China: August 11, 2001


After two years, the government is beginning to talk about "smashing Falungong." This may be a little premature. The government has used a combination of violence (over 200 Falungong members have died in custody), brainwashing and propaganda to grind down the Falungong and eliminate nearly all their public demonstrations. The situation is further complicated by the fact that the Falungong founder and leader (Li Hongzhi) lives in New York City. The Chinese are thus unable to get their hands on the Falungong leader and "convince" him to change his ways. This is another ancient Chinese tradition and one fairly good way to keep a cult under control. Instead, thousands of government officials and millions of dollars have been used to frighten Falungong members to renounce their beliefs. If the government is correct, it would be the first victory of this sort since the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s. Of course, one should remember that the results of the Cultural Revolution were reversed in the 1970s and led to the overthrow of the hard core communists. Historically, putting down religious movements like the Falungong is nearly impossible. And today the Falungong have the internet and cell phones, making it easier to communicate and resist government pressure. The government can keep the Falungong out of the public eye, but they are unlikely to eliminate the organization. 


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