My Problem With Falun Gong

Police detain an FLG protester

Yeah, you can probably figure out what the title means.

Astute readers of our site, or others gifted with vision, will have noticed that I made a post about a certain cult recently that was not well received. Before we get to the meat, I need to come clean about something: I recently got access to uncensored internet and couldn’t find any FLG ads on the GIFC website. The Washington Post article I was working off said that there were ads on their software download page, which I found concerning, but I don’t see any advertisements, FLG-related or otherwise, when I visit their site myself. A rare WaPo error, or am I missing something here?

In any event, as a direct result of that post I’ve been conducting an extensive discussion with commenter J. Zhang via email about FLG in general. He, and others, have suggested that I am biased against FLG. In a way, this is true, although “bias” suggests prejudice without reason, and I do have my reasons. Since we’ve already attracted some of the faithful and people seem to be interested in talking about it, I thought I would rehash a little bit of our discussion here.

For the record — and please feel free to ignore this part when you’re accusing me of being a callous jerk and/or 五毛党 in the comments — I am not a supporter of the way the Chinese government has persecuted FLG members. I would love to see more evidence for any of the claims made on either side, but regardless, it seems fairly clear that terrible things are happening and have happened.

However, I don’t see that as being particularly related to FLG. Granted, they’re the biggest group that’s aroused this level of ire, but the government deals with dissidents, petitioners, and protesters of all sorts in similar ways. FLG members are hardly the only people who’ve been tortured and killed in the hands of the CCP over the past decade. High-profile dissidents like Liu Xiaobo and Tan Zuoren get lengthy prison terms, but the fate of the less-well-known can be decidedly worse. The persecution of FLG is perhaps more centralized and organized, but that doesn’t make it more widespread, nor does it make it more evil. The persecution of FLG is a symptom, not the disease, and there are other symptoms that are equally important. What the “disease” is is something impossible to answer fully in the scope of a short blog post, but in brief, it is lack of government oversight and lack of the rule of law.

But my problems with the F*l*n G*ng start closer to home. Though proponents allege that there is “no organization” and “no leader”, there is an official website1, and the writings on that website come almost entirely from the group’s founder and the origin of their beliefs, Li Hongzhi. These writings, along with Li’s lectures, make it clear that the religion/cult has ties to a number of media organizations, such as the Epoch Times, which Li himself visited to give a lecture last year.

Ostensibly, the Epoch Times is an independent organization that strives to “present a diversity of opinions”. In reality, they are widely-known among China watchers as an FLG publication that frequently advocates FLG-friendly policies. Chief among these, and omnipresent in nearly everything created by FLG-affiliated groups, is the drive to get Chinese people to quit the Communist Party. In fact, Epoch Times staff members — operating in their official capacities — have held press conferences and rallies promoting the Nine Commentaries and denouncing the CCP. Yet there is no admission of any connection to FLG or to their advancing a specific political agenda anywhere on their website or in their newspaper.

In the case of the Epoch Times, this may not matter (everyone already knows who writes it), but this kind of bait-and-switch unethical presentation is typical of FLG-affiliated outreach efforts. Just take, for example, one of their recent cultural shows, billed as a celebration of Chinese New Year that was kid-friendly. According to the New York Times, horrified audience members, many of whom had paid exorbitant ticket prices, discovered a few performances into the act that the whole thing was a agitprop piece that contained violent scenes of prison abuse. Dozens, perhaps hundreds, walked out of Radio City Music Hall in the middle of the show.

I find this lack of transparency bizarre and concerning. I have no problem with FLG advancing a political or religious agenda, but they should not try to cloak it as traditional media or apolitical entertainment. This is dishonest and off-putting.

My bigger problem with FLG, though, is the anti-CCP political agenda they advance. Make no mistake, I am not pro-CCP; however, everything I’ve read from FLG is woefully unclear as to what, exactly, they want the CCP to be replaced with. This strikes me as a rather important detail. Chinese historians will recall that the corrupt Qing dynasty was overthrown in the early twentieth century only to be replaced by a government that was, for all intents and purposes, just as bad (if not worse2 ).

An excerpt from my most recent email to J. Zhang:

I think [FLG’s] approach of trying to destroy the CCP is completely useless until there is something better with which to replace it. Regardless of their treatment of dissenters, I think life under the CCP is preferable to life under warlordism again, so the CCP needs to be either (a) reformed from within or (b) overthrown by some group so exceedingly powerful that it can quickly take control of the entire country to prevent a disastrous transition period. Everything I’ve seen from FLG (which granted isn’t everything they’ve written) is pretty vague on what exactly they want to happen after the CCP falls, and I think it’s pretty naive to assume that the next regime would be any better. The problem isn’t the CCP, really — I suspect any party in a one-party state is likely to commit similar abuses, especially with no real rule of law or oversight.

And while I would love to see the those who have abused power be out of it, that needs to happen under the right conditions. Given what happened after the fall of the Qing dynasty (and the geographic distribution of weapons and power in the Chinese military now) it’s not hard to imagine what could happen if the CCP were to be felled by a civil war or a coup…

In short: CCP policies have been a disaster for FLG members. But if the CCP disappeared tomorrow, that would probably be a disaster for EVERYONE in China, [FLG members included].

Anyway, I have probably ranted long enough. Readers! Begin assaulting my reasoning, character, and whatever else you can sink your claws into in 3…2…1!


  1. If you’re in China I might avoid clicking this link, unless you’re really desperate for some tea. []
  2. Incidentally, I believe Yuan Shikai’s picture appears in the dictionary next to the entry for “terrible ruler” []


48 Comments

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  1. B-real

    Just to let you know this Post can’t be viewed with out a vpn. I think F*l*n+ G*ng set off the GFW.

    • As if this piece was intended for the P.R. Chinese audience. No, it’s more of a “soft power” approach to deal with laowai support for FLG, or any other outfit that is “disharmonous” to the powers to be in Beijing.

      • Kris78

        There are a few laowai behind the GFW who would also like to read this post.

        • Sorry, my fault. Custer actually asked me to check the page for things that would trigger the GFW and I had forgot to edit the post’s URL. Ugh, a day went by before I realized (wasn’t following the comments on this post). Thanks for the heads-up, B-Real.

          • bai ren

            reading this from a domestic connection in harbin without a vpn etc. problem fixed or a hole in the bamboo wall?

  2. I’m still waiting for the article entitled“My Problem with the Communist Party of China”

    Either;

    * You don’t have a problem with them

    or

    * You’re a paid shrill

    or

    * You’re pants shittingly terrified of being refused a Visa the next time you want to travel to China

    Which one is it?

    • If you were in C. Custer’s shoes in P.R. China – I think you would know the answer already. Have to remember kiddies – P.R. China is a Communist country, and as such – draws a great deal of “progressives” from around the world.

    • t.c.

      I have a big problem with foreigners putting Chinese “Tai-Ji” symbol on their flag and criticizing Chinese government on everything.

    • friendo

      “You’re a paid shrill”

      It’s SHILL PeePee, SHILL.

      Or maybe you are just typing out your accent, shu-ril-u-NIDA!

    • The third one, obviously. If you want to know what I think about the CCP, read ChinaGeeks. But you’ll never see a post like that, because my fiancee lives in China and I’m not particularly interested in being blacklisted for doing something so stupid and useless.

      • “If you want to know what I think about the CCP, read Chi­naGeeks. But you’ll never see a post like that, because …”

        In which case is it not fair to say that you are in some way compromising your own beliefs to appease the implicit threat of retribution inherent in the CCP’s intolerance of criticism?

        The Chinese government are telling you that if you dare to say X, Y, or Z, you’ll suffer the consequences, and you choose to mollify them with self-censorship. Or at least that’s how it reads to me.

        Full disclosure: when teaching at universities in China and students wanted my opinion on certain ‘sensitive’ issues, I’d pull my punches – particularly in the classroom. I did this for two reasons: first, I didn’t want to offend anyone to the point that I’d be accused of the nebulous ‘interfering in China’s internal affairs’, which was a contractual clause. Second, and contrary to the opinions of some, I’m aware that you get nowhere in China with ‘in your face’ arguments that contradict the party line.

        But my starting point was never that the CCP should be invited to share an ice-cream cone lest they take offence.

        More on topic, I share some of your concerns about the FLG, but surely the CCP don’t need to employ such crude measures to marginalise their influence.

        And yet they continue to do so.

      • I find it amusing that people can follow Custer’s comments and posts and pretend they don’t already know what his problems are with the CCP.

        • No offense Kai – but not everyone in the peanut gallery is up to date on what SPECIFIC issue that are effecting C. Custer. As for the “Blacklist”… anyone going into P.R. China damn well should know that before going in. Then again – how many folks tend to forget with “P.R.” stands for?

      • Join the club, C. Custer – join the club… we all want to make sure that our love ones will be able to visit their family without harrassment and/or threat of brutal death. Yet, what is the old saying? “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” As it stands, the CCP had demanded total loyality in the past. Should that policy be implemented again… better have a good “out plan” for you and the missus.

  3. Scylla

    Just to clarify: if members of an apparently non-violent group have been tortured/executed/imprisoned by an authoritarian government, you don’t believe that the group should speak or act against that government unless/until they can provide an unassailable alternative governing structure? I don’t want to Godwin this thread so early – don’t know enough about FLG, frankly – but I find the implications of your position a bit unnerving.

    • friendo

      “apparently non-violent”

      read what you typed. encouraging people not to take medication and then die is not non-violence.

      • Friendo, your use of a double negative makes me think that you’re not even certain of what you just asserted. Look up the definition of violence. I am no fan of dogma, much less dogma that prohibits the use of modern medical devices, but I’m also no fan of those who do violence to language in order to fit their political arguments.

        You’d have to stretch pretty far to suggest that a person willingly joining a religion, taking up anti-medicinal beliefs/dogmas, and then dying as a result of natural illness or police brutality (or whatever else life might throw at you) is a violent act.

    • No, they’re welcome to speak against it; I just think if they want to destroy it, then they ought to have some sort of idea of what would follow it.

  4. F

    I’m not a big fan of the FLG, and agree with some of the things you’ve said above and on the other post.

    But I take issue with this, which you wrote on the last post concerning FLG, and I’m replying to here so it doesn’t get lost on that last one!:

    “China’s rea­sons for per­se­cut­ing FLG prob­a­bly include polit­i­cal ones AND legit­i­mate social causes like the med­i­cine thing”

    I really don’t think there is any legitimate reason for persecution. Surely the whole point is that persecution is itself illegitimate.

    The whole cult/not a cult thing really distracts people from the issues. It’s a pretty much discredited word in sociology, because it’s heavily loaded and inhibits clear analysis. It’s true that some small/new religious groups can have beliefs and practices we find harmful to their members, or are just outright crazy. Others prey on the vulnerable or mask the truth workings of their organisations. But they themselves are not, and shouldn’t be, illegal. Only when they break the law should they be punished – for example, fraud, or Mormons committing bigamy, or keeping people against their will. Aside from this the best way to deal with such groups is the same way we deal with any religious group, that is, by open debate and criticising their harmful beliefs or practices and keeping them separate from the state, or presenting their beliefs as facts in schools etc etc.

    As for the medicine thing with FLG – it’s analogous to Jehovah’s Witnesses and their ban on blood transfusions. Of course it’s tricky because people should be free to believe what they want and refuse medical help if they wish. As regards to children – then obviously this becomes a problem. It’s probably best dealt with through the courts, where possible, to ensure children have their right to medical care fulfilled.

    But to say this is a legitimate reason for persecuting FLG is wrong on many levels. Particularly when the current government of China won’t provide for the medical care of children anyway and will let children suffer if the parents can’t pay the bills.

    • Never said it was a legit reason for persecution, just that it was a legit reason for the gov’t to dislike FLG on its own accord. And while I agree, in a perfect world the issue should be dealt with by the courts, how familiar are you with China’s court system? I don’t think it would be any help at all here.

  5. zball

    As I said in my previous comment, for me, FLG is a mirror image of CCP or even worse. I had no idea what FLG exactly is until my parents’ home phone was bombarded by FLG voice mails around 4 years ago. Those voice messages range from accusation of organ harvest to eulogies of its master. The harassment continued for almost a month and gradually dwindled after my dad plug off the phone line. The way they doing it just like what happened in the commentary sector of Custer’s previous post on FLG – consistent bugging.

    Master Li Hongzhi, if you were as good as what your followers believed, pls. pls. use your almighty power to destroy CCP right away instead of utilizing your followers to do the dirty tricks.

    • Zuo Ai

      FLG is “mirror image of CCP or even worse” because they bombarded your house phone?

      You’re right, that’s WAY worse than kidnapping, torturing, and ultimately killing you. How did you ever recover?

      • zball

        Neither CCP nor FLG has ever kidnapped, or killed any of my firends or family members. However, CCP did not bombarded my house phone.

        For me, FLG is mirror image of CCP or even worse in terms of dilevering its propagander. What’s wrong with
        that?

        By the way, if CCP had kidnapped you, tortured you or in the process of eliminating you. Well, I can see where your point come from. However, don’t try to force your rationale to the person you know nothing about.

        • Zuo Ai

          I will never cease to “force” my “rationale” to people I know nothing about. My rationale forcing might affect you so immensely that you’ll have to take to an internet comment board to defend yourself…can you imagine the anguish…”mirror image of the CCP or even worse”

      • friendo

        The FLG doesn’t have the power to do kidnapping and torture. They do have the power to extort money from their followers and encourage people to behave suicidally.

        If they ever had the power of the CCP, they’d be much more direct with their actions.

    • I think there are many things the FLG engages in that mirror what the CCP engages in, propaganda being one of them in my book, but I wouldn’t say they’re the same or worse overall. It’s probably better to be specific about the similarities you’re criticizing the FLG for.

      In the e-mail discussion with the same commenter Custer mentions in his post, J Zhang, we arrived at the agreement that much of what the FLG does on the propaganda front is indeed quite similar to the CCP and one of the main reasons may be that such tactics are what they’re most familiar with. This was the same scenario with the student and worker protests in Beijing 21 years ago.

      Via Wikipedia:

      Ethan Gutmann, a journalist reporting on China since the early 1990s, sees F*l*n G*ng as an “unplanned child” of the dissident community, one that “marched to a distinctly Chinese drum” in its public representations, carrying some of the uncouthness of Communist party culture. This includes exaggeration, sensationalism, creating torture tableaux “straight out of a Cultural Revolution opera”, a tendency to spout slogans rather than facts,[126] intolerance of criticism, blanket denials when accused, and deflecting blame by charging the other of the same offense. While the CCP/F*l*n G*ng debate is often seen as a zero-sum game, criticism of one is taken as vindication of the other.[123][127] Maria H. Chang of the University of Nevada says F*l*n G*ng’s media and human rights initiatives seem like “front organisations” meant to influence public opinion via a “concerted information-PR-propaganda campaign”—which, she says, is understandable given the experiences of many adherents in the political environment of China, where such tactics are the norm.[123]

      I think this is definitely understandable, but as we agreed in the e-mail, those of us who have been exposed to and aspire to different ideals of how information should be wielded and how support should be rallied will find it distasteful whether it comes from the CCP or the FLG. Propaganda is propaganda, intellectual dishonesty is intellectual dishonesty, wherever it is. To criticize the CCP for it but give the FLG a pass on it is acting on a bias premised on something irrelevant. There should be no reason why people can’t be opposed to the persecution of the FLG yet criticize the FLG for engaging in behaviors reminiscent of those we deplore the CCP for.

      • Zuo Ai

        the guy (zball) explicitly gives his reasoning why FLG is worse or just as bad as the CCP; his parents got some harassing phone calls. Mebbe I’m missing something, but that seems a bit of an exaggeration. When I point this out (oh so subtly), he accuses me of forcing my “rationale”.

        Now, as any man reading this would know, forcing your “rationale” on someone is a serious offense. I mean, this isn’t your dad’s comment section…things have changed.

        btw, @friendo, I especially enjoyed the part where you assert what FLG would do in some hypothetical situation. I always thought they’d use that kinda money on celebrity recruitment ala scientology

      • zball

        Back to roughly 15 years ago, FLG members used to distribute leaflets to all kinds of organizations to promote its philosophy and attract more followers. At that time, FLG was simply viewed as a traditional physical practice to build up people’s health. Like printed media for all kinds of witch dancing ritual (跳大神), the contents were filled with exaggerated power & benefits FLG could deliver provided people practice it. Owing to its innate deficiency on science ground or Li Hongshi’s own education background, many people including myself lost appetite to finish the reading just after skimming through first two or three paragraphs.

        Considering its creed largely comes from what Li Hongzhi had said, I should give credit to the people who are currently running the propaganda engine for FLG. Its current posters are more sophisticated and meticulous comparing to 15 years ago. However, FLG inherits or adopts a very disgusting tactic that CCP used to use back to the period of culture revolution. That is cooking sensational news based on totally unfounded hearsay. The principle is the more alarmists the lie is (no needs of seeking medical treatment, organ farming and organ harvesting, etc), the better chance it could be accepted by its followers. Actually, Custer brought up a very practical suggestion to FLG in his post.

        “I think [FLG’s] approach of try¬ing to destroy the CCP is com¬pletely use¬less until there is some¬thing bet¬ter with which to replace it.” Well, I might be a little bit sarcastic here. I do not think FLG is capable of developing any concrete theory or strategy to replace the CCP, at least now.

        Whew, this would be my last comment on FLG, typing is so damn time consuming.

  6. J. Zhang

    Mr. Custer, New Tang Dynasty Television is another F*l*ng*ng outfit, and they state that in their history section. That must get a smiley face sticker in your dossier.

    One thing I’m wondering is, if you do not think it was the correct approach for F*l*ng*ng to call for Chinese to renounce the Party, what do you think would be the best way for them to get the persecution to end? Note that until late 2004 they protested, sent letters, etc., and did not directly oppose the CCP. But when those who protested were themselves arrested and tortured to death, that approach becomes a problem. I am just curious about what you think their strategy should have been, assuming you think these people have a right to attempt to end the persecution against them.

    • pug_ster

      FLG reminds of the rogue version of Republican’s ‘party of no.’ As one person mentions in the other thread, they are hell bent on destroying the CCP, but are they going to replace it with? Personally, I think the Chinese government has done a great service by preventing the 2nd coming of Taiping rebellion.

      Personally I think FLG’s motto “Truth­ful, Com­pas­sion, Tol­er­ance” is just a paradox. Were FLG truthful when they sell tickets to their “New Years Gala” and “Shen Yun performance arts” thinking that they are going to see Chinese culture and dance, instead being forced to watch anti-ccp propaganda? This kind of garbage show reinforces the ideas that Chinese people are deceitful.

      What kind of compassion or tolerance towards people does FLG have toward others who doesn’t share their beliefs? By going ‘in your face’ to others who make a snarky remark about FLG? Do you seriously think you can change other people’s opinions by protesting in some Chinese embassy, tourist site, or in some community with many Chinese?

      I recall that about 2 years ago after the Sichuan earthquake there were some FLG protesters actually celebrated with signs like “Bad Karma for China.” This angered many Chinese people. This shows how out of touch these FLG people are.

      • friendo

        What kind of com­pas­sion or tol­er­ance towards peo­ple does FLG have toward oth­ers who doesn’t share their beliefs?

        Absolutely none. You will be slowly destroyed on an unimaginable time scale when judgment day comes.

        Hahahaha!

    • friendo

      what do you think would be the best way for them to get the per­se­cu­tion to end

      By not killing/stealing from their members, to stop lying and making things up, to stop harassing and trying to intimidate people who expose their lies, to stop heckling Hu Jintao at speeches, to stop celebrating the deaths of innocent Chinese.

      How about those to start?

    • Stay underground. If it’s really just a system of beliefs with “no organization” and “no leader”, what can the gov’t possibly do? Arrest everyone in China who does Tai qi? (Perhaps this is tempting fate, but I assume they would not do that)

      FLG do have a right to attempt to end the persecution, of course, but I don’t think that in the current situation they can accomplish anything productive by exercising that particular right.

      They’re better off focusing their efforts on trying to develop the rule of law so that their lawyers don’t keep getting arrested for no reason.

      • AndyR

        “FLG do have a right to attempt to end the per­se­cu­tion, of course, but I don’t think that in the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion they can accom­plish any­thing pro­duc­tive by exer­cis­ing that par­tic­u­lar right.”

        If they have a right to do so, then why do you have such a “problem” with them? How would “staying underground” and silencing themselves actually be helpful in “ending the persecution”? I don’t know of any persecution that has ended through a group’s members not retaliating in some form. Even MLK and Gandhi “resisted” persecution albeit non-violently through protest and through education campaigns (might add that both of those movements had religious inspirations). If either of them had simply “stayed underground” would thing have gone better or more quickly?

        If you don’t like how they exercise their rights, then don’t read Epoch times, don’t go to their events, and probably better yet, don’t write 2 blog posts within a week giving them free advertising on your site. Maybe you should take your own advice and “stay underground” with your opinions on the matter because controversial posts like this just give this so-called “cult” more attention.

        I really can’t believe that your answer to FLG’s drawing attention to China’s abuses is to simply “shut-up”. Shall Ai Weiwei shut-up as well? How about Tan Zuoren? These people are fighting for the similar things, just not under the banner of a religion. Your hang-up is with religious motivation in general, which seems to come from a illogical bias. Christian groups spread their religion in China often touting the same opposition to the human rights situation. Do you have a problem with Christian groups drawing attention to “persecution” and HR abuses in the name of their religion as well?

        I’m not religious, I’m an atheist in fact, but I strongly disagree with your implication that religious groups should have no strong public voice regarding social issues or that their voice is counter-productive. I may disagree with the motivation behind some of their views, but that does not mean they should be condemned or silenced.

  7. wgj

    FLG is “apparently non-violent” only to its followers and people who don’t know much about it. To be fair, many of its follower are certainly good-hearted and non-violent, but there are those — especially people holding positions in the non-existing organization — who are willing to defend it through whatever means possible, just like any other religious fanatics in the world history.

    As someone who’s participated in the grassroots anti-FLG movement long before the Zhongnanhai incident that made it an enemy of the state, I can attest to the extremist nature of some vocal followers even at a time before they were collectively befallen by the persecution complex.

  8. wgj

    Actually, Article 35 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China clearly states:

    “[…] The state protects normal religious activities. No one may make use of religion to engage in activities that disrupt public order, impair the health of citizens or interfere with the educational system of the state. Religious bodies and religious affairs are not subject to any foreign domination.”

    Telling people to refrain from medical treatment clearly “impair(s) the health of citizens” and is therefore very much illegal in China. “Disrupting public order” and “interfere with the educational system of the state”? Duh! Now, I won’t even start on the subject of “foreign domination” …

  9. wgj

    Don’t worry: I’m sure he — and many other people — will be writing “My Problem with the CCP” the day after the American government donates one and a half million dollar to the China Communist Youth League.

  10. I don’t really have any problem with FLG itself, not more than I do with any other idiotic pseudo religion.

    From what I hear and read, the group isn’t very strict in sticking to its own values, especially the one about “truth”. but again, that’s religion for you.

    The only thing I see as worth looking into is how much lobbying power the group has in Washington and how, if at all, this affects US-China relations.
    (Also true, though less crucial, for FLG activities in other industrialised countries).

  11. AndyR

    “I have no prob­lem with FLG advanc­ing a polit­i­cal or reli­gious agenda, but they should not try to cloak it as tra­di­tional media or apo­lit­i­cal enter­tain­ment.”

    Custer, you are just digging a hole here. First, you killed yourself at the beginning of this post by referring to FLG as a “cult”. That one word is so loaded that you throw any focused discussion of the matter out from the very beginning. If you really want to engage a pro-FLG audience in a rational discussion, I suggest you don’t start off the post by insulting them. Let’s be fair here, you seem to like to make the (true) point the the CCP is not the monolithic totalitarian evil machine that many people want to paint it as, so it’s a little lazy to then turn around and use a term like “cult” to refer to FLG, no?

    Further, to your comment that I have highlighted above. How is what FLG does ANY different from how any other religious organization in the United States present their beliefs? Extreme Christian groups “secularize” their political and religious messages in the same way through rock music, mainstream movies, etc. They all do the same thing because selling spirituality under the guise of apolitical secular activities is how you rope people in these days. If you are going to condemn the FLG, then at least make sure that your readers understand that you despise the same behavior from the popular religions as well because your so-called “problem” with FLG is not actually unique to their organization.

  12. lossofmind

    I can relate to your feelings in this post. Chicks often call me sexist and I’m really not. I just think a womans place is in the kitchen… and that they should only speak when spoken to. But im not sexist. Im not.

  13. bai ren

    Frist learnt about the FLG in a philosophy of sci class when a boy of european decent like myself started bringing up a shit load of wierd questions, reffering to things such as how the vibration of the sound of a certian praryer can make ice freeze in a way that looks like the chinese character 爱. later in vicotria (a capital city in canada) started to read the epoch times. I was excited by the 9 commentaries, but after the thrid or 4th gave up as it became VERY religious. One day at the university a rented truck with a large sign about how many had resigned from the CCP (2 million or something like that) drove round and round with ppl shouting form it. another day they had a photo gallery at the uni with photos of people in prion camps and haveing their organs removed.

    My problem with the FLG? They are like JHs or chritian scientists, telemarketers etc. Being desturbed at your home with someone wanting to spread their message sucks… being required to devote yourself so wholly to a group creats power relations that are easily abused.

    My lack of a problem with the FLG? though they are not explicit about their connections with diff organization, it epoch times etc. they are no worse than any religious group. A story out of Surry BC Canada last month told about how 2 local (one provicinal and one national) polititions were explicitedly not invited to a Sik (this is a religion from India which combines hindu and muslim beliefs) parade. On a public radio show the organizer of the parade said that these two often make statements which anger people and their safty could not be protected. The city’s mayor and the primier contacted the RCMP with concerns about this.

    Had the same thing happened. some religious group annoucing on the radio that some politiions might get beaten up if they come to the parade, the organizer and radio host would probably be thrown in jail, the radio station shut down and who knows what else.

    The FLG is a delicate subject, one can’t take a lot of what they say as fact. Lots of their activities cant be easily embraced. But maybe some ppl feel that way about netizens. We would hope that dialoge would be supported to give netizens space to exist and not be rounded up etc. The FLG is a talking point, like many others, to challange the ccp on, to enage and spark change in. (yea im a bloody idealist)

    as far as needing to provide a modle for a replacement gov. Custer gives their demand for the disolution of the CCP too much credit. Lots argue for the end of governments without offering a replacement. but the discussion of what would happen in the wake of a ccp breakdown reminds me of the ‘spring and autumn’ sinario that Chalmers Johnson talked about, where the costal south splits off with its own civil society, the north remaind an industrial communist base and the west splits off more third world than it is now.

    sorry for the length

  14. lolz

    Interesting point brought up by Custer at the end.

    More interesting that people are going after Custer personally rather his points. I can only wish some of the China bashers here can start up their own blogs and post some of their own original takes on things. It’s ironic that the China bashers push for independent thinking, yet when someone actually thinks independently and offers different ideas, the China bashers suddenly want the independent thinkers to shut up. FLG acts in the same way. Hypocrisy at its best.

  15. lolz

    I am surprised no one has brought up Germany and Scientology yet. Basically in Germany Scientology is regarded as an exploiting cult. Unlike China German Scientologists are not thrown into jail. Instead they face discrimination when it comes to employment. No political party will take Scientologists and checking the box for Scientology (Sect) is like checking the box for “I have committed a crime in the past” in the job applications. The majority of Germans are anti-Scientology. The German Scientologists’ message is a bit like FLG’s but is clearly not working.

    From what I have read FLG is actually welcomed by many Germans (most of the articles are written by FLG members so I am not too sure). I find this to be odd because FLG is not all that different from Scientology, if not a lot more aggressive when it comes to preaching. Germans are very sensitive to propaganda and should see that FLG extremely propaganda heavy. FLG’s progress in Germany means that FLG tying its movement with the anti-CCP sentiment, especially when it comes to persecution, is extremely successful.

    One thing I like about FLG’s message is how it separates CCP bashing from China bashing. Unlike the Tibetan movement which basically alienated most Chinese, the FLG movement still keeps a lot of the Chinese fans. However, I still don’t see how external forces will change China. As FLG continues to deliever anti-CCP messages with the help of foreign entities, within China it can be accurately portrayed as working with foreign governments to undermine the existing Chinese government. A lot of Chinese people maybe sick of the CCP, but are unlikely to support FLG’s actions to use outside forces destroy the government (another obvious point which a lot of people seem to miss, just because you don’t like FLG doesn’t mean that you love CCP). Thus I don’t think FLG members in China will see much improvement.

    • Bin Wang

      You’re pretty on point lolz. My thoughts went pretty quickly to Germans and Scientology as well. Both are relatively recent religions created out of whole cloth. Along a somewhat similar vein, Mormonism in the U.S. is likewise viewed somewhat suspiciously for the same reasons.

      You’re also correct on your other observation — Mainstream Chinese are unlikely to support a movement backed by foreign influences which attempt to draw the line between being anti-CPC and anti-China/Chinese in general. Firstly, the line is a nuanced one to draw. Second, nothing that’s anti-China anything, politics or government or anything, is viewed without deep suspicion when backed by foreign powers. Again and again, we see the historic mistrust of colonialism surface to give the CPC the benefit of the doubt amongst the Chinese populace — if Beijing says FLG bad, but London/Washington/Berlin/Paris/etc. says FLG bad, Beijing will get the benefit of the doubt everytime.