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Shen Yun, a political tool of Falun Gong


New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV) and its subordinated Shen Yun Performing Arts, also known as Divine Performing Arts, are both affiliated organizations of evil cult Falun Gong. Since 2004, NTDTV and Shen Yun Performing Arts have launched  shows all over the world in the name of "publicizing traditional Chinese culture" and cheated the public not knowing the truth into the theater for the performance. This article will not only go into details about the quality of performing arts of these shows but also reveal the truth about their propagandizing cultic doctrines of Falun Gong and attacking Chinese government by focusing on their content.

1. Analysis on the Content of Shows staged by Shen Yun Performing Arts

We make an analysis by taking the content of Shen Yun Performing Arts shows as an example.

The programs of Shen Yun Performing Arts shows touring the world can be roughly divided into three categories, that is, programs centering mainly on traditional Chinese culture, programs propagandizing Falun Gong doctrines, and programs making wrong accusation on Chinese government for "persecuting" Falun Gong.

The first category centers mainly on traditional Chinese culture featuring folk dances and music, such as Yi nationality dance "Dance of the Yi", Tibetan dance "Snow-Capped Mountain", "Mongolian Chopsticks Dance", as well as dance dramas "Mulan Joins the Battle", "The Poet's Vision", "Monk Ji Gong Abducts the Bride", and "The Monkey King Triumphs". To pacify the audience and to cover their real intention, these programs were usually staged during the first half of the performance.

Programs of the second category propagandize the doctrine of Falun Gong, such as "Do Not Hesitate", "Giving You Hope", "The Udumbara's Bloom", "Holy Falun King", "The Rotating Wheel of Fa", and "Beauty Leading to Miracles". These programs can further fall into following types:

The first type of programs are used by Li Hongzhi to exert mental control over his believers and all of them boast without exception the "greatness" of Li Hongzhi, Falun Gong, and Dafa disciples, which can be seen clearly through the lyrics of the songs in these programs:

"Do Not Hesitate": "In confusion we wait for the God and the Savior, we're looking forward that the gate of Heaven opens soon. The Creator, the Creator has already been here. The truth passed from practitioners can solve the mystery, Do not hesitate, take this chance in history."

"Giving You Hope": "A soprano sang feelingly, "For whom do we brave the elements? For whom are we bearing hardships despite harsh weather? Standing on the sidewalk, followers of Dafa / Leaflets in hand born of effort and compassion ... / We wish only to share with you a hopeful tomorrow."

The second type of programs tries to deify Li Hongzhi by claiming that he is the reincarnation of Li Shimin the great emperor of Tang Dynasty (618-907) and the Holy Falun King descending to man's world. Since Li Hongzhi used to hint at his origin as the reincarnation of Emperor Li Shimin and the Buddha descending in the world, a large amount of programs of Shen Yun Performing Arts center on this theme:

 "Holy Falun King": "The King of kings descends to our Earth / He saves us by teaching Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance / The King of kings descends to our Earth / He brings us good luck and the law of universe / The Lord turns Falun to remake the cosmos / He turns our ordinary people into gods / Now our Lord is calling people to follow Dafa / Never let the worldly attachments puzzle us / This is a chance once in a thousand years / And do not hesitate over your best choice" The song flatters Li Hongzhi without any reservation as the King of Celestial Kings who came to the man's world to "save the beings" before the doomsday and urges people to join in Falun Gong as soon as possible if they don't want to lose the chance to "become god".

Dance drama "The Udumbara's Bloom" tries to deify Li Hongzhi by claiming that he is Holy Zhuanlun King descending to the man's world.

The third type of programs distorts and claims traditional Chinese culture with a long history of 5,000 years as the so-called "divine culture", and the representative program is "The Five Millennia Begin", the opening program at Shen Yun Performing Arts shows. Falun Gong organization promotes the program by saying that, "China was known as Shenzhou in ancient times, which means the Land Blessed by Gods; and Chinese culture is known as divine culture for the people of China believed their culture as divinely bestowed by gods living together with people. The core of Chinese culture consists of the content of respecting heaven and fate as well as emphasizing moralities and beneficence. But we're sorry to witness that these good traditions have been destroyed in past five decades, resulting in the complete loss of cultural essence that can be dated back to five thousand years ago. Shen Yun Performing Arts comes into being to answer the call of the times and takes it as its mission to inherit and create authentic culture and to revive the true, five-millennia-old artistic tradition of China by praising rustic life and firm beliefs as well as promoting the respect and gratitude toward gods. The dances are classical and elegant with exquisite beauty and the performance is solemn and sublime, which is capable of penetrating into the heart of the viewers and providing audiences everywhere with an experience of sublime beauty."

Programs of the third category of the shows are themed on Chinese government "persecuting" Falun Gong, such as dance dramas "Heaven Awaits Us Despite Persecution", "Dignity and Compassion", and "Knowing the True Picture Offers Ultimate Hope".

 "Heaven Awaits Us Despite Persecution" fabricates the stories about Falun Gong being persecuted and smears the image of both Chinese government and law enforcement officials. According to the interpretation of Falun Gong media, the program describes a group of people in mainland China being brutally persecuted by Communist Party of China for their believing in "Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance" and for practicing Falun Gong but no brutality can shake their firm belief in Falun Gong. With kindness and evil being repaid respectively, the program ends with the practitioners being persecuted to death winning eternal life by overcoming the evil force.

Dancing program "Dignity and Compassion" is also about a fabricated story of a Falun Gong practitioner being persecuted. Falun Gong media explains that the program tells the stories about a Dafa disciples imprisoned in mainland China being tortured and about to die. After the policeman torturing her falls asleep, the Law-Protection God in another space takes away his life so as to punish him for committing the infinite crimes. At the same time, the Dafa disciple has become Bodhisattva and kindly saves his life, informing him about the horrible consequences of participating in the persecution of Dafa disciples. The policeman wakes up and regrets what he has done; he releases the Dafa disciple and begs for her forgiveness.

It shall be noted that, when introducing Shen Yun Performing Arts shows, Falun Gong media usually emphasizes these two programs of "Heaven Awaits US Despite Persecution" and "Dignity and Compassion", both of which center on the theme of attacking Chinese government. According to the report by NTDTV on August 30, 2009, after seeing the show by Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Kennedy Center, separatist Rebiya Kadeer told the reporter, "The show is so good that I can't find the right words for it. Very high level and very good. Democracy, human rights, ancient times, and modern times were all depicted [in the performance]." Rebiya mentioned especially her impression on two dance programs of "Heaven Awaits Us Despite Persecution" and "Dignity and Compassion" about Falun Gong practitioners being persecuted and said, "The persecution on Falun Gong has been well expressed and the performance is beautiful and peaceful as well."

2. The Deceptive Nature of Shen Yun Performing Arts shows

In the name of promoting "traditional culture", Shen Yun Performing Arts presents these shows for more than merely cheating the audience into the theater. By publicizing the "persecution" on Falun Gong, it plans to make the show into an important platform for Falun Gong organization to publicize its cultic theories and to propagandize the heretical ideas of Li Hongzhi in the name of promoting "divine culture" so as to appeal to good-natured Chinese and foreign audiences not knowing the truth and to realize their evil purpose of exerting mind control over them.

Li Hongzhi has said for several times in public that the shows of Shen Yun Performing Arts are organized by local Falun Gong organizations at his order. Instead of entertaining the ordinary people, these shows are "to demonstrate the positive image of Dafa disciples, to save the public, and to clarify about the truth". This shows that the so-called Shen Yun Performing Arts show is no only ordinary artistic performance but also a political tool that Falun Gong organization uses to propagandize cultic doctrines and anti-China theories, to expand its influence and to collect money. In terms of the nature, these shows fool, cheat, and poison the audience by distorting and smearing true traditional Chinese culture.

On the performance list of Shen Yun, there are always several programs based on ancient Chinese stories or folk arts, such as "Mulan Joins the Battle", "The Poet's Vision", "The Loyalty of Yue Fei", "Drummers of the Tang Court", "Monk Ji Gong Abducts the Bride", "Flowing Sleeves", "Snow-Capped Mountain", "The Monkey King Triumphs", "Dance of the Yi", "Mongolian Chopsticks", and "Forsythia in Spring". But as the old Chinese saying goes, a step-mother crying over a kid will definitely change her tone after three cries, the real focus of Shen Yun is on such programs as "Heaven Awaits Us Despite Persecution", "Giving You Hope", "The Udumbara's Bloom", "Dignity and Compassion", "Holy Falun King", "Knowing the True Picture Offers Ultimate Hope", "Let Me Not Regret", and "Be Cautious". And the real purpose is to lead the audience into the scenes of horror and violence during happy holidays and Falun Gong achieves its goal at seeing the audience go back home with a sullen mood.

To hide something instead of exposing everything is actually a deliberate technique that Falun Gong organization adopts to promote its Shen Yun shows and it proves more successful than hard-selling. It's like to season the tasteless meals or serving a dessert before the main course so as to tempt the audience into more programs. This is an experience that Falun Gong organization got through actual practices in past three to four years and works as mental anaesthesia for audience. The organizer knows it clearly that no western audience will accept physically and psychologically the direct political propaganda and "truth clarification" and they will leave the theater during the performance, which is a humiliation for the performers and the organizer. To make things worse, the audience dropping out will also tell others and no one will come to the performance in future; this is the last thing that the organizer wants to see.

But in spite of all the efforts made by the organizer, lots of US-based media have published articles in recent years revealing the truth about the shows by Falun Gong, such as New York Times' A Glimpse of Chinese Culture That Some Find Hard to Watch on February 6, 2008 and Los Angeles Times' Ties to Falun Gong add Controversy to the Chinese New Year Spectacular on January 7, 2008. Some US audiences going to the show without preparation are also aware of the truth later and have written online articles to tell the truth about these shows.

On January 7, 2008, Los Angeles Times published Ties to Falun Gong Add Controversy to the Chinese New Year Spectacular that, "Most of the Chinese community think it's linked too much with political events," Michael Cheung, president of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Assocation, based in downtown Los Angeles said, "I saw the show last year at the Kodak Theatre. Some of the content reflects politics and human rights; it is not exactly art."

On January 9, 2008, the American newspaper Star-Telegram commented in the article Show's Beauty Shaded by Political Message: "The basic message – Falun Gong good, Chinese government bad – could not have been clearer."

On February 6, 2008, the American newspaper New York Times mentioned in A Glimpse of Chinese Culture That Some Find Hard to Watch that more members of the audience "had realized that the show was not simply a celebration of the Chinese New Year, but an outreach of Falun Gong, that is banned in China."

On January 17, Canadian CBC TV broadcasted a news entitled: Chinese New Year Spectacular "just propaganda": Chinese Embassy. The news retailed view of Chinese Embassy in Canada and quoted a letter from a Canadian Chinese saying, "We went there looking for traditional Chinese culture and a celebration of New Year and it wasn't either of those things, really. In the end, I felt deceived."

On January 20, 2008, the Toronto-based Canadian newspaper The Star published an article Falun Gong New Year Event Mere Propaganda, stating: "The production is so heavily laden with Falun Gong messages as to negate any pleasure the dancing and singing might have afforded. Art it wasn't. The choreography was consistently banal, with the performers arranged in rows doing identical gestures. The dancers were under-rehearsed and unremarkable."

On February 25, 2008, the British newspaper Telegraph published an article Shen Yun: Propaganda as Entertainment, claiming "Acrobatics, singing and dancing skills are used in the service of a propaganda exercise on the part of Falun Gong." "Most of the members of the Divine Performing Arts troupe are members of Falun Gong. But their beliefs do not simply form a backdrop to a neutral presentation of traditional Chinese dance and legends. They are the focal point of the evening. Thus the songs boast about the benefit of the laws and principles by which they live." Sarah Crompton, a journalist from the British newspaper Telegraph, said: "What I really object to is that such a politically motivated performance is being smuggled on to stages around Europe in the name of family entertainment."

On Feb. 25, 2008, the Guardian published "Something Creepy" about Falun Gong Performers, saying, "Even if you are sympathetic to the Falun Gong cause, there is something creepy about the evangelical tone with which this is delivered. It is also made worse by the fact that the show's visual style is like a Disney production, with the cast dressed in gaudy, glittery updates of traditional costumes backed by scenes of soft-focus landscape created by computer animation."

On February 25, 2008, the Evening Standard reported Great Pall of China that, "It also reveals much about geo-politics. The company is based in New York and wastes little time bashing the Chinese Communist Party, both in the programme and on stage. You could overlook the politics if the show was any good, but it is dated and sentimental, with comically bad comperes, laughably awful film projections and dance routines that would make panto producers blush."

On March 31, 2008, the Melbourne-based Australian newspaper The Age reported: "Many performers of the show are Chinese exiles who follow Falun Gong. Lead dancer and assistant company manager Vina Lee said the show told traditional spiritual stories suppressed by the Chinese Government."

Because of the political theme, Shen Yun shows have been rejected not only by some countries but also by lots of magnates.

The Malaysian government canceled a dance performance of Falun Gong which was planned to be staged on March 22-23, 2008. According to a ministry official, the Malaysian government revoked the show's permit because the Chinese Embassy complained that the organizers — U.S.-based New Tang Dynasty Television station — were supporters of Falun Gong, a spiritual movement that Beijing bans as a dangerous cult.

New Zealand Herald reported on April 7, 2008 that the Divine Performing Arts show has stirred up controversy. Invited guests are spurning a Chinese cultural performance in Auckland as organisers try to stop a repeat of last year's situation when not a single politician turned up.

The Age released on March 31, 2008, about 130 Victorian MPs were invited to a VIP function on opening night but only seven attended. Four MPs who had accepted invitations cancelled at the last minute, without explanation.

Most articles published by Falun Gong media cited "people of all walks" and sang praised about the "excellent shows". Ironically, these "celebrities", "statesmen", and ordinary audiences in western countries talked about the excellence of the performance in terms of costumes, lighting, and stage set but few of them mentioned the content of these programs. Even if there are a few remarks about the content in these articles, the topics center on "traditional Chinese culture" and few of them is about the impression on Falun Gong. The reason why this happens is because Falun Gong organization intends to fool the western countries by covering their real purpose of launching political propaganda in the name of promoting traditional Chinese culture.

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