An Examination of The "Self-immolation" Incident Reveals the Deceptive Practices of the Xinhua News Agency (Photos)
(Clearwisdom.net) Recently, the Xinhua News Agency once again revisited the "Self-immolation" incident of January 23, 2001 in yet another attempt to defame Falun Gong.
We sympathize with the victims of the self-immolation. It was a tragedy for all of them and their families. The truth of this incident is still unknown to many people in the world, as the Chinese government still hides and blocks information. But the public reports by the Xinhua News Agency and China Central Television (CCTV) are filled with obvious discrepancies that clearly show they are lying. Clearwisdom.net has done a thorough job of carefully analyzing these matters. The few scenes that gave me the strongest impressions were the following: The little girl, Liu Siying, who supposedly had been given a tracheotomy, was able to speak and sing with a clear voice. It would be indeed a miracle of medicine if this were true. Also, a very seriously burned victim was shown tightly wrapped in gauze, which is totally against common medical practice. All the clothing of the show's main character, Wang Jindong, was burned, but the green plastic Sprite bottle filled with gasoline that he held between his legs was totally intact. A policeman leisurely dangles a fire-extinguishing blanket over Wang's head for quite a while, waiting for Wang to yell a few senseless sentences [reported by the Xinhua News Agency to be Falun Gong sayings] before extinguishing the fire.
Here, we don't intend to repeat the discussion of the details of those foolish mistakes in the staged act. They are already well known to people inside and outside of China, owing to Falun Gong practitioners' efforts to explain the facts. In this article we want to take a broader view and examine the reporting style of Xinhua News Agency. I believe that this incident will become a case study of how Xinhua News Agency distorts the news. It will stand alongside other classic cases of similar distortions by the Chinese communist regime, including the "plot of the counter-revolutionaries" in the fifties, "Ten thousand kilos of grain per acre per year" during the "Great Leap Forward" in the early sixties, the portrayal of National Chairman Mr. Liu Shaoqi as a traitor and thief in the late sixties, and concealing information about "SARS" in 2003. (1)
Question 1: Why does the Chinese government dare not let reporters from Clearwisdom.net participate in the news coverage?
Xinhua News Agency reported a few days ago that, "All domestic and foreign reporters covered the news." But the time, location, subjects and dialogue were all controlled by the Chinese government. Such news coverage is reminiscent of the days when Nazi concentration camp authorities invited the news media from many countries to cover them, and is also similar to the case in which the former Soviet Union invited friendly left-wing reporters to cover their great famine. The reporters in such news coverage either had no way to actually obtain actual facts, or were chosen because of their willingness to report propaganda as fact.
If the Chinese government has nothing to hide, why not let Western reporters interview the thousands of Falun Gong practitioners in China held under supervision? Why not let them hear the practitioners' experiences of improving their health and morality after practicing Falun Dafa, or let them hear practitioners' stories of being tortured because of their perseverance in upholding their freedoms of belief and speech?
Why do they need to block Clearwisdom.net, which reports on Falun Gong in a positive way? Why do they dare not allow Clearwisdom.net reporters to go to China and visit the prisons and labor camps, to freely gather information without restrictions, and to announce their findings openly in mainland China?
Question 2: Why does self-immolation not occur in Taiwan or Western countries?
Xinhua News Agency insisted that Falun Gong was responsible for the self-immolation incident. But there are hundreds of thousands of practitioners in Taiwan, where they share the same Chinese culture as people on the mainland. Why has no self-immolation occurred there? In Europe and the United States there are also many practitioners. Why has there been no self-immolation? In Mainland China there are tens of millions of practitioners, so why were there no other cases of self-immolation apart from the one reported by Xinhua News Agency? Clearly it is because no true Falun Gong practitioner would ever do such a thing.
According to an investigation after the incident by a Washington Post reporter, Ms. Liu Chunling was discovered to be a call girl in Kaifeng City, Henan Province. Her neighbors had never seen her practice Falun Gong. All other information about her was provided by Xinhua News Agency, and there has been no independent verification. Even if these people had practiced Falun Gong for a few days, can one then blame Falun Gong for their extreme actions?
Falun Gong teachings clearly state that practitioners cannot kill or commit suicide. Even if these people were to call themselves practitioners, can one blame Falun Gong when they were not following the teachings of Falun Gong? Wouldn't this be like blaming a car manufacturer if a drunk driver caused an accident?
In South Vietnam, some Buddhist monks immolated themselves in a protest against the government for its corruption and cruelty towards the people. In South Korea, some students immolated themselves in a democracy movement to protest against the ruling dictatorship. In Taiwan, some people immolated themselves to protest against the construction of a nuclear power plant. Can one blame those incidents on Buddhism, democracy, or the anti-nuclear movements?
Xinhua News Agency tries its best to link the self-immolation case to Falun Gong with the intention of stirring up hatred towards Falun Gong to justify the government's brutal persecution. But in fact, the self-immolation was created by the persecution itself.
Question 3: Why does Xinhua News Agency not report the other recent self-immolation tragedies of mistreated citizens?
Every year Xinhua News Agency repeats its fallacies about this particular self-immolation incident, which occurred four years ago, but they purposely cover up the recent stories in Beijing in which mistreated people who could not find any help set themselves on fire.
According to CCTV, on January 18, 2004, a worker in China immolated himself because he could not get the salary owed to him. He burned himself in a building near the Beijing Western Bus Station, and was seriously injured with burns over 30 percent of his body.
Radio Free Asia reported on January 17, 2004 that two elderly men burned themselves near Zhongnanhai (the central government compound) in Beijing on Tuesday, which caught the public's attention. But the Chinese government has kept silent on the incident.
Central News reported on May 21, 2004 that despite Beijing being China's most affluent city, a woman there burned herself out of desperation because she was unable to support herself and was denied low-income assistance.
Self-immolation incidents such as these occur quite often in China. Besides Beijing, other places also see many of these incidents from downtrodden and desperate people. Why does Xinhua News Agency not devote more attention to those self-immolation incidents they cannot possibly blame on Falun Gong?
Xinhua News Agency tries its best to cover up the true self-immolation stories of people who are so desperate and in such despair that they feel they cannot go on living. They do so to avoid embarrassing those in power. But for this particular incident, that was manipulated or fabricated by officials behind the scenes, Xinhua News Agency reports it with great fanfare in order to defame Falun Gong. It is obvious that Xinhua News Agency is not a true news media. Rather, it is a political tool for those in power, and deception is the only purpose of its existence.
The author of this report is a volunteer for Clearwisdom.net. In contrast, Tian Yu and a few others working for Xinhua News Agency are full-time reporters dedicated to deceiving and misguiding their readers. The author wants to appeal to Mr. Tian and others at Xinhua to regain their consciences. They should report more on the plight of the people and the greediness of officials, rather than trying to deceive the people by praising those in power and slandering the innocent. If they do not want to be held responsible for their actions in the future, these reporters should stop their wrongdoings today.
Wang Jindong during the self-immolation incident at Tiananmen Square.
The Sprite bottles used for gasoline containers in between Wang's legs was suspiciously unburned and fully intact after the fire.
Three pictures of "Wang Jindong" indicate that his role was played by different people.
Normal treatment for a burn victim: Doctors and nurses wear protective clothing and masks, and the burn victim is exposed to the air in a sterile environment to avoid infection.
CCTV's report, "Tiananmen Square Self-immolation Incident," shows the burn victim fully wrapped in gauze. The reporter wears no protective clothing or mask, and is shown interviewing the victim without any concern for spreading infection.
(1) All of these stories are examples of the way the Chinese Communist Party uses The Xinhua News Agency to deceive the Chinese people and the world.