devout and fundamental. In this regard, it a unique phenomenon in China. It should be another comparative study, for another day.

    On a different subject, we can laugh at, despise, or even ban FLG as an evil cult, there is one important fact I’d like to point out is: NO matter what you think of it, it has offered hope to many, many people, that the Chinese society as a whole (with its extension to overseas community), has failed to offer. Isn’t that something we should ponder upon?

  39. Leo Says:

    @ neutrino 38,

    They are not at all self-contradictory.

    FLG has repeatedly denied their being religious, but various sociologists and cult researchers (in China as
    well as in the West) have identified it as just another cult. That’s all.

    —————————————————————————————————————————————————–
    Chinese education system, in this regard, have produced a lot of scientists/engineers who are lack of curiosity (and I have met, worked with many, many of them), and don’t like to question authorities, existing views, passed-on beliefs. Those who do, and were educated in china, kept their originial curiosity despite the system, not because of the system!
    ——————————————————————————————————————————————————–

    If you know the history of the Western education, you will know that the Wester education system in the 1950s was exactly so. The difference is that the Western education system evolved through 1960s and 70s. The Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japanese education reforms lag behind the Western. China’s lag behind Taiwan and Japan. But Chinese government has realized this problem and sent various teams to the West to study their education reforms. In the rich coastal regions like Beijing and Shanghai, the education authories have began to reduce the size of the class, the amount of facts to be memorized, and increase the time for questions and debates. It is a process, and a problem of funding and availability of resources.

    ————————————————————————————————————————————————–
    But it might be fair to say Chinese followers of buddism and christianity are in general not fundamentalists. It would be incomprehensible for a devout Christian to embrace the teaching of FLG about JESUS, if you read it as I did. OF course, they are always subject to interpretation, as usual. Isn’t that the beauty (and flaw at the same time) of all faiths.
    ————————————————————————————————————————————————–

    Religions, in China as well as in the West, are not monoliths. There are fundamental communities even in China’s official churches. There are groups within the offical Catholic church that insist on the existence of the literal “heaven”, “hell” (thus in defiance of the official Vatican version). There are groups within the official “Three-Self” movement which stress on literal interpretation of the Bible, whom the official “Three-Self” committee just decribes as some “more enthusiastic sisters and brethren”.

    —————————————————————————————————————————————————–
    FLG followers, on the hand, tend to be quite devout and fundamental. In this regard, it a unique phenomenon in China. It should be another comparative study, for another day.
    —————————————————————————————————————————————————–

    Every organized religions have a start phase in which the practioners are very devout and fundamental. Remember the countless healings, miracles, visions, martyrdom, in early Christianity.

    The devoutness and fundamentalistness of FLG is also varied among its practitioners. I know a couple who are the friends of my family and practised FLG. They also recommended my parents to practise it. But when they knew the government banned it, they immediately abandon the practice. When we mention it in front of them again, they are just embarrassed.

    —————————————————————————————————————————————————-
    NO matter what you think of it, it has offered hope to many, many people, that the Chinese society as a whole (with its extension to overseas community), has failed to offer. Isn’t that something we should ponder upon?
    ————————————————————————————————————————————————

    Ultr-F gamma rays, spinning wheels in one’s stomach, alien conspiracies, is not kind of hope I will suggest my loved ones to have.

    Whatsever the problem, FLG is just a wrong hope. It can be just a waste of your time, it can also be a devastation of your life.

  40. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Steve #22:
    nice summary, and nice attempt to bring the discussion back to the topic. Sadly, based on the 17 comments since, you weren’t too successful this time. You know, you could (this is just a hypothetical) print research showing that FLG cures cancer, and in this crowd, the discussion will be about how either the FLG is a cult or they’re being persecuted in China, as opposed to “holy smokes, somebody cured cancer!” What can you do!?!

    As a Canadian of Chinese descent but non-FLG (batting 0.666 by your scale, without steroids…eat your heart out, A-Rod), I think the printer’s decision is completely wrong, disappointing, un-Canadian, and completely counterproductive to whatever the message is that they purportedly want to convey. And I hope the Asia Pacific Post takes their business elsewhere.

  41. Leo Says:

    @ S.K. Cheung 40,

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with the printer’s decision. A lot of Catholic or Christian printers turn down certain commissions under the excuse that they contain inappropriate contents. Nobody accuses them of censorship, of being wrong, disappointing, un-American/Canadian/Australian/British.

  42. Wukailong Says:

    @neutrino (#38): I didn’t want to sound dismissive or something; I think you bring up valid points. As for the educational system and the general situation in China, it seems to me there is a lot of belief in authority that potentially makes people vulnerable. A lot of people listen to something if it sounds scientific, so maybe because Li Hongzhi brought up claims about gamma rays and dimensions, it made him sound more credible to many.

    Also, I think we have additional factors:

    * Li is a charismatic figure (from recordings I’ve seen) who’s good at presenting himself in a mystical way
    * The group as such seems to fill a social need
    * It gives people a feeling of being protected
    * Many practitioners are old people who haven’t had that much education

    So it is a large NGO, it fulfills a lot of psychological needs and it also fills a religious vacuum. I think the latter might be more important than we realize. It was the same thing when the Soviet Union crumbled – people turned to the Orthodox Church like never before.

    I can agree with Leo that FLG gives people false hopes, but it doesn’t really matter to people as long as they believe in it.

  43. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Leo #41:
    “There is absolutely nothing wrong with the printer’s decision” – once again, to each his own. I think the printer’s decision is absolutely wrong. So between the two of us, we’ve got the extremes covered. If the general principle holds, then perhaps the “truth” is somewhere in the middle.

    “Nobody accuses them of censorship, of being wrong, disappointing, un-American/Canadian/Australian/British.” – point me to specific examples of religious printers turning down work for the reasons you suggest, and I would happily accuse them of all the things you mentioned. Besides, the situation here seems a little different. THis isn’t a new client that this printer is choosing not to take on; this is an ongoing “buyer/seller” relationship (although it’s unclear if it’s a contractual relationship) where the printer is suddenly taking on editorial control. That to me is unequivocally censorship.

  44. Leo Says:

    @ Wukailong 42,

    You missed the point again.

    If Chinese people want to fill their faith vacuum, they can turn to various organized religions. Buddhist temples and officially sanctioned churches do have large followerships.

    The fact is that FLG repeatedly assured their practitioners, especially those Party members, that it is not religious, and it is instead just some harmless qigong exercises, and it does not question atheism or materialism.

    I have a senior relative who turned to the official Catholic church due to her longtime ailment. There were sisters from the official church coming to pray for her. I know another woman who turned to the official protestant church due to her divorce, unemployment, and poverty. The official Three-Self church organized them into prayer and self-helf groups. So I think if there was any religious vacuum, there have already been a lot of candidates that are eager to fill it. Most FLG members I know have neither health problems nor economic concerns. The success of FLG is largely based on the fact that traditional religions like Buddhism and Christianity don’t have a lot of credibility among the population.

    I think there are several factors to be considered:

    * An increasingly rich population (so they can afford FLG’s book series and cd collections and CD players to play back the cds.)
    * An improved education (so they can read the FLG books and relate themselves with FLG’s pseudo-scientific claims)
    * An increasingly bored population (so they have extra time to organize study and excercise groups and sessions.)

  45. DJ Says:

    Leo, SKC,

    The discussions elsewhere seem to indicate that the printer was under contract with the Asian Pacific Post. I suppose that is true since it is fairly logical. Now, with that assumption, this act was likely illegal to begin with unless there were some amazingly broad exception clauses in the contract. As for whether the printer’s action was right or wrong, see my title. 🙂 I certainly didn’t expect a serious debate on this question.

  46. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To DJ:
    I agree it’s a pretty safe assumption that theirs is a contractual relationship. So at the very least, as you suggest, there seems to be a breach of contract on the part of the printer. I would tack that onto their other wrongs in this incident.

  47. Wukailong Says:

    @Leo: Obviously I’m missing a point I don’t see. Is it the religious vacuum thing?

    I’m not sure but I personally don’t think the organized religions (which are five, so that’s what you get to choose from) fill everyone’s needs. You do. That’s probably what we are contesting. It’s compatible with what you wrote that “[t]he success of FLG is largely based on the fact that traditional religions like Buddhism and Christianity don’t have a lot of credibility among the population.”

  48. Leo Says:

    @DJ 45,

    Of course I have your title in my mind. My awkward argument may have distracted your attention. Actually I was more turned by the claim that the printer was being “un-Canadian”. C’mon, there are all kinds of Canadians, Nazi Canadians, Commie Canadians, Antisemite Canadians. You cannot deny somebody’s national belonging just because of their different political convictions. Or being Chinese, Saudi, North Korean, means being intolerant, undemocratic, stupid? Such claims are self-righteous, pretentious, and pointless.

  49. Allen Says:

    @Steve,

    You wrote:

    I’d be curious as to the reaction of our Canadian bloggers. Since I’m not Canadian, not FLG, not Chinese… three strikes, I’m out!

    I’d just like to point out the obvious: you only struck out once above – that is the part about not being Chinese. That is sad…

    But not being Canadian or FLG does not count as a strike against anyone – at least in my books…

    So you still have two strikes left!

    (j/k)

  50. Leo Says:

    @Wukailong 47,

    Yes, there are “five” official religions, but there are various Buddhist and Lamaist sects grouped under the offical Buddhist Association, there are hundreds of small Christian denominations grouped under the official protestant church, there are various animalist and shamanist practices grouped under the offical Daoist Association. Then there are other standing-alone, odd, groups like Dongba, Russian Orthodox, etc, etc.

    My point is that any associations with traditionally-defined deities cause a certain skeptism among the Chinese population. Most FLG’s claims avoid such theist traps.

    There are also such trends in the West. During the era of John Paul II, the Vatican basically dismissed any literal interpretation of the biblical facts and was open to any scientific explanations of nature. Jehova’s Witness has began the practice much earlier. Various Lamaist sects, including the Dalai Lama himself, claimed on some occasions that their teachings are atheist and compatible with modern science and they read and consult modern science regularly.

  51. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Leo #48:
    good grief, so that was your beef?
    This is what I wrote in #40:”I think the printer’s decision is completely wrong, disappointing, un-Canadian, and completely counterproductive to whatever the message is that they purportedly want to convey.” So now I am not allowed to THINK what might or might not be un-Canadian? Besides, if you’re not Canadian, then I THINK I’m in a slightly better position to judge what might be TYPICALLY considered Canadian values; and if you are Canadian, then I THINK there would still be room for disagreement.
    “You cannot deny somebody’s national belonging just because of their different political convictions” -Please also note that I did not deny the printer’s national belonging as a Canadian; I merely questioned his actions/decision as unbecoming of a Canadian. So next time, could you read it a bit more carefully before you go off the deep end?

  52. Leo Says:

    @ S.K. Cheung

    According Canadian values, you are certainly free to be judgmental and to imagine what might or might not be un-Canadian. But I’m not totally sure about insulting people with different views by questioning their personal identity. But let’s stop here, and spare this site the undeserved un-Chineseness.

  53. DJ Says:

    Leo (#48),

    Ha, now I get your comment #41. In this particular case I would like to take SKC’s side. Perhaps you read a bit too much out of SKC’s choice of word. I am unfamiliar with the term “un-Canadian” since I live in the U.S. But here, to say someone as un-American is a rather harsh condemnation and I suppose SKC uses it the same way. While I would not use that term myself since I do not identify myself as an American first, I certainly have no issue with its usage by others in the context of people living or incidents happening in the U.S.

    It’s quite natural to take pride in one’s own national identity and associate it with all things good and worthy of pride. And logically, to deem someone’s bad behavior un-Canadian doesn’t imply it is not also un-Chinese, un-African, etc. Let’s look it this way: SKC implicitly had a inclusive view to make such a statement. He would have to start with a recognition that the printer and his associates are Canadians before describing his disappointment in the term “un-Canadian”.

    ——————————————————

    And this particular debate reminds me of a rather amusing opinion piece worth perhaps a few more chuckles for you. Dr. Ted Baehr, founder and publisher of MOVIEGUIDE® and Chairman of The Christian Film & Television Commission, and Dr. Tom Snyder, editor of Movieguide wrote in Washington Post an article with a title “Americans Want Movies with Morals, Christian Values” which contains the following:

    As we will see during Sunday’s Academy Awards, last year was no exception. Six of the most successful movies of the year — “Wall-E,” “Iron Man,” “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” “Prince Caspian,” “Gran Torino,” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” — contained strong redemptive content with positive Christian references.

    The comic robot hero in “Wall-E” is willing to give up his life and the love of his life to save mankind. In “Iron Man,” the capitalist playboy Tony Stark gets a new heart, gives up his life as a cad who doesn’t care about his country and battles evildoers.

    “Prince Caspian” shows that prideful faith in self has to give way to faith in the Christ figure of Aslan, who saves Narnia at exactly the right moment in time. A priest teaches a gruff atheist that love and sacrifice are better than revenge in Clint Eastwood’s “Gran Torino,” which was unfairly snubbed by the Oscars this year. Finally, in “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” Indiana Jones hears the words of Jesus Christ in a church as he finally does the right thing and marries his beloved, the mother of his son.

    It was also the year that “Kung Fu Panda” showed that there is no hidden occult secret and that anyone can obtain greatness through self-sacrifice. The Christian movie, “Fireproof,” earned much more money than any other movie released by small independent film studios. And, it cost less to make than most indie movies.

    The comments section is worth a read. As for me, I am just confused. Did these two gentlemen mean that the Kung Fu Panda is a Christian?

  54. goodtalker Says:

    Falun Gong is a “cult” and should be exposed for its dangerous, fraudulent practices in spiritual deception. I am not an advocate for China – they need to improve their human rights record, but I am against cults of any sort, and Falun Gong is definitely a cult. Their followers are vicious as attack dogs when provoked by any who speaks up against them. They suppress anything they feel is a threat to their cult – this article illustrates an example of their suppression and hypocrisy. The “Cult of Falun Gong” should not be considered a benign, or healthy, form of exercise either – which is what they would like people to believe with their “Qi-Gong, or Tai-Chi” excercises they do in the parks – this is just a “recruiting” ground for them. Be very suspicious of them – they prey on the elderly, people who are depressed, those who are spiritually empty, or have a terminal illness. Unfortunately, they can not offer any real cures – just lies about a mythological, spinning energy wheel within the body, that is about as “real” as a “wooden boy” turning into a real, human boy – just fairy tales. Watch how they try and attack me for exposing them as frauds. The Nazis would be proud of Falun Gong for the complete suppression tactics they employ upon those who seek to expose them as a cult and not a religion.

  55. Wukailong Says:

    I don’t object to everything the poster in #54 wrote, but I’m just noticing that it only took 54 comments to bring nazism into the discussion. I thought it would take at least a hundred.

  56. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Leo #52:
    “According Canadian values, you are certainly free to be judgmental and to imagine what might or might not be un-Canadian.” – you bet your Lifesavers I am, pal.

    “But I’m not totally sure about insulting people with different views by questioning their personal identity.” – HUH? Who did I insult? Who’s personal identity have I questioned?

  57. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To WKL #55:
    that’s funny. Actually, Leo got the Nazi (well, Nazi-Canadian) ball rolling at #48.

    FLG is sounding more and more like Scientology. All they’re missing is their own Tom Cruise. But I didn’t know Tai-Chi fell under the same umbrella. That means no more morning walks in the park 🙂

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