27th February 2002

The fact that we are all gathered here today will no doubt be carefully noted by the Chinese Communist Government, and it is right that it should be. It shows that the actions against the Falun Gong excite condemnation in influential circles outside China and, together with innumerable meetings and demonstrations in most of the rest of the world, endanger the foreign contracts which the Chinese government want to foster for the sake of China's further progress.

The treatment of the Falun Gong is quite evidently the product of a split in the Chinese Communist Party. Until 1999 the Falun Gong was actually encouraged. It is not that there was proper religious freedom in China in the early 1990s, far from it. Tibetan Buddhism was suppressed, as was Islam in the western provinces, and the only Christianity allowed was Quisling Christianity run by priests subservient to the atheist government. But Falun Gong was encouraged as an outlet for the spiritual side of human nature: in itself a calculation that was unexpectedly imaginative for a government whose philosophy excludes the spiritual. Objectively, the Party saw that these aspirations do exist.

But since the Party denies the validity of the spirit, it can have no real feeling for what it is all about, and this was shown in 1999. Jiang Zemin saw that Falun Gong was becoming big and he decided that the policy of encouraging it should be reversed. It is size that is respected and feared by materialists. They have no conception of the inner strength of a spiritual movement and it is this inner strength that is frustrating the Communists' attempt to suppress Falun Gong as it frustrated Nero's attempt to suppress Christianity in ancient Rome.

In fact the earlier tactic of the Chinese Communists was the correct one. When not persecuted, a spiritual movement presents no danger to a secular government. Jesus Christ told his followers to 'render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's' and Li Hongzhi has often made equivalent statements. Even after the persecution started, he said the Communist government was a good government. But this position cannot be maintained when Falun Gong is subject to a persecution more severe than anything which happened during the Cultural Revolution.

What can we in the West do?

Quite a bit. The Chinese Communists are by no means indifferent to world opinion. They know that the progress of this country will be hindered and stultified if they are isolated by world disapproval. They are seeking to strengthen their links with the world at large: why otherwise would they have made such efforts to secure the 2008 Olympics, why were they so delighted when they were given them?

These very Olympic Games, if Falun Gong is still being persecuted in 2008, will be turned into a public relations disaster for the Communists. Hundreds of thousands of foreigners will flock to China and many of them will be Falun Gong supporters because Falun Gong is now a worldwide movement. How will the police search out the Falun Gong supporters from among the visitors without causing offence to all the others? Falun Gong banners will appear from nowhere among the spectators and feature on the television screens of the world. Some of the performers may well stage demonstrations. What if a gold medallist practises the exercises on the podium?

In the meantime it is important that, in every country in the world, attention is drawn constantly to the disgraceful behaviour of the Communist authorities to people whose practices and beliefs pose no kind of threat.

Lord Moyne