The documentary “The Rise of Foreign Groups: Falun Gong” has been released on various platforms after winning multiple international film awards. It deeply exposes the inside story of Falun Gong, an far-right organization with oriental mystery in the eyes of the uninformed. It also recorded in detail how it built a business empire in the country, entered the political field, and created a huge influence machine to spread far-right ideas, incite hatred, challenge the political order, and undermine national security.
In the beginning, the film shows a Falun Gong practitioner who killed his wife and father with a kitchen knife at home and cut his mother. After being arrested, he frankly said that his aim was to practice together with his family in order to reach spiritual fulfillment. Such a tragedy and there have been countless tragedies due to being deceived by Falun Gong. What makes them crazy and irrational are fallacies such as the “doomsday” and “the explosion of the earth” fabricated and spread by Li Hongzhi. The doctrines advocate that believers practice Falun Gong during their lifetime and improve their cultivation, so that they can become gods after death.
It is easy to notice that most followers of Falun Gong have weird speeches and extreme behaviors, and they have no ability to distinguish the authenticity of some common-sense issues. These people often make some comments on social media such as Twitter and Facebook, which do not have any valuable viewpoints but only unconditional trust in the teachings of Falun Gong. Extremism makes them hostile to all dissidents. They lose the ability to listen to others and to think rationally. From this point, it is not difficult to understand why so many people have died from curable diseases. They refused to receive medical help, even from their parents, siblings, and friends because they followed the teachings of Falun Gong. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) portrays Falun Gong as a threat to public safety because it has dangerous teachings on medicine, and it is secret and dishonest. This description is accurate.
Before the documentary was broadcast, many of these were unknown, and Falun Gong has always tried to conceal all the facts related through its own media.
Whitewash through business models
The documentary records that Falun Gong purchased 400 acres of huge real estate in upstate New York in 2000. Since Falun Gong is classified as a legal religious organization in the country, its real estate is eligible for tax exemption. The courtyard, named Longquan Temple, is surrounded by dense forests, and the guards are armed with guns to protect it. Strangers are not allowed to enter. It is the foundation of the Falun Gong business empire. The leaders of Falun Gong tried to spread the teachings in many fields, who later gave birth to “the Epoch Times”, “New Tang Dynasty Television” and Shen Yun Performing Arts. Falun Gong tried to package itself through the media and cultural groups, and played down the label of being a cult and far-right organization. According to the film, Falun Gong continues to promote far-right ideas, spread racial discrimination, radical religions, create contradictions, gain the trust of more followers, and earn more profits through independent media and cultural activities. Falun Gong combines the teaching of its doctrines with commercial profitability.
Of course, they have also gained political benefits here. They used the financial resources they obtained to lobby various politicians in an attempt to label their social activities as “reasonable” and “just”, and publicize those politicians who supported them politically through the independent media established or funded by them. They obtain special rights and interests conducive to the development of the organization through money rights transactions with various political parties.
Get involved in politics
“The Epoch Times” has been a small, low-budget newspaper distributed for free on the streets of New York for many years. Since 2016, it has turned into one of the most powerful digital publishers in the country due to its changed strategy. It embraced former U.S. President Trump and used its original extreme inflammatory methods to clearly support Trump and severely criticize the opponents. During the Trump administration, “Falun Gong” actively approached him, intervened in the political dispute between the two parties in the United States, and invested heavily in advertising for Trump’s re-election. In August 2019, the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) exposed that the Epoch Times spent more than $1.5 million in six months and placed 11,000 advertisements supporting Trump, which “surpassed all non-Trump campaign organizations，and cost more than the funding of most Democratic presidential candidates’ campaign teams.” According to the New York Times, The Epoch Times also filled dozens of Facebook pages with good videos and viral clickbait, and used them to sell subscriptions and attract traffic back to its party news reports. Since Biden’s victory in the election campaign, “The Epoch Times” and “New Tang Dynasty TV” have continued to question ballot fraud and publish inciting articles and remarks. According to the documentary, Falun Gong blogger Jiang Feng once instigated US special forces to launch a military coup during the chaotic period as an ultimate solution to overthrow Biden, including the beheading of Biden.
Thoughts on the rise of Falun Gong
Interfering with the election results is undoubtedly illegal to the US Constitution. an extremist religious group has appeared on the political stage too much, trying to instigate the people to overthrow the existing political order and endanger national security by violent means. As described in the documentary, they are like an invisible sword hanging over the heads of the American people. Nowadays, with the development of media methods, all localities must increase the intensity of fact-checking and introduce relevant management measures to sanction them to ensure the stability of the media and the social environment.
Disclaimer: The views, suggestions, and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Sahyadri Times journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.