By Tammy & Helen
Falun Gong was founded in 1992 in China. It is known as an ancient spiritual practice based on principles ‘truthfulness, compassion and forbearance’ and a set of meditation exercises. In New Zealand, Falun Gong practitioners have been peacefully protesting outside the consulate daily for 18 years.
On Friday 22 Dec, an anti-Falun Gong group gathered outside the Chinese Consulate in Greenlane, Auckland, to protest against Falun Gong. A pro-democracy group arrived soon after.
The anti-Falun Gong group was accused of physical assault from a pedestrian and the pro-democracy group. The pro-democracy team consisted of Freeman Yu and Mr Xi who supported Falun Gong.
Yu rang the police at noon. However, the anti-Falun Gong group had already began to leave during the call. The police recorded the situation and the vehicle registration number of the anti-Falun Gong group during the call.
Yu claimed that Wang, member of the anti-Falun Gong group, had physically and verbally abused him through shoves and making threats.
While another pedestrian said that a member of the anti-Falun Gong group had “kicked [his] knee and [he] fell down,” because he “kicked their signs over and they didn’t like it.”
“Falun Gong has not harmed anyone. To me, it seems like they have formed gatherings to do exercises for health benefits.” said pro-democracy member Mr Xi. “ That is their business and their freedom to do so. Why are they [the communist party] persecuting them in China?”
Xi and Yu have also urged the Chinese government to release human rights lawyers from custody in China. One of Yu’s friends in China was among those detained. Xi himself had also been imprisoned for 8 months in 2011.
“They tortured me badly and forbade me from sleeping for a week. They whipped and electrocuted me when I fell asleep.” said Xi. “After being released, I could not risk being caught again for participating in human rights movements in China. My family needed me.”
“In New Zealand, I have the freedom to protest outside the embassy for prisoners of conscience including my friends.” said Xi.
“In my spare time, I think that we must stand up for others in this free society,” said Freeman Yu. “If I do not evaluate our society and stand up for others, I feel like I have neglected my duty.”
Opposers of the Falun Gong regarded the pro-democracy group as traitors to their home country.
To which, Xi explained that he too, loves his country and its citizens deeply.
“Protecting your country is different from supporting your government. The CCP has schemed against and lied to so many of our fellow Chinese citizens.” says Xi. “I am determined to do this until the Chinese communist party disintegrates. Only then will China be a safe place.”
“In the past few years, there have been too many cases of human rights violation in China.” Xi said.
“These concern human rights lawyers, the forced eviction of migrant workers in Beijing,” said Xi. “International literary figures and Chinese migrants have also signed a petition to call on the release of Liu Xia, widow of pro-democracy Nobel-prize winner, Liu Xiaobo.”
According to the South China Morning Post, the Chinese government has sentenced pro-democracy protester Liu Xiaobo to 11 years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power” in 2009.
These legal actions largely contradict the Chinese constitution. Articles 34 and 35 state that all Chinese citizens hold ‘the right to vote’ and the ‘freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.’
“It’s very ironic and laughable. Up until now I don’t know if I’ve ever had the right to vote. Who can I vote for?” said Mr Xi.
However, Falun Gong-opposers have regarded the above claims as “political nonsense,” as stated on their billboards. They supported the stance of the communist party, assisted with slogans such as “Kiwi taxpayers provide this path for pedestrians not cult practices” and “don’t be sold to political nonsense.”
The anti-Falun Gong group did not wish to make further comments. The group did not want media publicity and shielded their leader Wang from the camera during the physical dispute with pro-democracy Freeman Yu.
The pedestrian who claimed to receive physical assault from the anti-Falun-Gong-group made a few comments on the ‘cult’ allegation.
He said, “Falun Dafa is a religion or a stepping stone towards God. But the Communists are opposed to God. They are atheists, no God. Only the party is God.”
“By the true definition of the English word ‘cult,’ the Chinese communist party is a cult.” he said. “The communists are the dark forces. Whereas Falun Gong is trying to enlighten people.”
To which, democracy supporter Freeman Yu said that the Chinese Communist Party “controls the thinking and actions of overseas Chinese migrants.”
“That’s because overseas Chinese media will never report negative news or scandals from China,” said Yu.
“The Tiananmen massacre, the Panama papers incidence, the insurance scandal with Li Peng’s daughter all remain undisclosed to overseas Chinese communities. So they all live under the misconception that the CCP is doing a great job and that anyone who disagrees is merely stirring drama.”
Overseas Chinese migrants will only come across Chinese political scandals and negative reports from sources like CNN and BBC. So any non- English speakers are unlikely to obtain both sides of the story.
In its annual report, the Australian intelligence agency stated that foreign governments have been posing as “a threat to our sovereignty, the integrity of our national institutions, and the exercise of our citizens’ rights.”
According to the Council on Foreign Relations, this specifically targets China and its involvement with foreign politics in Australia. This includes incidents such as the disputes on the South China sea, increased funding of Australian political parties from foreign sources, monitoring of overseas Chinese communities and threats upon international students.
On Dec 21, Trump has issued an executive order based on the Global Magnitsky Act which enables human-rights violators to be denied entry to the U.S and that their assets to be frozen.
Pro-democracy member, Yu, believes that New Zealand will catch up with the implementations of Australia and the U.S in 2 or 3 years. Recent allegations concerning MP Jian Yang and his ties to China have also been a driving force for us in New Zealand.
Professor Anne-Marie Brady from Christchurch has published a comprehensive report in September 2017 about the increasing influence of China on foreign countries, using New Zealand as an example. The report was delivered at a conference in the Washington D.C. However, many New Zealanders remain “tolerant” or unaware of China’s growing power in New Zealand.
“New Zealand has a relatively large population of Chinese immigrants. Through control and monitoring, the CCP has had a great influence on Chinese-New Zealanders as well as the election and the political trend in New Zealand.” said Yu.
Despite being outnumbered by the predominantly communist Chinese population, Xi remained hopeful about the future.
In an analogy, Xi compared the Chinese Communist Party to a donkey and the pro-democracy supporters as a bale of straw on the donkey’s back.
“Every single person who stands with us is a piece of straw. When we continue adding straw to the load, the weight increases until the donkey collapses. You won’t know which straw is the last straw for the donkey until it happens.” said Xi.
Xi added, “Despite the insignificance of our numbers, our actions are making an impact. We never know when the CCP will fall until it happens.”
“I would like to urge the global Chinese population to seek the truth,” said Mr Xi. “You are doing this for yourself, your family, your friends and for your country.”
He asked, “Wouldn’t you want your country to flourish?”