Aug 31 2013

Suspicious Burglary of Shen Yun Choreographer’s House

Award-winning dancer Chen Yungchia has been a principal dancer and one of Shen Yun’s key choreographers since he joined the company in 2007. On the evening of August 22, he returned from work at Shen Yun’s New York headquarters to his nearby home in Otisville to find that it had been ransacked. Gone were two laptops and a DVD player that looked like a computer. Not stolen, however, were an expensive watch, gold jewelry, as well as his passport and green card.

Chen believes the break-in was carried out by agents of the Chinese Communist Party, or someone hired by them, and had two purposes:

First, the robbers (or robber) were not after money but after information – most likely inside information about Shen Yun. Sensitive data might include lists of performers, especially those with PRC nationality and family back in China, or industry secrets such as Shen Yun’s special digital projection effects. They might also have been after hints of his upcoming choreography projects; PRC-based performing arts companies have been known to stage programs with themes similar to Shen Yun’s shortly after Shen Yun produces them.

Second, Chen told me he thinks the daytime break-in was also meant to send a message – we are watching you! He found his belongings strewn all over almost as if to scare him. They entered through a back window that does not face the street and also seemed to know the exact date to break in. Normally his son would have been home from school for the summer, but that particular day he was attending dance camp.

Perhaps Chen and his family were fortunate not to be home. The incident is reminiscent of a break-in that took place in 2006 in an Atlanta suburb. Dr. Peter Yuan Li, a Falun Gong practitioner and technology specialist who was part of a team working to free China’s Internet through proxy servers, was beaten in his home as Asian robbers went exclusively after his computers and documents. They left his daughter’s jewelry and camcorder, and left Dr. Li with 15 stitches.

According to the Forbes article “When All Else Fails: Threats”:

“The two first men who pushed their way into his home in the Atlanta suburb were armed with a knife and gun and spoke Korean, Li tells Forbes. But once they had taped his eyes and bound him, Li says he heard another one or two men enter his house. One of these men spoke to him in Mandarin and demanded to know where he kept his “locker” and documents. The intruders ransacked the house and forced open locked file cabinets. After the men left, Li was able to escape into the street, where a neighbor was able to help him and call the police.”


Feb 24 2013

New Wave of Email Attacks on Theaters

The Patron Manager at Denver’s Buell Theatre told local presenter Vivian Lam that the theater had been receiving emails from people posing as Falun Dafa practitioners and Shen Yun fans. At least one of Buell’s management personnel received these emails almost every day.

In a repetition of a tactic used in 2010 (New Jersey, Rhode Island, and California), the content of these emails consisted of a misrepresentation of Falun Dafa’s beliefs. The apparent motivation was to scare the theater by portraying Falun Dafa practitioners and Shen Yun fans as zealots.

No one in the Falun Dafa community is known to have sent them. The emails, though daily, were sent from different accounts each time.

The local presenter responded to the theater as follows: “I am the only contact window between the Presenter and the Theater. All of our members know about this and they are not allowed to contact you directly without my written approval.”

A few months earlier, in Ohio, staff at Cincinnati Theater received several rounds of emails similar (possibly identical, though this has not been tested as the theater did not provide copies) to the ones in received in Denver (see above).

Local presenter Dr. Sunny Lu reported the incident to the FBI, who told her the emails originated in China.


Aug 27 2012

Chinese Dancers Not Allowed to Compete in Hong Kong

Starting in 2007, the NY-based New Tang Dynasty Television has been holding the International Classical Chinese Dance Competition on a mostly annual basis. Shen Yun dancers figure prominently in these competitions and often win top prizes. Some contestants from China have been able to participate, but more often they have been blocked and even arrested.

This year, for the first time, NTD held a preliminary round in Hong Kong. Twenty-six contestants from mainland China were blocked by Beijing. They were either harassed and intimidated in China, or blocked at the border with the semi-autonomous city.

During the competition, a pro-Chinese Communist Party crowd surrounded the venue, shouting slogans and displaying banners. Witnesses described the scene as “totally crazy.”

The Chinese Communist Party has not publicly explained why it is sabotaging a traditional Chinese dance competition. It might have to do with a combination of Shen Yun’s dominance at these competitions and a fear performers will try to defect to the U.S. to join the N.Y.-based company.

For more, see:

NTD Press Release

The Epoch Times: “A Dance Competition Threatens a Regime”

Dancers Banned from Celebrating China’s Heritage


Apr 20 2012

Seattle’s King5 TV Reports

“The Chinese government has asked Seattle’s elected leaders to skip an upcoming performance by a New York-based Chinese-American dance troupe,” reports Seattle’s King5 News.

The request was made in a letter from the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco to Seattle City Council Members. According to <a href=”http://www.king5.com/news/cities/seattle/Shen-Yun-138365814.html”>King5 News</a>, the letter wrote that Shen Yun is, “an evil cult that preaches heretical fallacies and exercises extreme mental manipulation… and has for years engaged in anti-China activities in the United States.”

A copy of letter has been obtained and is available upon request.


Feb 15 2012

London Coliseum Not Intimidated

Local presenter representative and University of Reading professor Li Shao reported that the Chinese Embassy in London dispatched staff to visit the London Coliseum, where Shen Yun was scheduled to perform, in attempt to convince the theater to renege on the contract. Local presenters also said the Embassy had visited the London Coliseum the previous year as well, both before and after the Shen Yun performances, asking the theater to stop renting the venue to Shen Yun. The Coliseum rented the venue anyway and held the performances.

“I know the Chinese Communist Party tried to stop Shen Yun from performing in Romania last year,” said Member of European Parliament Gerard Batten. “It’s an absolute disgrace that they are trying to use strong arm tactics here in the UK.”

Shen Yun “is about presenting this moral point of view in a very elegant way,” said London-based China author Ethan Gutmann, “with beautiful costumes and sculpted dances and bringing people through Chinese history in a fun way. The Chinese government envies that, they want that – they’ve been looking for soft power for a long time.”

More:

The Epoch Times: Beijing’s Battle for Soft Power Playing Out in the West End


Mar 10 2011

Hong Kong Court Overturns Visa Refusal

A landmark court ruling on March 9 in Hong Kong has successfully overturned the Immigration Department’s decision to refuse entry of key members of the Shen Yun Performing Arts company last year.

The decision was an encouraging step toward ensuring cultural freedom and curbing the power of the Immigration Department, said Chairperson of Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor Chong Yiu Kwong.

“I’m happy about the court’s decision. … I feel that the court’s verdict is quite fair. It puts a limit on the discretionary power of the Immigration Department,” said Chong. “After the court’s verdict, Immigration can no longer be so reckless and unreasonably refuse others to enter Hong Kong.”

The legal case was filed by the Epoch Group—the local presenter of Shen Yun—against the director of Immigration, after he refused six members of the company entry to Hong Kong just seven days before the shows were due to commence in January 2010. The Epoch Group also publishes the Hong Kong edition of The Epoch Times.

The New York-based Shen Yun, referred to as the world’s premier classical Chinese dance company, was invited by the Epoch Group to perform seven shows at the Lyric Theatre Jan. 27–31, 2010.

Shen Yun believes the visa denial in Hong Kong was due to interference by the Chinese regime. In a Jan. 24, 2010, press release Shen Yun stated: “The Chinese communist regime has been seeking to interfere with our performances for years by trying to pressure officials and theaters to cancel our shows. We regret that the Hong Kong people are denied their right to see Shen Yun Performing Arts and understand that this incident constitutes a violation of Hong Kong people’s freedom. We hope the people of Hong Kong who treasure their freedom will urge the Hong Kong government to undo this mistake.”

Shen Yun master of ceremonies Leeshai Lemish also said that upon the cancellation of the show audience members who planned to travel to Hong Kong from mainland China had their tickets confiscated by authorities and some were even arrested.

The Hong Kong ruling, issued by Judge Andrew Cheung in the High Court of the Special Administrative Region, ordered that the director of Immigration’s decision be “quashed” on the grounds that he “failed to take into account relevant considerations.”

According to its website, Shen Yun’s mission is to revive traditional Chinese culture. It has been invited to perform at some of the world’s most prestigious venues, such as the Lincoln Center in New York, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and Palais des Congrès in Paris.

The organizers said that the performances were completely sold out within days of the public ticket release.

The sudden visa cancellation forced the organizers to refund over HK$5 million (US$642,000) to the public in lost ticket sales, said Mr. Kan.

“We were shocked by the director’s decision. The refusal to allow key production staff into Hong Kong just days before the shows was clearly a premeditated action to sabotage the show,” he said.

“We welcome the court’s decision, and we thank all the righteous support from Hong Kong and overseas, and praise the court for being able to clear the obstacles,” said Mr. Kan.

In Hong Kong there are no specific visa schedules for visiting artists or sports teams. Such groups have to apply under the so-called GEP schedule, known as General Employment Policy. The provision essentially requires the applicants to prove the necessity for “employment” and that their work cannot be performed by local experts.

While in most cases such proof is not enforced, the final decision has been left to the director of Immigration, whose powers remained largely unchallenged.

This latest court decision by Judge Andrew Cheung has created an opening for greater discretion, says To Yiu Ming, assistant professor, Department of Journalism, Hong Kong Baptist University.

“I feel that the court’s decision respected art exchanges [and] has a positive effect on cultural exchange in future,” said Mr. Ming.

“This is a testing case to see if the court is really independent,” he added.

One unique feature of the Shen Yun performances is the use of state-of-the-art technology to project digital backdrops, often synchronized with the dance performers.

The court documents from Judge Andrew Cheung cite evidence the six visa applications were denied to the staff that was specifically responsible for technical support and back stage assistance, in particular lighting, sound, and projector operations.

According to the summary of the minutes from the Immigration Department meeting provided as evidence, the director asserted, “The duties of applicant as audio engineer are of [a] general nature and the knowledge, experience, and skills required do not meet the requirement that they are not readily available in Hong Kong.”

In other words, the visa applications were refused on the grounds that the staff can be replaced by local engineers.

The reasons were refuted by the applicant’s lawyer, Mr. Paul Harris.

“The decision to refuse all production staff … ignores the simple fact that being able to operate the lighting [and] sound effects of backdrop for a stage event is not a matter of knowing how to operate them, but a matter of when to operate them,” argued Mr. Harris.

The Epoch Group plans to reinvite Shen Yun to Hong Kong as soon as possible, says Mr. Kan.

The government can appeal the court’s decision within four weeks, but some feel that will be unlikely.

“I can tell you, he may not dare to appeal after going through the verdict,” said Albert Ho, leader of the Democratic Party.

Mr. Ho believes the verdict re-established Hong Kong’s values.

“There is a bottom line, Hong Kong is still a place where rule of law is a deeply rooted tradition, that does not easily lose its function under political pressure,” he said. “This is also what’s valuable in Hong Kong.”


Feb 12 2011

新西兰官员的愤怒

新西兰国会议员Keith Locke和奥克兰议会议员Cathy Casey接到诋毁神韵艺术团的信 件 后,十分愤怒,信上警告他们不要出席神韵的演出。

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Feb 11 2011

New Zealand Officials Outraged

(中文:新西兰官员的愤怒

New Zealand Parliament Member Keith Locke and Auckland Council Member Cathy Casey are furious at Chinese letters they have received denigrating Shen Yun Performing Arts and warning them not to attend the company’s shows.

Ahead of Shen Yun’s February 3-5 performances in Auckland’s Aotea Center’s ASB Theatre, the capital’s City Council members received a letter from the consulate of the People’s Republic of China. The letter, dated December 31, 2010 and signed by Consular General Liao Juhua, concludes: “You are kindly requested to stay away from the event and thank you for reading this letter.”

While at least one City Councilor thought the letter was a joke, City Councilor Cathy Casey took exception to the letter and exposed it. She filed a formal complaint with the head of the consular corps in Auckland and also posted and subjected it to ridicule on her Facebook page.

“Nobody tells me to go or not go to a production at the Aotea Centre,” Casey said on New Zealand’s 3News. “China has its own rules. We are a democracy, we have freedom of speech, freedom of association. This breaks every rule.”

According to 3News, all 20 council members received the Consul General’s letter. Casey wants an apology. “This is breach of the partnership between council and the diplomatic corps,” she told The Epoch Times.

On January 24, Parliament Member Keith Locke of New Zealand’s Green Party received a different letter. The letter had a similar message, but was signed by 29-Auckland based Chinese organizations asking him not to attend the performance. In a press release posted on the Green Party website, Locke said he is “concerned that some Chinese organisations in Auckland may be acting in league with the Auckland consulate in this matter.”

In an interview with NTDTV, MP Locke objected to this type of foreign pressure. “It’s the sort of censorship that goes on in China, but it’s not the sort of censorship we should have here in New Zealand.”

The letter is on file and available upon request.

Note: On February 17, a “Spring Fantasy” gala, a performance supported by the Auckland Chinese consulate that also featured a speech by State Council Overseas Chinese Affairs Office Vice Director Xu Yousheng, was held at the same ASB Theatre.

(中文:新西兰官员的愤怒


Jan 29 2011

中国驻韩国领事馆推广神韵

自神韵艺术团推出了2011年亚洲巡回演出,演出团收到了中共外交官提供的免费广告。首先,中共代表对韩国釜山剧场施加压力,要求取消神韵演出。经媒体大幅度报道,昨天经过法院裁定,必须进行演出,演出一票难求。

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Jan 28 2011

Korean Chinese Consulate Promotes Shen Yun

(中文:中国驻韩国领事馆推广神韵)

As Shen Yun Performing Arts launched its 2011 tour of Asia, the company received advertising provided gratis by Chinese diplomats. First, the P.R.C mission to South Korea pressured a theater in Busan to cancel Shen Yun’s performances. Then, such a media frenzy ensued that hours after the District Court ruled that the show must go on, Shen Yun played to a sold-out house.

On January 19, Shen Yun’s International Company was scheduled to hold its 2011 Asia debut at the Busan City Cultural Center. As in previous years, the performance was to be hosted by the South Korean Falun Dafa Association.

The Association signed a valid rental contract with the Cultural Center on November 12, 2010. But on December 21, the theater sent the hosting organization a notice saying it was canceling the performance, in effect reneging on the contract. Negotiations between the two parties came to a standstill. Then, on January 16, three days before the performance, the hosting organization held a press conference, not in front of the theater, but in front of the Busan Chinese Consulate.

At the press event, the Falun Dafa Association of South Korea stated that Busan Consul General Hua Bing, Vice Consul General Jin Yanguang, as well as Seoul Embassy Cultural Affairs Officer Wang Chuan, Political Affairs Officer Chen Hai, and other consular representatives had threatened Busan City Hall and the Busan Cultural Association that allowing the Shen Yun performances would damage South Korea’s relationship with China. The Association said that the consulate had also phoned television stations and told them the performances were cancelled, instructing them to stop playing Shen Yun advertisements.

Consular officials had also contacted theaters and local government offices in Shen Yun’s next South Korean destination cities of Goyang (Aram Nuri theater) and Daegu (Suseong Artpia theater). Consular representatives asked them to cancel the rental contracts, but in both cities, the requests were spurned as local officials explained that the city has no right to annul a private contract.

This marked the fifth time since 2007 that P.R.C diplomats in Korea have sought to interfere with Shen Yun performances there. On two previous occasions, the shows indeed ended up being cancelled (see details below). But that was not to be the case this time.

On January 18, 2011, the hosting organization submitted a petition to the Busan District Court’s Second Administrative Department. The following morning, as the court was reviewing the case, Shen Yun’s artists and technical crew arrived at the Busan theater ready to set up that night’s performance. As happened in Moldova last spring, the crew was not allowed into the theater and was forced to wait outside locked doors. Around noon, the District Court’s ruling reached the theater, with the verdict that Shen Yun be allowed to perform. After a breakneck setup completed in less than half the usual time, Shen Yun performed to a full house.

Shen Yun’s three performances in Busan were sold out, and the rest of its performances in other Korean cities were full as well. Ticket sales, which were initially slow, were suddenly boosted by Korean press coverage of P.R.C diplomats trying to tell Koreans what they can and cannot watch. The fiasco led not only to outrage, but also curiosity about Shen Yun. It turns out that P.R.C officials provided Shen Yun with free, wide-scale promotion.

On the second day of performances in Busan, audience members included Chinese who made the special trip over to watch the show. One man interviewed by The Epoch Times, surname Zou, stayed to watch two performances. He said he had been a longtime fan of Shen Yun tenor Guan Guimin. “I got to hear Mr. Guan’s voice again. It was so beautiful. I used to listen to his songs when I was in China. I can’t believe that after so many years I get to hear him sing again. I’m so lucky!” Mr. Zou left the theater with multiple copies of the program to give to his family and friends back home.

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Previous documented incidents in Korea:

February 2009: Shen Yun was scheduled to perform at Universal Art Center, which is run by a religious foundation. But the Chinese Embassy in Seoul threatened the theater that if the show is not canceled, they will not issue visas for members of the Korean foundation who conduct business in China. The embassy also threatened that the foundation will risk economic loss of hundreds of millions of dollars that they invested in China if they allow the Shen Yun’s show to take place. The show was canceled, but the case was brought to court, the cancellation was overturned and the show successfully performed.

February 2008: Shen Yun shows, hosted by the Korean Epoch Times, and scheduled to be performed at Kyung Hee University’s Grand Peace Palace, are canceled. The reason given was an overlapping schedule with other university activities. But pressure from the Chinese Embassy in Seoul was evident and the case was brought to court. The hosting organization won the case and the show was performed.

February 2008: Shen Yun shows scheduled at the KBS Busan Hall (owned by the state-run KBS TV) to be hosted by the Sonata Planning Agent for Performing Arts were cancelled due to fear of diplomatic frictions with the Chinese regime. The case was brought to court, with the decision upholding the legitimacy of the show’s cancellation.

April 2007: The Keox Auditorium Hall, which belongs to the Korean government organization Trade Center, was scheduled to hold Shen Yun’s show, hosted by New Tang Dynasty Television. On March 16, NTDTV was notified of the show’s cancellation. The case was brought to court under the allegation that the show was canceled due to Chinese embassy pressure. NTDTV won the case, but the theater refused to open the doors for the show, and it ended up being canceled.

(中文:中国驻韩国领事馆推广神韵)