Opinion

Some mainstream media reports are beginning to sound a lot like communist propaganda warns an upstate New York press office whose volunteers promote the human rights of persecuted victims.

The Falun Dafa Info Center in Otisville is concerned about major U.S. media outlets increasingly adopting a CCP (Chinese Communist Party) style of propaganda, especially when reporting on the Falun Dafa (also known as Falun Gong) meditation practice.

“There have been a series of news and magazine articles published in the U.S. recently that grossly distort the teachings and beliefs of Falun Gong,” the center said in a statement. “In fact, these articles mimic with shocking similarity the hate-filled propaganda prominent in communist China, which fuels terrible persecution of people who practice Falun Gong there.”

The offending “fake news” stories have not only wrongly accused harmless Falun Dafa adherents of spreading right-wing conspiracies and ideology but also ridiculed every American who wants to try out the peaceful exercises for free.

“They then spend significant resources portraying Falun Gong as strange, extreme, or even dangerous,” it said. “What is particularly troubling about the portrayal of Falun Gong in these biased reports is that the reader comes away with a very twisted view of the practice.”

The center believes major media outlets targeted Falun Dafa because some adherents founded media companies that report positively on former President Donald Trump and his supporters.

“They aim to delegitimize a media company based in New York called The Epoch Times by calling it ‘pro-Trump,’ conspiratorial, or right-wing … and by association, seek to delegitimize the paper,” it said.

However, The Epoch Times, NTD Television, and Vision Times, never confirmed they speak on behalf of Falun Dafa adherents, unlike the official Falun Dafa Info Center press office.

The critical media coverage also does not appear to directly address the newspaper’s “supposed flaws” through carefully analyzing content and using the results to state an argument. This is why the center believes this bad press could constitute a form of “character assassination.”

“They use Falun Gong as a pawn; they portray a caricature of Falun Gong, hold it up for ridicule, and then conflate this caricature with the staff of The Epoch Times,” it said. 

The center believes unless mainstream media stops spreading this misinformation, it could encourage media outlets to target other community groups that support President Trump.

“Imagine if they took the same approach to dissecting Tibetan Buddhism–one could certainly extract from the main texts of Tibetan Buddhism sufficient material to portray the religion as strange or crazy, and be able to quote specific passages to make this conclusion very believable to those unfamiliar with the faith,” it said.

“This distortion of reality is precisely what they do with Falun Gong: They pull passages from the writings of Falun Gong’s founder, apply their own secular interpretation, and then state, as fact, what Falun Gong believes … all without any real understanding for how Falun Gong people themselves understand and live by their faith,” it added.

The center urges U.S. mainstream media to be more responsible in its news reporting and stop inciting hatred for Falun Dafa and other groups.

“We call upon Western reporters and editors to consider carefully the points we have raised here today, and the terrible impact of the bigotry they are perpetuating in these biased reports about The Epoch Times and Falun Gong,” it said.

From 1992 to 1999, Falun Gong enjoyed immense popularity, with an estimated 70 million to 100 million people practicing in mainland China alone. The practice has also spread to the United States and more than 70 countries globally, while Falun Gong books have been translated into over 40 different languages.

However, the CCP grew increasingly unsettled by its rapid growth and the high number of influential party members who had joined. Late in 1999, Chinese dictator Jiang Zemin decided to arbitrarily arrest and torture adherents to death, confiscated and destroyed more than 2 million Falun Gong books, and ordered state-run media to publish hundreds of articles that defamed the practice.

The two-decade human rights crisis has caused at least 4,363 known Falun Gong adherents to be persecuted to death, with “tens of thousands more [cases] to be confirmed,” according to the latest data collected by the Minghui website. The CCP’s policy to cremate the dead bodies of victims without asking permission from family members has only added to the difficulty in ascertaining exactly how many Falun Gong adherents have been persecuted to death since 1999.