Revenge of the Forbidden City: The Suppression of the Falungong in China, 1999-2005

Revenge of the Forbidden City: The Suppression of the Falungong in China, 1999-2005

Revenge of the Forbidden City: The Suppression of the Falungong in China, 1999-2005

Revenge of the Forbidden City: The Suppression of the Falungong in China, 1999-2005

Synopsis

The Falungong movement originated in 1992 as a system of breathing exercises designed to promote health and well-being. Riding on the coattails of the qigong fever that swept through China, it attracted an extensive following until 1994, when the Chinese government suppressed the qigong movement. A series of protest rallies by Falungong organizations against local government repression set in motion an upward conflict spiral that culminated in the siege of the Party headquarters in Beijing on April 25, 1999, by more than 20,000 Falungong practitioners. Revenge of the Forbidden City begins with the shock of the Politburo against such insolent defiance, resolving to retaliate against the Falungong, a retaliation that represented "the most serious political incident" since the Tiananmen upheaval in 1989. James W. Tong reveals how the Chinese government's relentless, sustained repression of the Falungong movement typifies its response towards perceived internal threats. Though many claim that the Democratic reforms in China have eroded the government's ability to monitor and control its citizens, the success of the campaign to eradicate Falungong indicates otherwise: the government effectively implemented a multifaceted offensive involving unsparing suppression, pervasive propaganda, and coercive conversion. The successful execution of this complex campaign reveals the resilience of China's authoritarian institutions. Using empirical evidence and thorough analysis, Tong reveals the Chinese state's formidable ability to crush dissent and provides a cogent rebuttal to those who claim that the Communist government is on the verge of collapse. The definitive account of China's response to Falungong, Revenge of the Forbidden City is essential for any scholar interested in how the Chinese state actually operates.

Excerpt

April 25, 1999, fell on a Sunday. Jiang Zemin was taking a rest at his residence after breakfast that morning. He had had a busy month.

Two days before, the secretary general of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was in Sichuan, wrapping up his six-day tour of the southwest province. After visiting the steel mill in Panzhihua, the hydroelectric power plant in Er Tan, the Wuliangyi Brewery in Yibin, the Changhong Electronic Consumer Company in Mianyang, and the Airplane Industry Corporation in Chengdu, he presided over and addressed the Conference on Reform and Development of State-Owned Enterprises in the provincial capital on April 22. Barely a month before that, his schedule was bound up with the two major national conferences held in Beijing. the National People’s Congress (NPC) convened its annual plenary session from March 5 to 15, while the China’s People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) held its annual conference from March 3 to 11. As secretary-general, Jiang had to be present at the opening and closing ceremonies of the npc, listen to reports on revising the Constitution on March 9, and those of the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuracy on March 10. He also attended separate breakout sessions with several provincial delegations and that of the People’s Liberation Army on March 6, 7, 8, 11, and 12. With the cppcc, it was not so much attending the formal sessions as meeting the delegates from Hong Kong, Macau, organized religions, and ethnic minorities.

Even after the delegates of the npc and cppcc returned to their home provinces, there was no rest for the secretary-general. March 20 took him to Venice, where he kicked off his three-nations state visit to western Europe, luncheoning with 150 corporate elite in Milan, presenting a wreath to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Rome, attending a concert of the Vienna Philharmonic at the Gold Hall at the Musikverein, addressing the Disarmament Conference in Geneva, and touring the European Nuclear Research Center (CERN). the visits were about international politics, as well. While in Italy, Jiang secured a commitment that the European Union would not sponsor a bill critical of China’s human rights conditions in the United . . .

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