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Throughout the extensive history of China, from the Qin dynasty to modern days, the Chinese government has been witness to complete political reformations due to weaker periods in history combined with the rise of a new movement competing for loyalties of the people. During imperial rule, the era of dynasties lasting from third century B. C. up till 1912, emerging movements led by groups such as the Taiping rebels or the Boxers had disrupted the run of government. (Eckholm A Quiet) Chairman Mao Zedong was also incredibly mindful as to protecting Maoism, the Chinese version of Communism, which came about in 1949, following the Chinese Communist victory over the Chinese Nationalist in a civil war. (Holt, Rinehart and Winston 509) In the 1950 s, Mao was wary to disband any secret society or religious sect that could produce a potential competition. And again, in 1966 - 1967 during the Cultural Revolution, the Red Guards who were originally created by Mao were dispersed by army troops sent in by Mao due to the fusing of several local groups; the organization was spreading and growing to become a threat to the state. (Eckholm A Quiet) The Communist government has been extremely cautious to intercept any intention to subvert the government.
They were quick to break up the 1989 student demonstration in Tiananmen Square and since then, nothing has been considered a great threat to security until the current conflict concerning the Falun Gong. In 1992, Li Hongzhi provided a new spiritual path and practice, called Falun Gong, which he developed through combining traditional Chinese qigong exercises, elements of Buddhism and Taoism, and ancient theories concerning cosmic forces in the body. (Eckholm China Enacts) When this group held a vigil at Tiananmen Square to demand recognition, the government began to view Falun Gong as a threat to security which could lead to the topple of China s communistic government. Fear of mutiny is instilled in the heart of government leaders and to dispel the group, references are made to Falun Gong as a religion or cult, which is technically illegal by communism s atheistic standards. The paranoia of mutiny and loss of power of Communist China, combined with its official atheism, has led to extreme tactics with questionable propriety used to deal with the Falun Gong, a group searching for a peaceful place to practice their mixture of traditional Chinese exercises called qigong, mysticism, Buddhism, and Taoism. From Communist China s fear of an evil cult disrupting the government and creating mutiny, to the Falun Gong s simple wish to be able to practice peacefully, to the involvement of outside parties such as the United Nation and the USA, the conflict between the current Chinese government and the Falun Gong is an exemplary clash of ancient Chinese culture with the reality of Communist Party politics. To enforce the preservation of party rule and social stability, the Communist government of China has been planning to wipe out any evidence of organized movement of the Falun Gong through a malignant anti-Falun Gong campaign. (Smith) The greatest threat to the government is a nationally organized force competing for loyalties and can lead to mutiny, such as any religious group or cult. (Eckholm A Quiet) Falun Gong would not pose as great a threat if supreme loyalty was still pledged to the Communist Party; however, the most deeply dedicated members of Falun Gong pledge loyalty to Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Gong, and his theories above China s government. (Eckholm A Quiet) A Harvard professor of Chinese politics and history by the name of Roderick Mac Farquhar states, The party cannot allow the existence of a rival mass organization with control over the hearts and souls of the ordinary people and exposing their own ideological vacuum. (Eckholm A Quiet) Reminded of reforms during weaker transitional points in history, the Communist Party had been cautious to prevent similar events from reoccurring from the formation of any organization that could rise to challenge the power of the central government (Eckholm A Quiet).
The standing committee on the matter is head by Li Peng, a person who played an essential part in the break up of the 1989 Tiananmen Square student demonstration. (Eckholm China Enacts) They like to believe the Falun Gong is an evil cult duping the Chinese population; Falun Gong does contain particular characteristics of a cult such as devotion to one man s teachings, extreme privacy and secrecy, abnormally sensitive responses to criticism, and anti scientific claims to supernatural powers. (Eckholm A Quiet) While there has not been a trademark grave extremity such as a mass suicide, over 1, 400 deaths due to refusal of medical care has been blamed upon this group by the Chinese authorities; they believed that with proper faith and practice, cosmic forces combined with traditional medicine would be influential enough to override modern conventional medicine (Eckholm A Quiet). It was not brought to attention that the Falun Gong posed as a major potential threat until over 10, 000 members held an illegal vigil in Tiananmen Square on April 25, 1999 to demand official recognition. (Eckholm China Enacts) After dispersing this vigil, condemning it as fake, and locking up the leaders present, the government had hoped that the movement would fade and lose its threat. (Eckholm China Enacts) In contrary, when thousands of adherents refused to be hushed and caused the government to call on courts, prosecutors, police and administrative judicial organs to be on full alert for cult activities and smash them rigorously. (Eckholm China Enacts) In addition, the Chinese Communist Government has charged Li Hongzhi and Falun Gong with of a secret political agenda to undermine the state. (Eckholm China Enacts) It can be seen that the Falun Gong s position as an influential source of opposing loyalties has posed as a threat to social stability and the preservation of party rule and the Communist government has taken extensive measures accordingly, to prevent its demise. Denying labels of religion or cult, the Falun Gong merely wishes for a peaceful location to openly practice and they feel as if the government has overreacted. The main goal of this group is to promote physical and spiritual health while cultivating an overall kinder and moral member of society, clean of smoking, drinking, and homosexuality (Eckholm Falun; China Enacts). While Falun Gong blends aspects of Buddhism and Taoism with mysticism and traditional Chinese qigong exercises, the founder of Falun Gong does not consider it a religion. During a question and answer session, Li Hongzhi said, Whether people have other faiths or not, they can all practice Falun Gong.
We do not get involved in faiths. We respect them all. (Landreth and Greensberg) In the same interview, he also responded to accusations of the Falun Gong as a cult. Hongzhi said that all his teachings are simply for fitness and health and to teach people to be good, moral characters, traits that are promoted in all lifestyles. Also, in contrast to traits typical of cults, all those who practice Falun Gong are ordinary members of the society and take part in ordinary, daily events; the members are not required to remove themselves from society and do not find it difficult to leave the practice. (Landreth and Greensberg) Several people who have previously been members of Falun Gong can testify that membership was completely voluntary. They can also vouch that they were never requested to break off any ordinary social relationships, or donate large amounts of money, or any money other than for the purchase of books. (Eckholm A Quiet) According to Li Hongzhi and his followers, the government s conclusion that the practice of Falun Gong was cult related was based upon false reports. Li Hongzhi was charged with claiming he can detain the doomsday by thirty years; however, when faced with this statement, Hongzhi said that it was ridiculous and denies any truth in such a claim. (Landreth and Greensberg) Also, the comparison drawn between the Falun Gong, the Jim Jones cult and the Branch David ians are empty statements with no support; no convincing evidence for reason to draw such a conclusion was presented. (Eckholm A Quiet) The reference of Falun Gong as an evil cult is a strong example of how the government s paranoia caused them to overreact.
While the government is fearful of underlying political ambitions, Li and other member of Falun Gong deny any intention to undermine the state or enforce a looser policy on religion than the current communistic atheism. (Eckholm A Quiet) Their anxiety that highlights potential faults of the assemblage increased the shock received when it was discovered that people of respectable positions, such as senior military officers and ministry-level officials, encouraged the practice of Falun Gong and believed in the possibility to gain mystical healing and supernatural powers. (Faison) It has also been documented that in 1992, President Jiang Zemin sought a member of a similar following that is also under scrutiny, Zhong Gong, for healing of his arthritis and back aches. (Eckholm China Imprisons) The extremity of the situation loses potency if not everyone in the withstanding position holds a withstanding opinion. Clearly, the Falun Gong feels no need for the extreme reactions and references to religion and cults it has been subjugated to, when all they have been aspiring for is open tolerance and a peaceful locus to practice the exercises. With the founder of the Falun Gong residing in the United States, and the followers reaching out to the United Nations and other human rights organizations for reprehension of the manner they have been treated in, involvement of outside sources was inevitable. The main concern of the third parties are not whether or not the Falun Gong should be dispersed, but whether or not the Chinese Communist Government has been using proper tactics to accomplish their decision. With little hard evidence in their support, the government has been condemning Falun Gong as an evil sect. In response to this, Sima Nan, a Chinese man who has been on a pursuit against Falun Gong and similar groups which promote superstition and unscientific thought said, Instead of just saying Falun Gong is an evil sect, they should be using science to be proving generally that there are no supernatural powers. (Rosenthal) He also alluded that China s leaders have been at fault for singling out Falun Gong for scrutiny while several other groups, such as Zhong Gong, Young Ji Gong, and Wang Gong, have not been subjected to such calumny; some have even been granted legal status due to benefaction of government officials. (Rosenthal) Another example of how the Communist Government has been applying their tactics without propriety occurred on July 29, 1999, when the Chinese government issued an arrest warrant for Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Gong who was already living in exile in the United States since 1997.
This deed was incredibly pointless, being powerless due to the lack of an extradition treaty between the two countries, and exemplifies the government as being more politically minded than legally minded. (Faison) Also, with the democratic history of the United States and the strong attempt to remain politically correct and fair on all terms, US citizens tend to view the Chinese choice of course to take for resolution of this conflict as inhumane and not properly supported with evidence. A spokesperson of the American Embassy said, We have no evidence that practitioners have done anything other than peacefully exercise their internationally recognized rights. (Eckholm China Reassures) In addition, the US government has been quoted to call the crackdown a violation of international human rights standards as set forth in instruments including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that China has signed. (Eckholm China Reassures) The crackdown was catalyzed by the vigil held in Tiananmen Square petitioning for public recognition of the practitioners. However, with China s constitution protecting the freedom of speech and assembly, several human rights groups have been extremely critical of the government s improper procedure toward dealing with the technically legal congregation. (Faison) The members have also found the right to petition authorities for justice worthless and unfruitful since the government has already become fixated upon the complete, utter demolition of the mass. (Eckholm Falun) As the government s handling of the Falun Gong develops more and more perversely, including jailing, harassing, physically abusing, and seizing businesses of Falun Gong practitioners, the sect has begun to gear its protests to attain the attention of the universal peace-keeping organization, the United Nations. Following in suit of the Falun Gong, the lesser-known Zhong Gong has also appealed to the United Nations Human Rights Commission; their letter called the crackdown of the sects as a serious human rights persecution. (Associated Press) On April 18, 2000, the U. N. Human Rights Commission will be having its annual meeting in Geneva and will vote on a settlement regarding the denunciation of the Chinese Communist government and their methods towards dealing with Falun Gong and its various spin-offs. (Associated Press) However, back in November of 1999, Kofi Annan, the secretary general of the United Nations, met with Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan concerning the fundamental rights received by the victims of the crackdown.
In a brief question and answer session, Annan stated, I think I leave here with a better understanding of some of the issues involved that in dealing with this issue, the fundamental rights of citizens will be respected and some of the actions they are taking are for the protection of individuals. (Eckholm China Reassures) However, these brief and vague remarks also reflect his consideration not to offend China who was a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Obviously, the inevitable involvement of the United States and the United Nations has led to concern toward the propriety of China s government s actions and hopefully a resolution will be reached after the annual meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Commission. In summary, Communist China s paranoia of mutiny and loss of power, combined with its technically atheistic stand on religion, has caused it to react strongly and may have resorted to tactics with questionable propriety concerning the Falun Gong, a group in search of a peaceful location to practice their blend of traditional Chinese qigong exercises, mysticism, Buddhism, and Taoism. With the rising number of followers, Falun Gong could easily prove to be a potential threat to the Communist Government and a source of opposing loyalties as it gains support and more practitioners. However, lacking the intentions to undermine the government, the Falun Gong feels as if it has unjustly been enthralled to accusations of a religion, cult or evil sect when all they are aspiring to attain is a peaceful locale to practice and recognition other than the depreciative type they have been subjugated to by the government. With the involvement of outside third parties such as the United States and the United Nations, the expediency of the Chinese government s method of dealing with the conglomeration became open for examination for its possible violation of fundamental human rights.
Hopefully, following the Geneva meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Commission on April 18, 2000, a common ground can be found and peace between the two nations will be achieved. Perhaps the views of Liang, a member of both the Communist Party and Falun Gong, will be realized; the two beliefs are not mutually exclusive and can coexist, one beside the other. They are both about serving the people. (Faison)
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