WHY IS FALUN GONG PERSECUTED IN CHINA?
During the 1990s, Falun Gong was widely recognized as uplifting public health and morality through its teachings of truthfulness, compassion and forbearance. So why did the Chinese Communist Party launch a campaign to eradicate it, sending hundreds of thousands of law-abiding citizens into labor camps to face torture and death?
POPULARITY AND INDEPENDENCE
In 1998, a Chinese government survey showed that there were more people practicing Falun Gong than there were members of the Chinese Communist Party. With 70 to 100 million practitioners, Falun Gong was arguably the largest independent group in the history of the People’s Republic of China.
The Communist Party seeks to control all volunteer organizations, religions, media, and educational institutions in China. It suppresses those that don’t submit to its control, including Falun Gong.
A DICTATOR’S PERSONAL JEALOUSY
The decision to persecute Falun Gong was made almost unilaterally by Communist Party chairman Jiang Zemin. Other members of the leadership favored a more conciliatory approach, recognizing that Falun Gong was peaceful and did not have a political agenda.
Jiang Zemin’s opposition towards Falun Gong was deeply personal, stemming from his jealousy over the practice’s popularity. He also reportedly believed that by launching a Cultural Revolution-style campaign against Falun Gong, he could consolidate his power.
INCOMPATIBILITY WITH MARXIST IDEALS
In spite of China’s turning to a market-economy in recent decades, the atheist Communist Party still clings to Marxist ideology. Some Party leaders saw Falun Gong, with its belief in the existence of Buddhas, Daos, and Gods, and its conviction that anyone can reach a divine realm through self-refinement, as challenging the ideology that the Party is the highest authority.
COMMUNIST PARTY’S HISTORY OF PERSECUTION
Throughout its more than 60 years in power, the Communist Party has repeatedly launched political campaigns that suppress freedom of thought and force Chinese people to declare their allegiance to the Party. In 1999, Falun Gong became its latest target. Torture survivor Zhao Ming explained it as: “The Party’s machinery of persecution was there—Jiang pushed the button.”