Falun Gong (alternatively called Falun Dafa) is a sect that originated in China towards the end of the "Qi Gong boom" in the early 1990s, which was suppressed by the Chinese government in 1999. Outside of China, Falun Gong has branches in about 70 countries, and tens of thousands of followers (estimates range from 40 000 to several hundred thousand). In exile, the sect has turned into a staunch adversary of the Chinese government, and has been propped up by anti-communist and anti-Chinese campaigners worldwide.
Falun Gong cult leader Li Hongzhi in 1997.
The sect uses Qi Gong, a system of coordinated body-posture and movement, breathing, and meditation, as method of entryism. Falung Gong adherents are often not (immediately) aware of the racist and conspiracist doctrines of the sect's "master" Li Hongzhi, although his "teachings" are openly accessible on various Falun Gong websites. In contrast, people from the inner circle of the sect reported that they grow up in the belief that "Master Li" can read their thoughts, and that "racial intermixing" is an alien plot to create chaos on earth.1
On the Falun Dafa website one can read, for example, Hongzhi's comments on the "pitiable" fate of people with "mixed blood"2:
Question: Why do you say that children of mixed blood are pitiable? A person might be a Chinese person in this life, and then a foreigner in the next, and there are all sorts of races and main souls on the earth.
Master: In the reincarnation process it is the main soul that reincarnates, whereas what has mixed blood is the flesh body. Different gods created their own different peoples, and in history those gods have all along been taking care of the people they themselves created. White people are white people, black people are black people, and people of the yellow race are people of the yellow race. Any ethnicity in the world is a race that corresponds with the heavens. After mixing blood people no longer have their correspondence to the gods in the heavens. And then it is possible that none of the gods that created humans will take care of them. Then with regard to these people, they are very pitiable. Some people might be wondering what to do, then. I’ll tell you, don’t be anxious. I am talking about the situation at the human being’s surface. Since humans’ main souls haven’t mixed, if people want to cultivate I can enable you to cultivate. If you can cultivate to the last step you can Consummate all the same, and there won’t be any distinction. Cultivation won’t be an issue.
Falun Gong logo
The internationally renowned performance arts group Shen Yun and the media company The Epoch Times are the major outreach organizations of Falun Gong.3 Together with other Falun Gong businesses, such as New Tang Dynasty Television (NTD), they operate as extensions of the sect, and promote its spiritual and political teachings. In the case of The Epoch Times, they also promote conspiracy theories and far-right politics in both Europe and the United States. During the 2016 and 2020 U.S. presidential election, The Epoch Times has been promoting conspiracy theories and extreme right-wing political views.4
Falun Gong's ties to U.S. intelligence have been somewhat of an open secret, whereby there appears to exist a continued collaboration in regards to circumventing China's internet censorship. In 2002, the software UltraSurf was developed by a group of expatriate Chinese Falun Gong practitioners in the US.5 The software was designed as a means of allowing internet users to bypass the "Great Firewall of China." A separate group of Falun Gong practitioners was working on a similar effort, and in 2006 the two groups merged into the Global Internet Freedom Consortium.5 In 2010, the Washington Post reported6:
The State Department has decided to fund a group run mainly by practitioners of Falun Gong, a Buddhist-like sect long considered Enemy No. 1 by the Chinese government, to provide software to skirt Internet censorship across the globe.
State Department officials recently called the group, the Global Internet Freedom Consortium, offering it $1.5 million, according to Shiyu Zhou, one of the group's founders. A State Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed the offer.
Overall, one can see a certain parallel between Falun Gong and the rabidly anti-communist Moon sect, founded in 1954 by cult leader Sun Myung Moon (1920 - 2012) in South Korea. Upon branching out to the U.S., Moon built up an international media conglomerate, News World Communications, which includes the reactionary Washington Times. The Moonies also have their own dance group, the Little Angels Children's Folk Ballet of Korea, which was presided over by Moon's former aide Bo Hi Pak (1930 - 2019).
Screenshot from a 2020 ABC News documentary about Falun Gong.
Falun Gong's headquarters is called Dragon Springs, also known as The Mountain, a 427-acre (1.73 km2) heavily guarded compound located in Deerpark, New York, which serves as the informal headquarters of Falun Gong. Falun Gong founder and cult leader Li Hongzhi resides near the compound, along with hundreds of Falun Gong adherents, which also contains schools and temples. Members of the Falun Gong extension Shen Yun, a dance and performance group, whose members grow up in the sect and are drilled from early childhood on to be able to perform their neck-breaking stunts, also live and rehearse there. The compound is registered as a church, Dragon Springs Buddhist, which gives it tax exemptions and greater privacy.
Falun Gong headquarters Dragon Springs.
Falun Gong headquarters, Dragon Springs.
A former Dragon Springs resident and ex-Falun Gong member said in a recent documentary she grew up believing 'Master Li' could read minds and that her thoughts were always being monitored; also that "race mixing is part of an alien plot to drive humanity further from the gods."1
Falun Gong is behind the Epoch Times, which is popular in right-wing to far-right circles, latest with its open support of Donald Trump, disseminating the unbroken stream of lies coming from his orbit.7 According to a 2019 NBC News article on the Epoch Times8:
Former practitioners of Falun Gong told NBC News that believers think the world is headed toward a judgment day, where those labeled “communists” will be sent to a kind of hell, and those sympathetic to the spiritual community will be spared. Trump is viewed as a key ally in the anti-communist fight, former Epoch Times employees said.
In 2019, the Epoch Times has spent several million dollars on Facebook for Trump-friendly advertising, which the platform subsequently banned. Facebook stated that Epoch Times had attempted to conceal the high advertising expenditure via several sub-pages.9
In November 2020, Falun Gong officially embraced Trump in a press message10:
This U.S. election is a battle between good and evil, a battle between gods and demons. Trump is the man chosen by the divine to return to tradition and disintegrate the Chinese Communist Party (CCP); the other side aims to destroy tradition and build the CCP’s socialism in the United States and even the world. As cultivators, although we do not participate in ordinary people's politics, we need to know what is righteous and wicked, distinguish good from evil, and know who we want to support (Trump).
A truck load of free issues of the Epoch Times were distributed at Trump's December 2020 Georgia rally, full-on promoting the election fraud conspiracy theory that his army of grifters helped forge.
On December 3, 2020, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with "representatives of groups victimized by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) who urged the Trump administration to designate the CCP a 'transnational criminal organization,'" according to the Epoch Times11:
[The] Washington-based advocacy group Committee on Present Danger: China organized the gathering, under the banner of the “Captive Nations Coalition,” which included representatives from the Tibetan, Uyghur, Inner Mongolian, Hong Kong, and Falun Gong communities.
Representatives of the "Captive Nations Coalition" organized by the Committee of Present Danger: China meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Robert Destro, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, and Human Rights, and Labor on Dec. 3. (Courtesy of Sean Lin).
The Committee on the Present Danger (CPD) is the name used by a succession of American neoconservative and anti-communist foreign policy interest groups. Throughout its four iterations - in the 1950s, the 1970s, the 2000s, and 2019 - it has tried to influence all the presidential administrations since Harry Truman, achieving notable success during the Reagan administration. The fourth CPD was established on March 25, 2019, branding itself "Committee on the Present Danger: China" (CPDC), including, among others, the far-right super-grifter Steve Bannon, the retired General and religious fanatic William G. Boykin, and the reactionary battle horse and conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney.12 Members include both China-focused specialists and others without specific experience related to the country,13 and are predominantly from the conservative orbit.14
With Donald Trump's chances to win any of the fraudulent law suits contesting the election results getting slimmer, Falun Gong-affiliated outlets became more vociferous in defending Trump's bogus voter fraud allegations. On December 9, 2020, the Epoch Times openly called for invoking an "Insurrection Act" to enforce a "military audit" of the US presidential election results.15 Starting in mid-December 2020, New Tang Dynasty (NTD) gave considerable coverage to the far-right grifter Ali Alexander, one of the key agitators calling for violent action in the run-up to the January 6, 2021, insurrection in Washington DC by right-wing extremists.16
Search results for "Ali Alexander" on the NTD website.
On December 23, 2020, Trump "promoted a video produced by an obscure jewelry auctioneer named Seth Holehouse" with extensive ties to Falun Gong.17 The expensively produced video titled "The Plot to Steal America" pushes multiple discredited conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election.18 Part 2 of the video is mostly dedicated to vilifying China.19
One day before the storm on the Capitol in Washington, D.C., by militant Trump supporters on January 6, 2021, the Epoch Times ran the following headline on Facebook,20 advertising a belligerent editorial statement21:
At this critical moment, Americans need to come together to take a stand against fraud and in favor of truth. To choose freedom over communism, and good over evil.
According to the journalist Julian Feeld, the Epoch Times placed an ad during a stream of the CPAC staging in February 2021 where "a young woman asked god to show her what a good news source is, and god told her to read the Epoch Times (and cut articles out to share them, and leave copies of the paper in public libraries)."22^
German Falun Gong section
There is also a German Falun Gong section as well as a German version of the Epoch Times,23 which has served as a mouthpiece and platform for the country's far right, including the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and PEGIDA ("Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident").24 Epoch Times Deutschland's rabid diction led to the suspension of its YouTube channel in early 2021, which had about 171k followers at the time.25
Falun Gong groups have reportedly been taking part in the so-called Querdenken demonstrations throughout Germany, directed against the government's COVID-19 measures. The Querdenken ("Lateral Thinking") demonstration series unites hardcore neo-Nazis, Reich Citizens (Reichsbürger), Identitarians, anti-vaxxers, adherents to the QAnon conspiracy theory, and other proponents lured into the "crossfront" under an anti-scientific and conspiracist umbrella. The Querdenken demonstrations made international headlines when on August 29, 2020, hundreds of neo-Nazis were trying to storm the Reichstag building, home of the German parliament.
Falung Gong at a Querdenken demonstration on August 29, 2020, at Pariser Platz, Berlin. The headline reads: "The most evil virus in the world is the Chinese Communist Party."
Falun Gong group participating in a Querdenken demonstration on August 29, 2020, at Pariser Platz, Berlin.
Interestingly, the International Society for Human Rights (German: Internationale Gesellschaft für Menschenrechte), an originally German Cold War intelligence outfit,26 which in the past had ties to the Moon sect,27 has recently come out in support of Falun Gong. ISHR members appear to disseminate pro-Falun Gong material, as well as Epoch Times articles perpetuating anti-Chinese conspiracy theories. One ISHR Germany member publicly outs herself as Falun Gong member on social media, and maintains that Falun Gong is a meditation practice.
Screenshot of Veronkia Müller's Twitter profile, who is both, a Falun Gong and an IGfM member.
Twitter post by IGfM and Falun Gong member Veronika Müller with reference to an Epoch Times article in which she calls Falun Gong a "meditation practice."
Screenshot of Ursula Dusolt's Twitter profile, mentioning her IGfM membership.
On December 22, 2020, IGfM member Ursula Dusolt shared an Epoch Times podcast on Twitter directed against antifascists.
- 1. a. b. "Who are the Falun Gong? | Foreign Correspondent," ABC News In-Depth on YouTube, July 24, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzlMQyM8p74.
- 2. Li Hongzhi, "Teaching the Fa at the Conference in Houston," Falundafa.org, October 12, 1996, https://en.falundafa.org/eng/lectures/19961012L.html.
- 3. Brandy Zadrozny and Ben Collins, "Trump, QAnon and an impending judgment day: Behind the Facebook-fueled rise of The Epoch Times," NBC News, August 20, 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/trump-qanon-impending-judgment-day-behind-facebook-fueled-rise-epoch-n1044121h.
- 4. Kevin Roose, "Epoch Times, Punished by Facebook, Gets a New Megaphone on YouTube," The New York Times, February 5, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/05/technology/epoch-times-youtube.html.
- 5. a. b. Vince Beiser, "Digital Weapons Help Dissidents Punch Holes in China's Great Firewall," Wired, November 1, 2010, https://web.archive.org/web/20180526134414/https://www.wired.com/2010/11/ff_firewallfighters/.
- 6. John Pomfret, "U.S. risks China's ire with decision to fund software maker tied to Falun Gong," Washington Post, May 12, 2010, https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/11/AR2010051105154.html.
- 7. Kevin Roose, "How The Epoch Times Created a Giant Influence Machine," The New York Times, October 24, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/24/technology/epoch-times-influence-falun-gong.html.
- 8. Brandy Zadrozny and Ben Collins, "Trump, QAnon and an impending judgment day: Behind the Facebook-fueled rise of The Epoch Times," NBC News, August 20, 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/trump-qanon-impending-judgment-day-behind-facebook-fueled-rise-epoch-n1044121.
- 9. "Nach Millionenausgaben für Trump-Ads: Facebook sperrt Werbung der 'Epoch Times,'" Meedia.de, August 23, 2019, https://meedia.de/2019/08/23/nach-millionenausgaben-fuer-trump-ads-facebook-sperrt-werbung-der-epoch-times/.
- 10. "We Must Know and Be Clearheaded about Our Principles and Fundamentals," minghui.org, November 7, 2020, http://en.minghui.org/html/articles/2020/11/7/188160.html.
- 11. Cathy He, "Groups Urge US to Designate Chinese Communist Party as Transnational Criminal Organization," The Epoch Times, December 6, 2020, https://www.theepochtimes.com/coalition-groups-urges-us-to-designate-the-chinese-communist-party-a-transnational-criminal-organization_3606220.html.
- 12. Ana Swanson, "A New Red Scare Is Reshaping Washington," The New York Times, July 20, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/20/us/politics/china-red-scare-washington.html.
- 13. Wendy Wu, "Cold War is back: Bannon helps revive U.S. committee to target ‘aggressive totalitarian foe’ China," March 26, 2019, https://www.politico.com/story/2019/03/26/steve-bannon-china-1238039.
- 14. Josh Rogin, "China hawks call on America to fight a new Cold War," The Washington Post, April 10, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/04/10/china-hawks-call-america-fight-new-cold-war/.
- 15. Stephen B. Meister, "The Case for Trump to Invoke Insurrection Act to Restore Election Integrity," Epoch Times, December 9, 2020, https://www.theepochtimes.com/mkt_app/case-for-president-trumps-invoking-insurrection-act-to-restore-election-integrity_3610513.html.
- 16. Search results for Ali Alexander on NTD, https://www.ntd.com/?s=%22ali+alexander%22. Archived copy: https://archive.is/lmmqr.
- 17. Brad Reed, "REVEALED: Trump-promoted social media star has secret ties to apocalyptic religious group," Raw Story, December 29, 2020, https://www.rawstory.com/epoch-times/.
- 18. Donald Trump on Twitter, December 23, 2020, https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1341948611131822083.
- 19. Donald Trump on Twitter, December 23, 2020, https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1341948764068704256. Archived copy: https://archive.vn/cRlVl.
- 20. Epoch Times on Facebook, December 5, 2020, https://www.facebook.com/epochtimes/posts/10159099837244266.
- 21. "With Our Election System Under Assault, Americans Need to Speak Up," The Epoch Times, December 5, 2020, https://www.theepochtimes.com/with-our-election-system-under-assault-americans-need-to-speak-up_3605980.html.
- 22. Julian Feeld on Twitter, February 28, 2021, https://twitter.com/julianfeeld/status/1366106516835602433.
- 23. The Epoch Times (German version), https://www.epochtimes.de/.
- 24. Stefan Lauer, "Wie Geflüchtete die „Epoch Times“ gerettet haben – Teil 1," Belltower News, June 14, 2017, https://www.belltower.news/wie-gefluechtete-die-epoch-times-gerettet-haben-teil-1-44264/.
- 25. Epoch Times Deutschland on YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0sfnuCUaYV2twmfZDtXZng. Archived version: https://archive.is/roqK5.
- 26. Ingo Niebel, "Unterstützer der ultrarechten CIA-Vorfeldorganisation IGfM: Bündnis 90/Die Grünen - Teil 2," Neue Rheinische Zeitung, May 22, 2013, www.nrhz.de/flyer/beitrag.php?id=19057&css=print.
- 27. Günter Platzdasch and Rainer Fromm, "Die sogenannte Internationale Gesellschaft für Menschenrechte: Eine rechte Grauzonenorganisation," Büro der Stadtverordnetenversammlung Wiesbaden, 1990, mit aktuellem Vorwort 2009, http://docplayer.org/11589068-Internationale-gesellschaft-fuer-menschenrechte.html.