Chinese Studies The Falun Gong
by
James Tong
  • LAST REVIEWED: 08 June 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 22 April 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199920082-0033

Introduction

From its modest origin as a qigong group in 1992 that practiced deep breathing combined with meditation, the Falun Gong (also transliterated as “Falungong” in some sources) grew into a large congregation of around seventy million in China barely seven years later, when the Chinese government outlawed it in July 1999. What propelled it to national and global attention was its siege on 25 April 1999 of the Zhongnanhai, the national headquarter of the Chinese Communist Party, an unprecedentedly defiant act that prompted a nationwide suppression in July 1999. After the baptism by fire, where all its organizational infrastructure was devastated inside China, the Falun Gong rose from the ashes and established communities in all five continents and created a vast media network with a daily newspaper distributed in thirty-five countries, three television stations, two radio stations, and two news agencies with global-reach capacity. It successfully courted the patronage of host governments, which showered it with more than a thousand commendations and over two thousand proclamations and supportive legislative bills and resolutions. Few religious communities or social movements have grown so fast, suffered so much, and reinvented themselves in so short a time. The parameters of this bibliography are defined by the relative youth of the Falun Gong. Founded in 1992, the congregation was barely twenty years old at the time this bibliography was written, and it was only after the Chinese regime banned the organization in July 1999 that it began to attract scholarly and media attention. In comparison to other organized religions, the Falun Gong is in its ecclesiastical infancy, untouched by power struggle over internal doctrinal disputes, alternative mission choices, and apostolic succession crises. Consequently, many of the analytic foci have been on its early institutional history of rapid growth, and its conflict with the Chinese state. The bibliography is organized into five main parts. It is introduced by studies providing an institutional overview, historical and social background, China’s religious policy, and theoretical approaches. This is followed by a second section listing reference and data sources both from the Falun Gong and the Chinese and US governments. Works by its founder (Li Hongzhi), its basic beliefs, and its teachings constitute the third part. The fourth section comprises studies that analyze its growth, its recruitment process, the health effects of practicing its breathing exercises, and regional patterns of its operations. A final section groups research on its relations with the Chinese state, suppression, deprogramming, and legal justification by the Chinese government.

General Overviews

Most monographs on the Falun Gong provide a general overview of its developments before the ban in China and underscore its affinity with Buddhism. Works on its historical roots and social background reference its links with China’s religious tradition and market reforms. Studies on China’s religious policy provide the political background, while those on theoretical models of the Falun Gong offer more-explicit analytical approaches.

Institutional History

This section includes most of the research monographs in this bibliography, among which Ownby 2008 and Palmer 2007 offer the best-researched accounts. Chang 2004, Ching 2001, and Seiwert 2000 are early overviews. Madsen 2000 focuses on religious history, Tong 2002 concentrates on its organization, while Tong 2012 provides a study of the post-crackdown underground Falun Gong in China.

  • Chang, Maria Hsia. Falun Gong: The End of Days. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2004.

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    The first monograph on the rise of the Falun Gong, with cogent analysis of syncretic beliefs and cultivation practice, its roots in the historical millenarianism, and its effective organization as a threat to the party-state, culminating in its eventual ban by the regime.

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    • Ching, Julia. “The Falun Gong: Religious and Political Implications.” American Asian Review 19.4 (2001): 1–18.

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      Provides an overview of the Falun Gong, its founder (Li Hongzhi) and his teachings, and its relations with Buddhism and with the Chinese government.

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      • Madsen, Richard. “Understanding Falun Gong.” Current History 99.638 (2000): 243–249.

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        An early analysis of the Falun Gong as a modern folk Buddhist religion with physical-spiritual healing exercises; critical of the Chinese government repression of the group.

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        • Ownby, David. Falun Gong and the Future of China. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

          DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195329056.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

          One of the best research monographs on the rise of the Falun Gong and its conflict with the Chinese government, against the historical background of China’s religious tradition, as well as on the modern qigong movement, post-Mao reforms, and party politics.

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          • Palmer, David A. Qigong Fever: Body, Science, and Utopia in China. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007.

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            An excellent, thorough, and well-documented study on the emergence and demise of the qigong movement in China from the late 1970s to the early 1990s, with two chapters on the Falun Gong.

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            • Seiwert, Hubert. “Falun Gong––A New Religious Movement as Archenemy in the Domestic Politics of the Chinese Government.” Religion-Staat-Gesellschaft 1.1 (2000): 119–144.

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              An early study of the Falun Gong as a new religious movement: its basic teachings, its growth, its cultural roots, and reasons why it incurred the wrath of the Chinese government.

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              • Tong, James. “An Organizational Analysis of the Falun Gong: Structure, Communications, Financing.” China Quarterly 171 (September 2002): 636–661.

                DOI: 10.1017/S0009443902000402Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                Analyzes the organization of the Falun Gong inside China, presenting two conflicting views (the Falun Gong vs. the government) of its organizational structure, its communications system, and its financing system.

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                • Tong, James W. “Banding after the Ban: the Underground Falungong in China, 1999–2011.” Journal of Contemporary China 21.78 (2012): 1045–1062.

                  DOI: 10.1080/10670564.2012.701039Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                  Describes the small-group meetings and Fa conferences where underground Falun Gong communities share experiences and provide mutual support, as well as the “clarify the truth” activities and the material centers that link the mainland with the global Falun Gong congregation.

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                  Historical and Social Background

                  The rise of the Falun Gong has been variously linked to state-society relations in premodern China (Ownby 2003, Rahn 2002), ideological crisis (Xiao 2001), and market reforms (Zheng 2002, Shepherd 2005).

                  • Ownby, David. “A History for Falun Gong: Popular Religion and the Chinese State since the Ming Dynasty.” Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 6.2 (2003): 223–243.

                    DOI: 10.1525/nr.2003.6.2.223Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                    Analyzes their doctrines and practices, linking the historical traditions of Falun Gong and qigong to the “White Lotus” sect of the mid-Ming dynasty (1368–1644) in China.

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                    • Rahn, Patsy. “The Chemistry of a Conflict: The Chinese Government and the Falun Gong.” Terrorism and Political Violence 14.4 (2002): 41–65.

                      DOI: 10.1080/714005633Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                      Traces the historical roots of state-religion relations that shaped the confrontation between the Falun Gong and the Chinese government and the conflict in their ideologies, and discusses the intensity of the polemics of both sides during the conflict.

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                      • Shepherd, Robert J. “Age of the Law’s End: Falun Gong and the Cultivation of Modernity in Post-Maoist China.” International Journal of Cultural Studies 8.4 (2005): 387–404.

                        DOI: 10.1177/1367877905058341Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                        Explains the rise and demise of the Falun Gong in China, and its subsequent rebirth abroad, attributing its rise to the transformative effects of global market forces.

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                        • Xiao, Hongyan. “Falun Gong and the Ideological Crisis of the Chinese Communist Party: Marxist Atheism vs. Vulgar Theism.” East Asia: An International Quarterly 19.1–2 (2001): 123–143.

                          DOI: 10.1007/s12140-001-0004-2Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                          Traces the rise of the Falun Gong to the corrosive influence of the market reforms, the growing intolerance of the public against government hypocrisy and corruption, and the “culture of indirect resistance.”

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                          • Zheng, Yongnian. “State Rebuilding, Popular Protest and Collective Action in China.” Japanese Journal of Political Science 3.1 (2002): 45–70.

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                            Analyzes the rise of the Falun Gong as a social movement and collective action resulting from the reforms in the post-Mao era.

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                            Religious Policy of China

                            To place the Falun Gong issue in its larger policy context, State Council 2005 is the most current authoritative and comprehensive religious-policy statute, analyzed in Tong 2010a. Chan and Carlson 2005 is a comprehensive and useful research guide. DuBois 2010 suggests that China should adopt a differentiated policy toward different congregations. Qu 2011 and Tong 2010b link current religious policy to the larger political and socioeconomic reforms. He 2004 and Wang 2002 provide the party-line accounts of issues and developments in religious policy.

                            • Chan, Kim-Kwong, and Eric R. Carlson. Religious Freedom in China: Policy, Administration, and Regulation; A Research Handbook. Santa Barbara, CA: Institute for the Study of American Religion, 2005.

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                              The most current and comprehensive research guide to religious policy and administration in China, including national and local statutes, theory and implementation, and electronic data sources.

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                              • DuBois, Thomas David. “Religion and the Chinese State: Three Crises and a Solution.” In Special Issue: Religious Nationalism and Nation-Building in Asia. Australian Journal of International Affairs 64.3 (June 2010): 344–358.

                                DOI: 10.1080/10357711003736501Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                Argues that the double-handed policy of suppressing and restricting some religious congregations while supporting others is not contradictory but is a consistent policy to establish firm control over religious organization, while visiting integrating religion into nation-building efforts.

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                                • He Husheng 何虎生. Zhongguo gongchandang di zongjiao zhengce yanjiu (中囯共产党的宗教政策研究). Beijing: Zongjiao wenhua chubanshe, 2004.

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                                  A chronological exposition of religious policy as part of the history of the Chinese Communist Party, from the revolutionary-war period to the current era.

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                                  • Qu, Hong. “Religious Policy in the People’s Republic of China: An Alternative Perspective.” Journal of Contemporary China 20.70 (June 2011): 433–448.

                                    DOI: 10.1080/10670564.2011.565176Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                    Argues that there is a distinct Chinese model of religious affairs similar to its economic development path, which is shaped by the party’s changing view of religion, the nature of its new religious policy and law, and the function of its supervision of religion.

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                                    • State Council, People’s Republic of China. Decree of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China: Regulations of Religious Affairs. No. 426 (1 March 2005).

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                                      The most comprehensive and authoritative national religious-policy statute in the reform period, stipulating generally greater institutional autonomy for religious organizations, religious personnel, and ownership and management of religious property, and less state control and right of religious communities to contest government decisions.

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                                      • Tong, James. “Caesarean Delivery: The Regulations on Religious Affairs in China, March 2005.” Religion, State and Society 38.4 (2010a): 379–399.

                                        DOI: 10.1080/09637494.2010.525320Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                        Argues that the new religious policy expands the institutional autonomy of religious organizations, circumscribes power of the state intervention, offers better protection of religious property, and allows for greater communion with the global religious congregation.

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                                        • Tong, James W. “The New Religious Policy in China: Catching Up with Systemic Reforms.” Asian Survey 50.5 (2010b): 859–887.

                                          DOI: 10.1525/as.2010.50.5.859Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                          Argues that the new religious policy toward greater autonomy of religious institutions and less state control is part of the larger political and administrative reforms in China.

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                                          • Wang Zuoan 王作安. Zhongguo di zongjiao wenti he zongjiao zhengce (中囯的宗教問题和宗教政策). Beijing: Zongjiao wenhua chubanshe, 2002.

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                                            An exposition of basic historical and current religious problems and policy, by the incumbent director of the State Administration of Religious Affairs in China.

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                                            Theoretical Approaches

                                            Contrary to most of the analyses of the Falun Gong, the following employ a more explicit theoretical framework to approach the problem, as collective protest (Chung, et al. 2006; Zheng 2002 and Xiao 2001, both cited under Historical and Social Background), new religious movement (Chan 2004, Malek 2001), and social or political discourse (Thornton 2002, Xiao 2011). Lu 2010, Lu 2005, and Lu and Lang 2006 offer insightful analyses on how state repression can lead to organizational adaptation, doctrinal revisions, demographic changes of its members, and leadership.

                                            • Chan, Cheris Shun-ching. “The Falun Gong in China: A Sociological Perspective.” China Quarterly 179 (September 2004): 665–683.

                                              DOI: 10.1017/S0305741004000530Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                              Argues that the Falun Gong is not a sect but a cult-like new religious movement, drawing its strength from the unresolved secular problems, normative breakdown, and ideological vacuum of China created by market reforms.

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                                              • Chung, Jae Ho, Hongyi Lai, and Ming Xia. “Mounting Challenges to Governance in China: Surveying Collective Protestors, Religious Sects and Criminal Organizations.” China Journal 56 (July 2006): 1–31.

                                                DOI: 10.2307/20066184Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                The Falun Gong was one of the collective protest movements that challenged the Chinese state. While generating disorder and instability, these movements were not strong enough to weaken or overthrow the current regime.

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                                                • Lu, Yunfeng. “Entrepreneurial Logics and the Evolution of Falun Gong.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 44.2 (2005): 173–185.

                                                  DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-5906.2005.00274.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                  Using a religious-economy model, this excellent article analyzes the evolution of Falun Gong from a qigong organization to a salvation-oriented religious firm, while adopting other organizational and doctrinal mechanisms to sustain practitioners and to prevent schisms.

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                                                  • Lu Yunfeng 卢云峰. “Kunan yu zongjiao zengzhang: Guanzhi di fei yuqi xiaoguo” (苦难与宗敎増長:管制的非預期效果). Shehui/Society: Chinese Journal of Sociology 社会 30.4 (2010): 200–216.

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                                                    Analyzes the growth of repressed religions, arguing that they can create adaptive doctrines and institutions, filter out half-hearted members, and sustain morale.

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                                                    • Lu, Yunfeng, and Graeme Lang. “Impact of the State on the Evolution of a Sect.” Sociology of Religion 67.3 (2006): 249–270.

                                                      DOI: 10.1093/socrel/67.3.249Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                      Analyzes the impact of the state on the size, prosperity of the sect, and the social characteristics of members, increasing the likelihood of schism and preventing the orderly succession of leaders and the emergence of a professionalized and educated priesthood.

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                                                      • Malek, Roman. “Prescribed Orthodoxy: The Chinese State and the New Religiosity; An Old Problem in a New Guise?” Religion-Staat-Gesellschaft 2.2 (2001): 243–269.

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                                                        Reviews the history of the Falun Gong as a new religion, against the background of heterodoxy and heterogeneity in Chinese religious and political history.

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                                                        • Thornton, Patricia M. “Framing Dissent in Contemporary China: Irony, Ambiguity and Metonymy.” China Quarterly 171 (September 2002): 661–681.

                                                          DOI: 10.1017/S0009443902000414Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                          Using social-movement theories, the article analyzes the ironic, ambiguous, or metonymic frames of the Falun Gong as adaptive strategies of articulating dissenting views under government repression.

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                                                          • Xiao Ming. The Cultural Economy of Falun Gong in China: A Rhetorical Perspective. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2011.

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                                                            A rare analysis of the discursive contest between the Falun Gong and the Chinese regime and their rhetorical strategies, written by a former official of the Ministry of Culture with communications training, using a pseudonym.

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                                                            Reference and Primary Data Sources

                                                            Few social or religious movements or government suppression campaigns offer data sources that are as rich and complete as those on the Falun Gong and the regime’s effort to outlaw it. Both for the Chinese government and the Falun Gong, there are news agencies and printed and online databases that are user friendly, with searchable functions and downloadable full-text deliveries. Almost all these, however, are in Chinese, although some Falun Gong sources are available in English and other languages.

                                                            Chinese Government Sources

                                                            While the degree of control varies, most printed- and electronic-media organizations in China are owned by government or Communist Party agencies at different administrative levels, as are those included here. Reports on the Falun Gong can be found in the official news agency (Xinhua), the leading newspaper (Renmin ribao), the largest online database (Quanguo baokan suoyin), the most comprehensive full-text database (Zhongguo xueshu qikan) and a database of several hundred news media on China (ABYZ News Links).

                                                            Falun Gong Sources

                                                            The Falun Gong has created a vast communications empire outside China. Its global media network includes a global television station (New Tang Dynasty), radio stations (Sound of Hope, Minghui Radio), a daily newspaper (Epochtimes), a weekly magazine (New Epoch Weekly), a news agency, and the Falun Gong official website (Minghui), through which Li Hongzhi publishes his writings, speeches, and photos, and which serves as the authoritative source on Falun Gong official history, doctrine, and practice.

                                                            • Epoch Times (Da jiyuan shibao 大纪元时報).

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                                                              Published in nineteen languages and distributed mostly free in large Chinese communities and in thirty-five countries on five continents, the newspaper has press bureaus in sixty countries and regions of the world, as well as a printing and publications press.

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                                                              • Minghui (明慧).

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                                                                This official website of the Falun Dafa organization worldwide has been the exclusive Falun Gong organ through which it communicates authoritative teachings and policy with its global community. See also the complete archive of news items, searchable from 1 January 1999 to the current date, classified under different screen headings (worldwide news, accounts of persecution, multimedia, reference, practicing Falun Dafa, etc.).

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                                                                • Minghui Radio (明慧广播电台).

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                                                                  Lists program schedules both in US and Beijing time, and descriptions of contents of its seventeen programs, which can be listened to online.

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                                                                  • New Epoch Weekly (Xin jiyuan zhoukan 新纪元周刊).

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                                                                    Published by the Taipei subsidiary of the Epoch Times, the weekly is a general interest magazine, with analysis of current political news in China and with columns on art, history, world travel, and new developments in medicine and technology.

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                                                                    • New Tang Dynasty Television (新唐人电视台).

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                                                                      Broadcast via satellite in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, and streaming through its eight language websites, the station focuses on political news, traditional Chinese culture, and general interest stories, with ten news programs, ten analysis and interview programs, twenty-seven programs on humanities education, and twenty-four programs on sports and leisure.

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                                                                      • Sound of Hope (Xiwang zhi sheng 希望之声).

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                                                                        Official website of radio station affiliated with the Falun Gong, based in San Francisco and Sydney, with round-the-clock news reporting on China, cultural programming, and talk show and commentary, broadcasting to twenty cities in North and South America, Australia, Asia, and Europe, in Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien) and six other languages.

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                                                                        US Government Sources

                                                                        The US Congress and the Congressional Executive Committee on China have convened several hearings and roundtables on the Falun Gong. These include testimonies by academics (US Congress 2005a) and statements by executives of the Falun Gong–affiliated media organizations (US Congress 2005b), as well as those of the Falun Dafa Information Center (US Congress 2010) and by two authors of a report on organ harvesting on Falun Gong practitioners (US Congress 2006).

                                                                        Basic Beliefs and Teachings

                                                                        The entire corpus of the Falun Gong doctrine and cultivation practice, as well as Li Hongzhi’s lectures and comments, are accessible in Minghui, the official website of the Falun Gong (see under Falun Gong Sources).

                                                                        Core Falun Dafa Texts

                                                                        The basic doctrinal core and cultivation practice are set forth in the five texts written by Li Hongzhi. The Chinese versions are downloadable from the Minghui website (see under Falon Gong Sources), and they are also available in translations in several major languages on the Falun Dafa website. Li 2006 (originally published in 1994) and Li 2003 are the basic doctrinal texts, Li 2001a and Dayuanmanfa (Li 2010) are supplementary commentaries, and Hongyin (Li 2001b) is a poetry collection. Li’s entire collected works of forty titles are available online (Dafa shuji, under Li Hongzhi’s Other Works from the Minghui Editorial Department).

                                                                        • Li Hongzhi 李洪志. Falun Dafa Essentials for Further Advancement. 2001a.

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                                                                          Chinese original, titled Jingjin yaozhi (精進要旨), first published in 1997, is downloadable online. A collection of eighty sayings, commentaries, and reflections of Li Hongzhi from June 1992 to March 1999. The first was titled “Analects” [Lunyu], the same title as in Confucius’s Analects, and the entire collection has the same flavor and genre. Also published in book form as Essentials for Further Development: A Falun Gong Practitioner’s Guide in 2001 (Gloucester, MA: Fair Winds).

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                                                                          • Li Hongzhi 李洪志. Grand Verses. 2001b.

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                                                                            Chinese original, titled Hong Yin (洪吟), was first published in 1999 and is downloadable online. A collection of seventy-two didactic or spiritual poems by Li Hongzhi, composed from December 1976 to November 1998.

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                                                                            • Li Hongzhi 李洪志. Zhuan Falun: Turning the Law Wheel. 2003.

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                                                                              English translation. The original, Zhuan Falun (转法轮) (Beijing: Zhongguo guangbo dianshi chubanshe, 1994), is also available online. It is also a doctrinal primer that explains the principles and exercises of the Falun Gong, in addition to an exposition of Buddhist beliefs of karma, rebirth, craving, and suffering, as well as its practices of meditation, fasting, and non-killing.

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                                                                              • Li Hongzhi 李洪志. Falun Gong (法轮功). 2006.

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                                                                                The 5th English translation. The original 1994 Chinese edition is also downloadable online. Basic doctrinal text of the Falun Gong, explaining the relationship of the Falun Gong with qigong and with Buddhism, with special chapters on the techniques and forms of the physical exercises. Also expounds on how spiritual cultivation can be attained through the principles of truthfulness, benevolence, and forbearance.

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                                                                                • Li Hongzhi 李洪志. The Great Way of Spiritual Perfection. 2010.

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                                                                                  English translation. The original 1997 version, Da Yuanmanfa (大圆满法), is also available online. This is the exercise manual of the Falun Gong, with detailed descriptions of the form and correct postures of the five sets of breathing exercises.

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                                                                                  Li Hongzhi’s Other Works from the Minghui Editorial Department

                                                                                  In addition to the basic Falun Gong doctrine, the Minghui has been exhaustive in publishing Li’s writings, the full text of his lectures (some with question-and-answer transcripts) in Falun Gong conferences (Dafa shuji), and some of his recent writings (Shifu xin jingwen), as well as comments to practitioners’ writings and letters (Shifu pingzhu wenzhang), official notices and communications in the name of its editorial department (Minghui bianzhibu wenzhang), and miscellaneous Falun Gong compilations (Minghui congshu).

                                                                                  Secondary Analysis, Reviews, Critique

                                                                                  Included in this section are analyses of Li Hongzhi’s biography (Penny 2003), his forbearance doctrine (Fisher 2003), and the martyrdom charisma of the Falun Gong (Ownby 2008); studies critical of the Falun Gong by an analyst outside China (Luo 2003), by academics inside China (Zhuan Falun pipan), and by the Buddhist Association of China (Penny 2005); a rebuttal by two Falun Gong practitioners (Xie and Zhu 2004); and an interpretation of the political drama of Falun Gong in light of the Greek myth of Antigone (Chan 2003).

                                                                                  • Chan, Stephen. “A New Triptych for International Relations in the 21st Century: Beyond Waltz and beyond Lacan’s Antigone, with a Note on the Falun Gong of China.” Global Society: Journal of Interdisciplinary International Relations 17.2 (2003): 187–208.

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                                                                                    In retelling the drama Antigone, the article proposes a new triptych for international relations and draws the parallel with the Falun Gong, which confronts the state and is prepared to suffer the death penalty rather than place state law above the higher law.

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                                                                                    • Fisher, Gareth. “Resistance and Salvation in Falun Gong: The Promise and Peril of Forbearance.” Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 6.2 (2003): 294–311.

                                                                                      DOI: 10.1525/nr.2003.6.2.294Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                      As its basic soteriology, forbearance (ren) of suffering would gain good karma for spiritual advancement, an effective tool against the regime’s persecution in China, but at the risk of strengthening a splinter sect in Hong Kong that challenges its New York leadership group.

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                                                                                      • Luo, Samuel. “What Falun Gong Really Teaches.” Cultic Studies Review 2.2 (2003).

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                                                                                        One of a few studies that are critical of Falun Gong teachings, finding them superficial, intolerant of dissent, homophobic, deceptive, and manipulative, encouraging its followers to blindly follow their master.

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                                                                                        • Ownby, David. “In Search of Charisma: The Falun Gong Diaspora.” Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 12.2 (2008): 106–120.

                                                                                          DOI: 10.1525/nr.2008.12.2.106Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                          On the basis of fieldwork, the article examines the martyrdom charisma and the embodied charisma (experience of bodily transformation) among Falun Gong practitioners in North America.

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                                                                                          • Penny, Benjamin. “The Life and Times of Li Hongzhi: Falun Gong and Religious Biography.” China Quarterly 175 (September 2003): 643–661.

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                                                                                            Analyzes the 1993 and 1994 editions of the biography of Li Hongzhi published by the Falun Gong community, which presents his superhuman abilities and insights, in the tradition of religious biography in China.

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                                                                                            • Penny, Benjamin. “The Falun Gong, Buddhism and “Buddhist qigong.” Asian Studies Review 29.1 (2005): 35–46.

                                                                                              DOI: 10.1080/10357820500139513Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                              Analyzes the use of Buddhist terminology in Falun Gong doctrine by Li Hongzhi, and criticisms thereof by the Buddhist Association of China.

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                                                                                              • Xie, Frank Tian, and Tracey Zhu. “Ancient Wisdom for Modern Predicaments: The Truth, Deceit, and Issues Surrounding Falun Gong.” Cultic Studies Review 3.1 (2004).

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                                                                                                Written by two Falun Gong practitioners who are professionals, the article clarifies the organizational and doctrinal issues of the Falun Gong, discusses the putative motivations of the Chinese government’s crackdown, and addresses issues raised by other writers.

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                                                                                                • Zhuan Falun pipan (转法轮 批判). Beijing: Beijing chubanshe, 2001.

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                                                                                                  One of the most systematic critiques of teachings of Li Hongzhi in his basic book on Falun Gong doctrine, by academics in three universities in Beijing.

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                                                                                                  Growth of the Falun Gong

                                                                                                  The global spread of the Falun Gong since 1994 to over one hundred countries on five continents has been phenomenal. This section draws on studies on Internet use and the Falun Gong’s healing effects on recruitment, on the basis of field research in different regions of the world.

                                                                                                  Recruitment, Conversion, Communications

                                                                                                  Included here are studies of the sources of appeal of the Falun Gong in recruiting members (Geren xiulian, Rath 2008) and through healing (Palmer 2003), family and friends (Lowe 2003), and the Internet (Bell and Boas 2003, Huang 2009).

                                                                                                  • Bell, Mark R., and Taylor C. Boas. “Falun Gong and the Internet: Evangelism, Community, and Struggle for Survival.” Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 6.2 (2003): 277–293.

                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1525/nr.2003.6.2.277Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                                    Argues that the Falun Gong has made skillful use of the Internet to disseminate Li Hongzhi’s teachings, for experience-sharing meetings, and to put pressure on the Chinese government.

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                                                                                                    • Geren xiulian (个人修炼).

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                                                                                                      Lists 5,685 testimonials from practitioners who recount their personal cultivation experiences of practicing the Falun Gong, including the source of appeal.

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                                                                                                      • Huang, Bi Yun. “Analyzing a Social Movement’s Use of Internet: Resource Mobilization, New Social Movement Theories and the Case of Falun Gong.” PhD diss., Indiana University, 2009.

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                                                                                                        Analyzes the use, development, and impact of the Internet by the Falun Gong, in terms of resource mobilization and new social-movement theories.

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                                                                                                        • Lowe, Scott. “Chinese and International Contexts for the Rise of Falun Gong.” Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 6.2 (2003): 263–276.

                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1525/nr.2003.6.2.263Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                                          Surveying eighty-five Falun Gong practitioners in June 2000, it finds that the Internet was not significant in recruitment, which was based initially on family and friends and prospects for better health and was sustained by the soteriological belief system of Li Hongzhi.

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                                                                                                          • Palmer, Susan J. “From Healing to Protest: Conversion Patterns among the Practitioners of Falun Gong.” Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 6.2 (2003): 348–364.

                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1525/nr.2003.6.2.348Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                                            An informative analysis of the process from recruitment to conversion of Falun Gong practitioners, on the basis of fieldwork and interviews in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, New York, and Waco, Texas, in 2000 and 2002.

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                                                                                                            • Rath, G. David. “Socialization as Education in a Cross-Cultural Revitalization Movement in Southern California.” PhD diss., School of Intercultural Studies, Biola University, 2008.

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                                                                                                              A study on how the Falun Gong recruits and instructs its practitioners in Southern California, which finds that its appeal lies in its ability to address problems of modern society––failures of existing epistemology, ontology, health care, morality, politics, community, aesthetics, and the education of the young.

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                                                                                                              Health Effects and Public Health Issues

                                                                                                              Overall beneficial health effects have been generally reported among Falun Gong practitioners (Jiankang diaocha baogao, Zhengfa xiulian, Gale 2003). But both the Chinese government and some family members of the Falun Gong have claimed that there were harmful effects as well (Zhao 2000, Langone 2003). This gives rise to the legal-political issue whether the Chinese state was justified in outlawing the Falun Gong to protect public health (Langone 2003). A related issue is the allegation that the Chinese government misused psychiatry and adopted Soviet-style tactics on Falun Gong practitioners (Stone 2005).

                                                                                                              • Gale, Deborah Dysart, and W. M. Gorman-Yao. “Falungong: Recent Developments in Chinese Notions of Healing.” Journal of Cultural Diversity 10.4 (2003): 124–127.

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                                                                                                                Summarizes the social background of the rise of the Falun Gong, the effects of its breathing exercises on healing and health, and implications for the nursing practice.

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                                                                                                                • Jiankang diaocha baogao (健康调查报告).

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                                                                                                                  This section lists eleven reports, including six surveys of health effects of practicing the Falun Gong, administered from 1998 to 2003 (12,731 respondents in Beijing, 12,553 in Guangdong, 1,182 in Taiwan, 2,005 in Wuhan, 235 in the United States and Canada, 12 in Moscow), all showing significant improvements.

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                                                                                                                  • Langone, Michael D. “Reflections on Falun Gong and the Chinese Government.” Cultic Studies Review 2.2 (2003).

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                                                                                                                    A dispassionate reflection by the review editor on the conflict between the Falun Gong community, which alleges persecution by the Chinese government, and the claims of the government and family members of the Falun Gong about harmful effects of the practice and the threat to public order.

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                                                                                                                    • Stone, Alan A. “The China Psychiatry Crisis: Following Up on the Plight of the Falun Gong.” Psychiatric Times 22.6 (2005): 1–9.

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                                                                                                                      A report on the Beijing meeting between the World Psychiatric Association and the Chinese Society of Psychiatry to discuss clinical, ethical-legal, and diagnostic issues arising out of allegations of political misuse of psychiatry, involving practitioners of Falun Gong and political dissidents.

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                                                                                                                      • Zhao Jianxun 赵建勋, comp. Zui e: Falun Gong shouhaizhe xuelei kongshu (罪恶: 法轮功受害者血涙控诉). Beijing: Zhongguo minzhu fazhi chubanshe, 2000.

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                                                                                                                        A documentary compilation of one hundred cases of alleged testimonies of former Falun Gong practitioners and their families on the harmful physical and mental health effects of practicing the Falun Gong.

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                                                                                                                        • Zhengfa xiulian (正法修炼).

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                                                                                                                          This includes over fifty thousand articles from practitioners who share their experiences of cultivating the Falun Gong, including beneficial health effects on different kinds of illness.

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                                                                                                                          Regional Patterns and Field Research

                                                                                                                          An unintended consequence of the ban on the Falun Gong inside China has been its rapid growth in the diaspora; it claims to have established practice sites in all five continents (Gedi liangongdian) and to have received thousands of commendations, letters, and resolutions of support from host nations and communities (Gejie bujiang). The studies included in this section document the organization, practice, or demographic profile of the Falun Gong in Malaysia (Ackerman 2005), Russia (Kravchuk 2010), Hong Kong (Kung 2004), Yunnan (Xiang 2002), and the New World (Ownby 2003).

                                                                                                                          • Ackerman, Susan E. “Falun Dafa and the New Age Movement in Malaysia: Signs of Health, Symbols of Salvation.” Social Compass 52.4 (2005): 495–511.

                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1177/0037768605058186Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                                                            Analyzes the introduction of the Falun Gong into the mind-and-body development market in Malaysia as a New Age product and how it differentiates itself from other sectarian groups in the diverse Malaysian Chinese community.

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                                                                                                                            • Gedi liangongdian (各地炼功奌).

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                                                                                                                              A listing of all practice sites in fifty-nine countries and regions, by country, city, location, weekly schedule, contact persons, and phone numbers.

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                                                                                                                              • Gejie bujiang (各界褒奖).

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                                                                                                                                A listing of the full text of 1,793 commendations, various resolutions, 361 bills, and 1,170 letters of support from the national and local governments and individual elected officials in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Oceania.

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                                                                                                                                • Kravchuk, Liudmila A. “Activity of the Chinese Religious Movement Falun Gong in Russia.” In Religion and Politics in Russia: A Reader. Edited by Marjorie M. Balzer, 258–270. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                  A general overview of the physical practice for health improvement and spiritual cultivation of the Falun Gong in St. Petersburg.

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                                                                                                                                  • Kung, Lap-Yan. “Politics and Religions in Hong Kong after 1997: Whether Tension or Equilibrium Is Needed.” Religion, State and Society 32.1 (2004): 21–36.

                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1080/0963749042000182087Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                                                                    Presents the Falun Gong as a case to illustrate the political autonomy of Hong Kong under the “One Country, Two Systems” relations with China, under which the congregation is banned on the mainland but allowed to practice in Hong Kong.

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                                                                                                                                    • Ownby, David. “The Falun Gong in the New World.” European Journal of East Asian Studies 2.2 (2003): 303–320.

                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1163/157006103771378437Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                                                                      A general overview of the Falun Gong as a new religious movement both in and outside China, on the basis of the author’s fieldwork in North America, Falun Gong publications, and historical research on traditional Chinese folk religions.

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                                                                                                                                      • Xiang Xiang 向翔, ed. Yunnan: Pojie Falun Gong (云南: 破解法轮功). Kunming, China: Yunnan minzhu chubanshe, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                        A detailed account of the institutional history, organizational structure, and growth of the Falun Gong movement in Yunnan. It is the only such account published by any province or city in China.

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                                                                                                                                        Relations and Conflict between State and Society

                                                                                                                                        This section includes studies on the political relations between the Falun Gong and the Chinese government, the latter’s major suppression against the congregation in 1999, the legal justification, and the deprogramming effort.

                                                                                                                                        Falun Gong Relations with the Chinese Government

                                                                                                                                        These articles analyze the relations between the Falun Gong and the Chinese state from different perspectives, including but not limited to historical legacy (Ownby 2006), law (Keith and Lin 2003, Leung 2002), conflicting public policy goals (Lagone 2007), and the dynamic interactions between the two parties as academic debate (Rosedale 2003a, Rosedale 2003b, Robbins 2003).

                                                                                                                                        • Keith, Ronald C., and Zhiqiu Lin. “The ‘Falun Gong Problem’: Politics and the Struggle for the Rule of Law in China.” China Quarterly 175 (September 2003): 623–642.

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                                                                                                                                          Analyzes the tension between the conflicting goals of establishing human rights under the rule of law and the political exigency of maintaining public order, resulting in a revived principle of flexibility.

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                                                                                                                                          • Lagone, Michael D. “The PRC and Falun Gong.” Cultic Studies Review 6.3 (2007): 235–285.

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                                                                                                                                            An in-depth examination of the relationship between the Chinese government and the Falun Gong, by the executive director of the International Cultic Studies Association and editor of the Cultic Studies Review, deploring the persecution as unnecessary and destructive but characterizing Li Hongzhi as a dreamer and schemer, and his cosmology as completely incredible.

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                                                                                                                                            • Leung, Beatrice. “China and Falun Gong: Party and Society Relations in the Modern Era.” Journal of Contemporary China 11.33 (2002): 761–784.

                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1080/1067056022000008904Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                                                                              Analyzes the relations between the Falun Gong and the Chinese state, in terms of the indigenous Chinese culture, legal constraints, and modern communications technology.

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                                                                                                                                              • Ownby, David. “Qigong, Falun Gong, et la religion de l’État moderne chinois.” Sociologie et Sociétés 38.1 (2006): 93–112.

                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.7202/013710arSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                                                                                Illuminates the Western debate between advocates of religious freedom and those upholding the right of the state to restrict cult activities, by examining the case of the Falun Gong and China’s concept of religion, superstition, or heterodoxy and its religious situation.

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                                                                                                                                                • Robbins, Thomas. “Cults, State Control, and Falun Gong: A Comment on Herbert Rosedale’s ‘Perspectives on Cults as Affected by the September 11th Tragedy.’” Cultic Studies Review 2.2 (2003).

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                                                                                                                                                  Deplores elements of the American “Anticult Movement” for supporting the authoritarian Chinese government’s persecution of the Falun Gong, arguing that persecution often elicits apocalypticism in a sect.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Rosedale, Herbert. “Ideology, Demonization, and Scholarship: The Need for Objectivity—a Response to Robbins’ ‘Comments on Rosedale, the Chinese Government, and Falun Gong.’” Cultic Studies Review 2.2 (2003a).

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                                                                                                                                                    A response from Rosedale to the comments in Robbins 2003, arguing that Robbins ignores the right of secular authorities to place restrictions on religious practices for the public good.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Rosedale, Herbert. “Perspectives on Cults as Affected by the September 11th Tragedy.” Cultic Studies Review 2.1 (2003b).

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                                                                                                                                                      Presented at the Beijing meeting of the China Anti-cult Association in 2001, by the president of the American Family Foundation, the article examines the relationship between the cultic leader and its followers and between group members and noncult members of society, as well as society’s role in establishing a relationship between cult and noncult groups.

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                                                                                                                                                      The Crackdown / Anti–Falun Gong Campaign

                                                                                                                                                      Beginning on 22 July 1999, the regime officially outlawed the Falun Gong. Included here are studies of the planning and execution of suppression operations (Tong 2009), of the publications campaign (Tong 2005), of the use of satire in official propaganda (Gao and Pugsley 2008), and of the relentless media campaign (Renmin ribao, Xinhuashe, Zhongguo chuban nianjian, Zhongyang dianshitai).

                                                                                                                                                      • Gao, Jia, and Peter C. Pugsley. “Utilizing Satire in Post-Deng Chinese Politics: Zhao Benshan Xiaopin vs. the Falun Gong.” China Information 22.3 (2008): 451–476.

                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1177/0920203X08096793Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                                                                                        Examines how the Chinese Communist Party used the satirical power of the popular comedian Zhao Benshan as a political weapon to “educate the masses” on the evils of the Falun Gong.

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                                                                                                                                                        • “Renmin ribao—Jie pi xiejiao ‘Falun Gong’ xuanchuan baodao di tihui” (人民日報-揭批邪敎‘法轮功’宣传报导的体会). Zhongguo xinwen nianjian 2000 中囯新聞年鉴 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                          A summary report of the official organ of the CCP Central Committee’s media campaign against the Falun Gong, describing the three stages of the campaign. Consists of 780 articles, nearly100 photos, and web page hits. See pp. 205–206.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Tong, James W. “Publish to Perish: Regime Choices and Propaganda Impact in the Anti-Falungong Publications Campaign, July 1999–April 2000.” Journal of Contemporary China 14.44 (2005): 507–523.

                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1080/10670560500115465Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                                                                                            Analyzes the operational choices and policy impact of the Anti–Falun Gong Publications Campaign in 1999–2000; in particular, the campaign strategy, publisher selection, propaganda themes, and public receptivity.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Tong, James W. Revenge of the Forbidden City: The Suppression of the Falungong in China, 1999–2005. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                              On the basis of primary official Chinese sources, the study examines how the Chinese government planned and executed the campaign to suppress the Falun Gong with relentless suppression, massive propaganda, and coercive conversion.

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                                                                                                                                                              • “Xinhuashe—Jie pi xiejiao ‘Falun Gong’ baodao di te dian” (新华社-揭批邪敎‘法轮功’报导的特点). Zhongguo xinwen nianjian 2000 中囯新聞年鉴 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                A summary report of the Xinhua News Agency media campaign against the Falun Gong, including the breakdown of 980 domestic releases, 970 international releases, and 313 special-reference items and photos. See pp. 206–207.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Zhongguo chuban nianjian 2000 中囯新聞年鉴 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Lists the title of the 120 books selected for the official anti–Falun Gong book series. See pp. 470–472.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • “Zhongyang dianshitai dui jie pi Li Hongzhi ji xiejiao ‘Falun Gong’ di xuanchuan baodao” (中央电视台对揭批李洪志及邪敎‘法轮功’ 的宣传报导). Zhongguo Zhongyang dianshitai nianjian 2000 中央电视台年鉴 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                    A summary propaganda report of the CCTV media campaign against the Falun Gong, with detailed descriptions of the major programs, investigative reports, special news magazines, production history, and the three stages of the campaign. See pp. 112–114.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Legal Analysis of Government Suppression

                                                                                                                                                                    This section includes a study on Japanese laws on donation to cults and the relation of those laws to China (Yamaguchi 2003), as well as studies on the Chinese government’s sentencing document of five officials of the Dafa Research Society in Beijing (Beijing shi 2000) and on Chinese laws and regulations that the government contends legalized banning the Falun Gong and its attendant law-enforcement operations (Zhonggong zhongyang xuanchuan buchu banju 1999). The latter is challenged by legal professionals outside China (Edelman and Richardson 2003, Edelman and Richardson 2005, Zhu 2010, Bejesky 2004).

                                                                                                                                                                    • Beijing shi 北京市. “Diyi zhongji renmin fayuan xingshi panjueshu” (第一中級人民法院刑亊判決书). In Zui e: Falun Gong shouhaizhe xuelei kongshu (罪恶 –法轮功受害者血涙控诉). Edited by Zhao Jianxun 赵建勋, 251–291. Beijing: Zhongguo minzhu fazhi chubanshe, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                      The thirty-eight-page sentencing document presents all the charges and ruling of the Beijing Intermediate Court against the Falun Dafa Research Society in December 1999, and an inventory list of fifty-five confiscated items.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Bejesky, Robert. “Falun Gong & Re-education through Labor: Traditional Rehabilitation for the ‘Misdirected’ to Protect Societal Stability within China’s Evolving Criminal Justice System.” Columbia Journal of Asian Law 17.2 (2004): 148–189.

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                                                                                                                                                                        Analyzes the Chinese legal institution and practice of “re-education through labor” as a form of administrative detention of Falun Gong practitioners, arguing that pressure from international human rights groups led to prohibitions on its practices in February 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Edelman, Bryan, and James T. Richardson. “Falun Gong and the Law: Development of Legal Social Control in China.” Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 6.2 (2003): 312–331.

                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1525/nr.2003.6.2.312Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          Using China’s constitution, laws, and international treaty commitments, the article contends that its campaign against the Falun Gong violated its own legal system.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Edelman, Bryan, and James T. Richardson. “Imposed Limitations on Freedom of Religion in China and the Margin of Appreciation Doctrine: A Legal Analysis of the Crackdown on the Falun Gong and Other ‘Evil Cults.’” Journal of Church and State 47.2 (2005): 243–267.

                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1093/jcs/47.2.243Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                            Presents a legal critique against the Chinese government’s crackdown of the Falun Gong, by using the “principle of proportionality” and the “margin of appreciation” to evaluate state infringement on religious rights.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Yamaguchi, Hiroshi. “Japanese Activities to Counter Cults.” Cultic Studies Review 2.3 (2003): 225–229.

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                                                                                                                                                                              Discusses Japanese judicial standards in donations to cults, taking an agnostic position on the conflict between the Falun Gong and the Chinese government.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Zhonggong zhongyang xuanchuan buchu banju, ed. Zhenxiang yu sikao: shenru jiepi Li Hongzhi jiqi Falun Gong (真相与思攷: 深入揭批李洪志及其法轮功). Beijing: Xueshi chubanshe, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                                One of the more authoritative compilations of anti–Falun Gong documents, edited by the Propaganda Department publishing house of the CCP Central Committee. The first part includes notices and decrees by fourteen central state and party agencies on the Falun Gong.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Zhu, Guobin. “Prosecuting ‘Evil Cults’: A Critical Examination of Law regarding Freedom of Religious Belief in Mainland China.” Human Rights Quarterly 32.3 (2010): 471–501.

                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1353/hrq.2010.0004Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                  Examines the legal basis for prosecuting the Falun Gong and other sects as an “evil cult,” arguing against its use while acknowledging that such use simultaneously protects and restricts the freedom of religious belief.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Deprogramming

                                                                                                                                                                                  This section includes studies on China’s deprogramming efforts, such as brainwashing (Kent 2008) and cult rehabilitation (Report of China’s Anti-cult Association Delegation), as well as on de-recruitment (Richardson 2011, Xiang 2002) and its different modes (Tong 2009).

                                                                                                                                                                                  • Kent, Stephen A. “Contemporary Uses of the Brainwashing Concept: 2000 to Mid-2007.” Cultic Studies Review 7.2 (2008): 99–128.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    Summarizes court cases where use of brainwashing was reported to have been practiced on cult members, terrorists, and victims of state repression between 2000 and 2007, leading to impaired judgment of the subjects, with special reference to China in the 1950s.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • “Report of China’s Anti-cult Association Delegation Visiting Cult Rehabilitation Center.” Cultic Studies Review 2.1 (2002).

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                                                                                                                                                                                      An interesting report, not referenced elsewhere, of China’s Anti-cult Association visiting the Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center, a residential treatment facility for former members of cultic groups in Albany, Ohio, in October 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Richardson, James T. “Deprogramming: From Private Self-Help to Governmental Organized Repression.” Crime, Law and Social Change 55.4 (2011): 321–336.

                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1007/s10611-011-9286-5Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                        Examines different forms of de-recruitment from cults, from private-self-help in the United States, to the coercive, systematic government program against the Falun Gong in China.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Tong, James W. Revenge of the Forbidden City: The Suppression of the Falungong in China, 1999–2005. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          Describes various modes of conversion through education for Falun Gong practitioners, the use of conversion teams, responsibility systems, those in penal institutions, and the special program in Heilongjiang and Yunnan Provinces. See pp. 102–129.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Xiang Xiang 向翔. Yunnan: Pojie Falun Gong (云南:破解法轮功). Kunming, China: Yunnan minzhu chubanshe, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            An informative report on the special de-recruitment of die-hard Falun Gong practitioners in Yunnan, with detailed description of the program design, management, and schedule.

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