As I “reported” on New Year’s day on “Activists fail to stir opposition to China’s [Rose Bowl Parade] float,” The Los Angeles Times reports this week (1/3/07) on “O.C. (Orange County) official ‘insulted’ by letter from Chinese government“:
“In a Dec. 17 letter, China’s consulate general in Los Angeles said the Chinese New Year Spectacular events aimed to “defame China’s image in the international community and undermine the development of U.S.-China relations.” The letter compared Falun Gong to the Branch Davidians, which engaged federal agents in a standoff over illegal weapons stockpiles that killed 82 members near Waco, Texas, in 1993; and to the Peoples Temple, of which more than 900 members committed mass suicide in Guyana in 1978. The Chinese New Year performances — Jan. 15 at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido and Jan. 18 at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles — are produced by New Tang Dynasty Television, a satellite station based in New York that says it offers views differing from the Chinese government’s….A spokesman acknowledged that some of the station’s supporters are involved in Falun Gong and that a past show included an “interpretive” performance seemingly sympathetic to the group. The letter offended Supervisor Chris Norby, the board chairman, to whom it was addressed. In an interview Wednesday, he said it amounted to “an attempt by a foreign government to dictate to American elected officials what organizations we should support, recognize or associate with.“….The episode is yet another chapter in the back-and-forth between China and Falun Gong supporters in California. Falun Gong has been allowed to march in several parades but has been banned from others, including those in San Francisco, downtown Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley….Joe Trentacosta, a spokesman for New Tang, said the Chinese New Year shows do not include reference to Falun Gong, although elements of Taoism and Buddhism are reflected.”
This looks like typical hardball tactics by the Chinese government (and just another reminder what China does regarding protests against Taiwan). The sad thing is, the Chinese New Year shows don’t even include reference to Falun Gong. Just the fact that the performances are supported by folks who do support Falun Gong is enough for the Chinese government to intervene.
Now I really don’t know much about Falun Gong – some consider them a “cult” and others a legitimate way of life, spirituality and religion. I certainly got a lot of commentary regarding the Falun Gong in my post, “WSJ: Chinese Dissidents Take On Beijing Via Media Empire.” But if organizations who do support the Falun Gong want to sponsor Chinese New Year’s performances which don’t even reference (or even if they did) Falun Gong, that’s fine with me.