Voice of America End-of-Year Report: Falun Gong Protest Activities Diversify
January 7, 2003
VOA reporter Wei Wei's January 7th, 2003 report (originally in Chinese):
Ever since the Chinese government denounced Falun Gong as an illegal organization in July 1999, Falun Gong practitioners around China have been under constant and severe persecution, but their (peaceful) protest activities have never stopped. In the past year, Falun Gong's protest activities have obviously diversified.
Faced with the government's brutal persecution, Falun Gong's protest activities also developed. In previous years, Falun Gong practitioners only held peaceful protests or demonstrated their exercises. In recent years though, Falun Gong contacted newspapers, TV stations, websites and research institutions. They held conferences with various non-governmental organizations in joint discussions regarding China. They even used the official TV system in China to broadcast Falun Gong videos.
At first, what upset the Chinese government most was that the TV satellite signals were intercepted many times and the videos of Falun Gong contents were shown. This not only made the Chinese leaders lose face, it also shows the endurance of the Falun Gong movement.
Falun Gong Moves Onto the International Stage
Former liaison news reporter Zhang Weiguo from the World Economic Guide in Beijing and currently editor-in-chief of New Observation, thinks one of the changes regarding Falun Gong in the past several years has been its step into the international arena. He said, "My personal feeling is that Falun Gong is walking toward society. Falun Gong has not only been gradually better known by the Chinese people; more importantly, the international society has become aware of them, which made the Chinese government's persecution of Falun Gong a signpost of human rights violations, which attracted increasing attention from the international public opinions, human rights groups, news media and international political organizations."
Zhang Weiguo said, "Falun Gong is currently actively participating in news announcements and other social activities. They blended into the overseas Chinese and mainstream society..." He said, "What is more significant is that Falun Gong practitioners are suing the leaders of the Chinese government for persecuting them and their families through legal procedures in the U.S. They exposed the human rights violations of the government before the world."
When talking about the recent satellite signal interception and broadcast of Falun Gong messages, he said it is yet not certain who did it, but he thinks Beijing used a double standard on this issue, "Whether or not Falun Gong interfered with the satellite signals, this incident itself shows the Chinese government used a double standard when following international communication policies." Zhang Weiguo pointed out that in order to ask others to follow international communication policies, the government itself should set that example. The Chinese government often interferes with international broadcasts from the VOA and other medias, yet it is protesting other people interfering its satellite signals.
Indomitable Falun Gong
When talking about the progress made by Falun Gong during the past several years, a well-known TV program producer, Danny Schechter, author of the book Falun Gong's Challenge to China, first mentioned their indomitable spirit. "I think the primary success obtained by Falun Gong is that, in spite of the Chinese government using all kinds of means to ban and suppress Falun Gong and detain Falun Gong practitioners, and in spite of the Chinese government's efforts to derogate its image through the public media, Falun Gong not only exists, it also continuously grows bigger and stronger. Secondly, the Falun Gong group has tried their best to keep its high exposure at the international media and often casts a shadow on Chinese high officials' diplomatic activities, including Jiang Zemin and other high officials' foreign visits; thirdly, Falun Gong is now rooted in many different countries."
Schechter thinks the reason for Falun Gong not having become eradicated by the Chinese government was because the people didn't buy what the Chinese government said, including the Chinese government's statement that Falun Gong is [slander omitted]. More importantly, Falun Gong now becomes a meaningful protest movement of critical importance; it is not only fighting for the right of existence for itself; it is also fighting for freedom of religion and human rights. Schechter further analyzed other elements that contributed to the failure of the Chinese government's persecution of Falun Gong. He said that although Falun Gong is very wide spread, it is a group without a visible organizational structure. [...]