The Chinese Government Never Officially "Banned" Falun Gong, Part 1
This article was first published in July 2010
(Minghui.org) After July 20, 1999, media and even scholarly works outside of China have often used the words, "The Chinese government has banned Falun Gong since July of 1999." It is my belief that the Chinese Communist Party has never had a legal basis for its eleven-year persecution of Falun Gong, because the Chinese government never officially banned Falun Gong. I won't delve into the subject of the current Chinese government's legitimacy itself since its inception in 1949 for now, but even according to the Chinese government's own laws, the persecution by the CCP and Jiang Zemin's gang is illegal.
The first cause of most people's confusion is seeing the "CCP" and the "Chinese government" as being interchangeable, or even mixing up the head of the CCP with China the country or the Chinese government as an entity. The second cause is that the CCP intentionally uses this term in its propaganda to confuse public opinion. A third cause is a lack of understanding of what it means to ban something in a legal sense.
I'd like to address each of the three causes for confusion.
I. The truth about the "ban"
A. Regarding the term "ban"
A "ban" can be established in one of two ways. The first is to establish a law declaring a certain activity to be illegal, and the second is to issue an administrative decree. Neither method, however, can violate the Constitution, or else the ban itself is illegal.
So let's take a look at the Chinese Constitution. Chapter 2, Article 35, of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China states, "Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration." Article 36 states, "Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief."
In other words, the Chinese Constitution protects the freedom of belief of Falun Gong practitioners as citizens. In addition to violating the Constitution, preventing Chinese citizens from practicing Falun Gong also violates the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the Chinese government signed in October 1998. In other words, practicing Falun Gong is not illegal in China, but banning it is.
B. About the "ban" itself
On July 22, 1999, Jiang Zemin, Luo Gan and others broadcasted via CCTV and in the name of the Ministry of Civil Affairs, their "Decision to Ban the Falun Gong Research Society", "Notice of Six Prohibitions from the Ministry of Public Security", and "Notice from the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party Forbidding Communist Party Members from Practicing Falun Gong."
None of these three notices, however, amount to Falun Gong being banned by the Chinese government.
The first notice targeted the "Falun Gong Research Society" as an organization, rather than Falun Gong itself. In fact, that ban itself does not stand up. Falun Gong, after approval from the Chinese Qigong Scientific Research Society in 1993, was absorbed as a subordinate entity called the "Falun Gong Research Branch." Mr. Li Hongzhi concluded the teaching of the practice in Mainland China and outside of China in December 1994 and 1995, respectively. From that point on, Mr. Li focused on research of the Buddha Law and stopped the activity of giving Qigong classes. Accordingly, the Falun Gong Research Society formally petitioned for withdrawal from the Chinese Qigong Scientific Research Society in March of 1996, and upon approval from the Chinese Qigong Scientific Research Society, completed the procedures for its dissolution from the research society. Thus, the Falun Gong Research Society ceased to exist from that point on. How could an entity that was dissolved in March of 1996 be banned in July of 1999?
That declaration by the Ministry of Civil Affairs was banning an organization that had been dissolved more than three years prior. As for Falun Gong itself, it has only the cultivation principles of "Truth-Compassion-Forbearance" and the five exercises. Its cultivators come and go as they please, and there are no membership lists or dues, and it does not have an organization. The principles of "Truth-Compassion-Forbearance" reside in the cultivators' hearts, and the exercises are carried out by their bodies. No groups or organizations formed by Falun gong practitioners can be equated to Falun Gong itself. So from any angle, one cannot say that Falun Gong itself was ever banned, nor can it be banned.
As for the crimes that the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Ministry of Public Security branded the Falun Gong Research Society with, they represent typical tactics of the CCP. It can turn fiction into truth and blithely ignore the facts and the law, but expects everyone to follow along, or face its policy to "ruin your reputation, cut you off financially, and destroy you physically."
The "Notice from the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party Forbidding Communist Party Members from Practicing Falun Gong" was an internal communication that applied to Chinese Communist Party members. There are more than a billion Chinese people, but less than a hundred million CCP members. That notice does not decree that "Chinese people" cannot practice Falun Gong. In addition, if one allowed CCP members that are also practitioners to choose between Party membership or being able to practice Falun Gong, many would choose to give up their Party membership. Of course, the CCP only allows members to join or be expelled, but not to leave voluntarily, which is consistent with its cult nature of wanting complete control over people's thoughts and actions.
The notices by the two ministries are both administrative actions, which are subject to the burden of legal proof of their legitimacy. However, neither ministry has provided evidence of their decrees' legal basis, thus depriving them of legal legitimacy. The Ministry of Civil Affairs cited the Regulations for the Registration of Social Organizations to render its decision to declare the Falun Gong Research Society to be an "illegal organization." However, based on the previous note of the Falun Gong Research Society ceasing to exist as of March 1996, it can no longer be declared as an "illegal organization." In addition, the Regulations cited are quite vague, and do not regulate specific actions of a social organization or have legal jurisdiction, so again the decision to call the research society an illegal organization lacks legal basis. The subsequent "Notice of Six Prohibitions from the Ministry of Public Security" was based on the notice from the Ministry of Civil Affairs, so it suffers from the same lack of legal validity.
(To be continued)