Print Reviews

Falun Gong’s Challenge to China

by Danny Schechter

Akashic Books

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Subtitled “Spiritual Practice or ‘Evil Cult’,” this report and reader could go a long way to educating western minds to the exercise practice known as “Falun Gong” and the problems the group has suffered under the hands of the repressive Chinese government. The keyword here is “could.” Thousands of Falun Gong adherents have been jailed, detained, and in some cases killed in Chinese prisons, but worldwide media attention has been scant to their plight.

Falun Gong is a set of exercises with some minor philosophic commentary woven in – not exactly a force that will topple a government, correct? However benign the group is, the Chinese government seems focused on its destruction, declaring the group an “evil cult,” and outlawing it in 1999. China does not seem to like groups of people congregating for any reason, and the punishments it metes out for those who do so are harsh. This book is filled with accounts of people jailed and tortured for practicing Falun Gong, accounts that seem so extreme when read in a culture such as ours that allows free assembly and some measure of free speech. A list of resources are added for those who feel motivated upon reading the book, to do more.

The leader of Falun Gong is one Li Hongzhi, who fled China and is now operating out of New York City, conducting business via the Internet. Not that the people left behind in China will know any of this, of course. China has had the cooperation of AOL’s Steve Case, who, in a shameful display of blind greed, helped the Chinese government restrict AOL to make it more controllable by the state, and limit the amount of information that the average Chinese can gather. Rupert Murdoch wasn’t far behind, agreeing to censor his satellite broadcasts at the behest of the Chinese government in order to open the vast, untapped market that is China. Who cares if they run prison camps in violation of international law, torture and murder innocent citizens? Just as long as big business isn’t slowed, which in this case means having plenty of cheap labor available (in prison work camps) to make our basketball shoes, DVD players, and blue jeans, we allow the Chinese to do whatever they please. And now, with the awarding of the Olympics to Beijing, groups such as Falun Gong will find themselves even more pressured to disband or hide – the Chinese will risk no repeat of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations on live television. And the west will go along with it, as long as the checks don’t bounce.

Akashic Books: http://www.akashicbooks.com


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