May 27 2010

Chinese Business Behind Greek Censorship?

Censorship at Athens Concert Hall due to Cosco?

Created 26/05/2010 – 07:21

By Vasilis Kostoulas

Organizers claim deliberate postponement of the Shen Yun performance , that in its contents also presents human right abuses in China. The unexpected discontinuance of ticket sales happened at the same time with the visit in Athens of the President of the Chinese Company, Cosco (This Company is active in Piraeus port). Athens Concert Hall claimed the need to have their ventilation system in the particular Hall that will stage the show be persevered. Meanwhile the Hall emphasizes that it is not cancellation but postponement of the artistic event.

The performance Shen Yun is based on traditional Chinese dance. It consists of 20 self contained parts. In 2 of them the artists tell about persecutions that happen to an energy practice group in China. Shen Yun performance was scheduled to be presented on the 3rd and 4th of June in Hall Alexandra Triandi of Athens Concert Hall.

“On Friday the 21st of May we got information that tickets sales has been discontinued by Wednesday morning”, said to Mr. Kostas Tsolis, President of the non profit association Falun Dafa, that it is the presenting association in Greece. Mr Tsolis added that on the day of the postponement, a happening took place in Concert Hall in which the President of Cosco, seniors of the Chinese Company and Greek politicians participated. “Obviously it is not coincidental. In almost every country that has accommodated the show, an issue has arisen,” he explained.

“As they say (Music Hall’s management) it’s about a technical problem in the particular Hall that has to be fixed in those days. However the five day conference that is scheduled for this week is not cancelled. “We shall take the risk” the president of the Music Hall said and on our part we ask why they don’t take the risk with our show too.”

The management of the Hall said that they discontinued ticket sales by way of precaution and that they didn’t inform us (the organizers) not to worry us because the matter wasn’t clear yet. They denied any interference to the show although at our meeting Mr. Manolopoulos rarely looked us straight in the eye and I could say that he was artfully calm. They told us to find new dates. In my opinion and I can say that I am certain that all these happen to avoid any issue to arise at the visit of the President of Cosco in Athens. The ticket sales have been discontinued by Wednesday morning, obviously on anticipation of his visit.”

“Despite the fact that the show has been met with the approval of the President, the Vice President and members of the European Parliament, the show internationally has met similar problems that are caused by the local Chinese embassies. In general those interferences have not succeeded but in Romania for example the performance has been canceled.” concludes Mr. Tsolis communicated with the Press Office of Athens Concert Hall which answering to the relevant questions said: “Those particular performances happened the same days as the preservation in the ventilation system in the particular Hall should be done (1 to 7 June). The preservation wasn’t scheduled. This specific need occurred and that is the reason why we asked the organizers to change the dates. The whole issue is related to the postponement not to the cancellation of the performance. We don’t know exactly when the performance shall be staged because our program is very tight but certainly we shall take care of it. The performance is not connected to a political issue and even if it did on Concert Hall’s part there will be no problem.”


Published on (

Apr 18 2010

LA Times: O.C. official ‘insulted’ by China letter

Supervisors’ chairman Norby is asked not to recognize upcoming events backed by Falun Gong supporters.

January 03, 2008|Christian Berthelsen | Times Staff Writer

The Chinese government has asked Orange County not to recognize two upcoming Chinese New Year performances backed by supporters of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, drawing a stern rebuke from the chairman of the county’s Board of Supervisors.

China regards the Falun Gong as a cult and a threat to the government, which outlawed the group in 1999. Falun Gong says it is an apolitical movement based on Chinese breathing exercises, and asserts its members have been persecuted.

In a Dec. 17 letter, China’s consulate general in Los Angeles said the Chinese New Year Spectacular events aimed to “defame China’s image in the international community and undermine the development of U.S.-China relations.” The letter compared Falun Gong to the Branch Davidians, which engaged federal agents in a standoff over illegal weapons stockpiles that killed 82 members near Waco, Texas, in 1993; and to the Peoples Temple, of which more than 900 members committed mass suicide in Guyana in 1978.

The Chinese New Year performances — Jan. 15 at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido and Jan. 18 at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles — are produced by New Tang Dynasty Television, a satellite station based in New York that says it offers views differing from the Chinese government’s.

A spokesman acknowledged that some of the station’s supporters are involved in Falun Gong and that a past show included an “interpretive” performance seemingly sympathetic to the group.

The letter offended Supervisor Chris Norby, the board chairman, to whom it was addressed. In an interview Wednesday, he said it amounted to “an attempt by a foreign government to dictate to American elected officials what organizations we should support, recognize or associate with.”

Norby said he had not brought up the matter with his colleagues on the board and had no plans to take official action in a board meeting. But he drafted a response to the consulate, saying: “Your letter is a formal request that the Orange County Board of Supervisors cooperate with your government’s suppression of Falun Gong. . . . I am personally insulted by your request and will certainly not honor it.”

It was not clear if the consulate’s letter was sent to Orange County as part of a mass mailing to local officials, or if Chinese envoys had a specific reason to target the board; though the letter was addressed to Norby, it was not signed.

A spokesman for the consulate did not return several telephone calls seeking comment. A spokesman for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also did not return a call, and representatives of Yvonne B. Burke, chairwoman of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, could not be reached.

The episode is yet another chapter in the back-and-forth between China and Falun Gong supporters in California. Falun Gong has been allowed to march in several parades but has been banned from others, including those in San Francisco, downtown Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley.

This week, Falun Gong supporters and other critics of China’s human rights record planned to protest a float in the Rose Parade celebrating Beijing’s staging of the 2008 Olympics; the protest largely fizzled.

In 2006, the Chinese consulate in San Francisco issued a statement warning supervisors there to “refrain from making any decisions that will cause harm to Sino-U.S. relations” when they were considering Falun Gong’s request to march in a Chinese New Year parade there. The group was allowed to march in 2004, but was denied subsequent permission.

Mar 27 2010

Irish Times: Embassy warns diplomats of Falun Gong-linked stage show

MARY FITZGERALD Foreign Affairs Correspondent

THE CHINESE embassy in Dublin has circulated a letter to all foreign diplomatic missions in the city to “kindly remind” recipients not to attend a performance by a Falun Gong-linked performing arts company at the Grand Canal Theatre this weekend.

The New York-based Shen Yun company, due to perform two shows at the newly opened theatre tomorrow, bills its performances as a mix of traditional dance, mime and music. Most of the cast are members of the Falun Gong movement which is banned in China.

On the Grand Canal Theatre website, the show is described as “weaving a wondrous story of heavenly realms, enchanting dreams, and the classic struggle between good and evil . . . following the tragic erosion of traditional Chinese culture under decades of communist rule, [Shen Yun] endeavours to rediscover a lost artistic and cultural heritage”. According to reviews, the Shen Yun show also features scenes depicting the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners.

The Grand Canal Theatre website states that Shen Yun has performed to audiences totalling more than 800,000 people in 20countries across the world. This is its first show in Ireland.

Earlier this week, the Chinese embassy e-mailed a letter marked “urgent and important” to all embassies and consulates in Dublin. The letter, which has been obtained by The Irish Times , draws attention to Shen Yun’s links with Falun Gong and describes the latter as an “illegal” group. “The embassy kindly reminds you not to attend the show,” the letter, which was sent by ambassador Liu Biwei’s secretary, states.

According to the Shen Yun website, the Dublin performances are presented by the Irish Falun Dafa (Gong) Association. All inquiries related to the shows are directed to an Irish e-mail address.


Mar 13 2010

AFP: Man vanishes before boarding flight

AFP March 11, 2010 10:42am

A NEW York-based musician is appealling for help to find her husband who vanished as he boarded a flight from China to the United States amid fears he was seized for his Falungong beliefs.

Mei Xuan, who fled to the United States from China in 2007, said she went on February 18 to Newark Liberty International Airport to welcome her husband Jiang Feng who was due on a flight from Shanghai.

But he never arrived and phone calls went unanswered. Mei said she confirmed that the 42-year-old Jiang had checked in to the Continental Airlines flight and concluded that he disappeared between security and the boarding gate.

“I’m very, very worried for him,” Mei told AFP on a recent visit to Washington, where she was seeking help from lawmakers.

“Because we both practice Falungong, we have experienced this before and know they can just take you away,” she said. “I thought we could finally be together. We want to have a baby.”

Mei plays the erhu, a Chinese stringed instrument, in the Shen Yun ensemble, which incorporates Falungong themes. The troupe was recently in the spotlight when members said they were denied visas to perform in Hong Kong.

China outlawed Falungong — a spiritual movement loosely based on Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian philosophies – in 1999 following a silent mass gathering in Beijing by its members. China denounces the group as an “evil cult”.

The New York-based Falun Dafa Information Centre, which supports Falungong’s rights, said it had information that Jiang was taken to his native Anhui province where agents are trying to force him to renounce his beliefs.

Mei, who uses an alias for security reasons, said she and her husband suffered abuse in lengthy previous spells in detention.

In one incident, Mei said plain-clothes police shoved her into a car as she waited on the street for a taxi. She said she was then handcuffed to a chair and deprived of sleep for two and a half months.

“The only reason was because I practice Falungong,” she said. “I didn’t want to give up my beliefs so they just tortured me physically and mentally.”

“My feet were so swollen I couldn’t put on any shoes.”

The Falun Dafa Information Centre appealed for international pressure to ensure Jiang’s “immediate release and safe passage to the United States”.

Feb 18 2010

The View – Shen Yun and Beijing’s interference with the show mentioned briefly

Watch the short clip

Feb 9 2010

Esther Armah interviews Leeshai Lemish on WBAI Radio

A brief discussion of the significance of what Shen Yun Performing Arts is doing and the upcoming shows at Radio City Music Hall. The interview has been posted online and starts at 19 minutes and 50 seconds.

Feb 1 2010

Wall Street Journal Editorial

Hong Kong and the Falun Gong Drama
One more sign that the territory is bowing to China’s mandarins.


In New York last month to promote the West Kowloon Cultural District development, Hong Kong Chief Secretary Henry Tang declared that the territory was poised to become “Asia’s cultural hub.” Earlier this week, Hong Kongers got a taste of the kind of “culture” they can expect. Continue reading

Jan 30 2010


Great interview with Shen Yun dancers Regina Dong and Jessica Quach, plus local presenter Levi Browde.

January 27, on the right hand side, click to download, about 47 minutes in.

Jan 29 2010

Chinese Cultural Performing Arts Urges Americans to “Take a Stand” on Human Rights —- By R.E.A.L. Organization

January 28, 2010

On January 27, 2010, the Shen Yun Performing Arts group held a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington DC, regarding the refusal of Hong Kong authorities to allow members of their pro-human rights Chinese cultural show to perform in Hong Kong.   Days before the Shen Yun Performing Arts was scheduled to perform in Hong Kong, visas for their production staff were denied, preventing their production staff with specialized knowledge of how to manage the Shen Yun performance and choreography from entering Hong Kong.  The result of the visa denial was the cancellation of sold-out shows of the Shen Yun performances, affecting 7,700 ticketed audience members. Continue reading

Jan 28 2010

Suspicion surrounds forced cancellation of Shen Yun’s Hong Kong shows

Last week, the world’s premiere Chinese classical music and dance company, Shen Yun Performing Arts, returned to Washington, DC and performed for over 33,000 Washingtonians in seven sold-out shows at The Kennedy Center. This week, Shen Yun remains in DC, but not to perform.

On January 27, Shen Yun was scheduled to make their first and highly-anticipated appearance in Hong Kong. However, their performances were abruptly cancelled due to the surprise, last-minute visa denials of seven key crew members.

The Hong Kong shows were particularly important because Continue reading