Falun Gong and Qigong

Today, I asked a Chinese friend what she thought of the Falun Gong. I expected something resembling the CCP party line, or apathy, but instead she attacked the CCP’s stance towards the Falun Gong. She said that while she thought the vast majority of Falun Gong’s spiritual practices were hogwash she thought the CCP cracked down hard on the Falun Gong because of political competition. She claimed that although initially Falun Gong began as a religious organization it later grew into a powerful political organization that threatened the CCP. She went on to quote some Falun gong (maybe true?) propaganda that the CCP kidnaps and organ harvests Falun Gong members, and that the Bo Xilai case uncovered a massive organ harvesting organization. When I went to DC I heard Falun Gong protesters outside of the white house saying the same thing. I had already knew that the CCP had listed Falun Gong as a heterodoxy religion, but this seemed absurd. While it’s easy for me to believe that Falun Gong members are tortured, unwilling organ harvesting seems so unwilling evil to me, I desperately wish it isn’t true. I highly doubt that polling data exists that could elucidate how common her views are among young politically interested Chinese, but I think her views might be more common among non Falun gong practicing youth than a cursory view of Chinese society would suggest.

Xinhua, the voice of the CCP described the Falun Gong as “opposed to the Communist Party of China and the central government, preaches idealism, theism and feudal superstition.” and the destruction of the Falun gong was necessary in order to preserve the “vanguard role and purity” of the Communist Party. I understand the political and some of the cultural reasoning behind dismantling the Falun Gong. I understand that the turbulent Taiping rebellion rocked China to the foundation, and I understand the CCP’s discomfort with religion (feudal superstition). I do not understand why the CCP so vehemently despises the Falun Gong specifically especially when Falun Gong feels so benign.

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The CCP’s massive intelligence network has been used to find Falun Gong protesters.

Self cultivation forms the center of Falun Gong’s (also known as Falun Dafa) religion. Practitioners self cultivate through “exercises, meditation, and moral living,” in practice this involves a lot of Qigong. Qigong is a set of exercises that practitioners claim removes imbalances and impurities in the body. Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance (or in Chinese, Zhen 真 Shan 善 Ren 忍) are the three key traits that Falun gong stresses. The CCP argued that  ‘truth, compassion and tolerance’ principle preached by [Falun Gong] has nothing in common with the socialist ethical and cultural progress we are striving to achieve.” Falun Gong practitioners also believe in the influence of Karma in daily events. Falun Gong practitioners also realize that life is full of burdensome attachments and that looking inward, self awareness, and meditation helps free yourself of attachments.

Falun Gong doesn’t sound like a philosophy I would practice, but it, like any philosophy doesn’t deserve imprisonment, death, or potentially organ harvesting.


Nobody should have their rights circumscribed due to their religion or philosophy.


Willy Wo-Lap Lam, “China’s sect suppression carries a high price”. CNN, 9 February 2001

Gayle M.B. Hanson, China Shaken by Mass Meditation – meditation movement Falun Gong, Insight on the News, 23 August 1999