Shen Yun Briefs Capitol Hill Audience on Interference

Chinese regime implicated in ongoing attempts to stop show

By Gary Feuerberg
Epoch Times Staff Created: Jul 2, 2010 Last Updated: Jul 3, 2010
Mei Xuan tells how she waited in vain at a N.J. airport for her husbands appearance

Mei Xuan tells how she waited in vain at a N.J. airport for her husband to arrive. (Gary Feuerberg/ The Epoch Times)

WASHINGTON—During Shen Yun’s 2009-2010 world tour, the New York-based performing arts company endured various actions aimed at stopping its performances. On Wednesday, Shen Yun performers and sponsors of Shen Yun shows came to the Longworth House office building on Capitol Hill to tell congressional staff and the press about the ongoing campaign of interference directed by the Chinese communist regime.

“[Chinese regime] diplomats threatened theaters, told them to ignore their [Shen Yun] contracts, and even harassed patrons not to attend shows,” said Mr. Xiang Dong. Mr. Xiang hosted the briefing and also represented the Washington, D.C., Falun Dafa Association, which sponsored several shows by Shen Yun in D.C.

Mr. Xiang added that the tires of the Shen Yun tour buses have been damaged a few times and family members of Shen Yun performers residing in Mainland China have been detained and harassed.

In Ottawa on Jan. 13 the driver of a Shen Yun tour bus discovered damage to one of the front tires. Police said two three to four-inch-long cuts deep into the tire had apparently been made by a craft knife. If undiscovered, the damage to the tire could have caused a blowout at high speed on the highway.

In Phoenix the previous year, the tire of a Shen Yun tour bus did blow out on the highway. On inspection, the tire was discovered to have had a hole drilled into it.

Dong Xiang described a coordinated pattern of interference and harassment in the U.S. and in the world by the Peoples Republic of China.

Dong Xiang described a coordinated pattern of interference and harassment in the U.S. and in the world by the Peoples Republic of China. (Gary Feuerberg/ The Epoch Times)

Pressuring governments and theaters

The interference by the Chinese regime has not stopped the exponential rise in the number of shows, Mr. Xiang said. Shen Yun debuted in 2006-7 with 26 shows; the next season there were 90 shows, followed by 218 in the 2008-9 season. This year, Shen Yun will tour in over 100 cities, with over 300 shows, on five continents.

The most common form of interference involves letters and phone calls from Chinese consular officials asking local government officials not to support or see the show and asking theaters not to host the show.

In the United States, local government officials and theaters have generally brushed off such requests. In Eastern Europe, however, the pressure is greater, and “there is more room for manipulation” in the former communist countries, said Leeshai Lemish, one of the master of ceremonies for Shen Yun Performing Arts.

Mr. Lemish said the efforts to cancel the shows in eastern European countries need to be understood in a broader context. He said Shen Yun has experienced full houses, celebrities and VIPs at the shows, and very few cancellations.

Mr. Lemish described the cancellation of two scheduled shows his company was scheduled to perform at Chisinau, Moldova—a country, Lemish said, whose government is divided and where the communist party ruled not long ago.

When the company arrived at the theater at 8 a.m., May 25 to set up, they were not allowed in. Half an hour later, the theater director arrived at the theater, and refused to allow the performers in or to meet with the company director to explain the lockout.

Lemish surmised what probably motivated the theater director, who had vowed earlier that she would resist Chinese embassy pressure. First, a Moldovan government official revealed that the theater director received “daily” visits from the Chinese embassy.

Second, a Moldovan Foreign Ministry official met with the theater director and said it was the ministry’s position that the show be canceled.

Finally, the theater director was in possession of a letter from the Moldovan Ministry of Culture saying it recommended the show be canceled.

Leeshai Lemish explains how the Chinese embassy pressures theater managers in Eastern Europe.

Leeshai Lemish explains how the Chinese embassy pressures theater managers in Eastern Europe. (Gary Feuerberg/ The Epoch Times)

Both the Moldovan Minister of Culture and the theater director said to the president of the Moldovan Falun Dafa Association, the sponsor of the show, that the Chinese ambassador told them Moldova would face financial repercussions if the show was not canceled.

Last July, the Chinese regime promised the Moldovan government a US$1 billion dollar loan, Lemish said, citing a Reuters article. This was money that the European Union would not loan to Moldova, Lemish said. “The theater director was caught between the financial pressure from the PRC [People’s Republic of China] and the fact that she had a contract and a conscience, and the performing company was ready to go,” Lemish said.

“On both days that the show was scheduled to perform, Moldovan television reported on the show’s cancellation and the frustration of audience members, who protested outside the theater entrance. Some audience members had traveled from as far as Russia and Belarus, over 30 hours by train,” said Lemish.

Fraudulent emails

Shen Yun has been interfered with by the Chinese regime since its first performance, but this year’s tour saw a new wrinkle in the attempts to stop the show.

Emails written by individuals impersonating Falun Gong practitioners have been sent to theater managers. This email campaign may be more insidious than previous acts of interference because it attempts to harm Shen Yun by confusing the theater management.

“The emails portray Falun Gong practitioners and the hosting Falun Dafa association as zealots, for example, by warning the theater that if it does not fully support the show, they will incur punishment and misfortune. Apparently, the aim is to cause the theater to question the integrity of the show and the hosting organization, and, ultimately, cancel the show,” said Mr. Xiang.

Ms. Nelly Au of the New Jersey Falun Dafa Association spoke about the emails received by the New Brunswick State Theater in New Jersey.

Ms. Nelly Au told of emails to the president and CEO of the New Brunswick State Theatre by persons posing as zealous Falun Gong practitioners.

Ms. Nelly Au told of emails to the president and CEO of the New Brunswick State Theatre by persons posing as zealous Falun Gong practitioners. (Lisa Fan/ The Epoch Times)

The theater’s director of operations wrote Ms. Au that they were getting “a bunch of emails.” He requested Ms. Au to “please have your constituency stop sending us these emails. I would hate this to have a negative impact on your future usage here.”

Ms. Au says she later learned that theaters in Rhode Island, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, and Newark received similar emails.

Mr. Lemish pointed out that sometimes the letters sent to different cities in the U.S. were the same, proving a conspiracy to defraud.

Each of the local Falun Dafa associations where the fraudulent letters were discovered had reported the problem to the FBI and the Congress member in their district, said Mr. Xiang.

Harassment of family members

Mei Xuan, which is her stage name, plays the erhu—a two-stringed traditional Chinese instrument. She said that on Feb. 18, she was waiting with flowers and a camera in hand at the Newark, N.J. airport, feeling “extremely happy” that after many years of forced separation, she would be reunited with her husband, Jiang Feng.

In their 11 years of marriage, they had spent only a few months together, due to the Chinese regime’s persecution of Falun Gong. Both are Falun Gong practitioners. He was sentenced to 3 years in prison for practicing Falun Gong and she was sentenced to 4 years in prison a few days before his sentence ended. On her release, she fled to the United States in 2006.

Both have been tortured. She was subjected to severe beatings, sleep deprivation, and long hours of forced labor.

Jiang was not on the Shanghai flight though he had passed through the security checkpoint. He disappeared and a disappointed Mei Xuan could only guess the worst had happened and that public security officials had taken him away.

Other members of her family have been harassed. “The police visited my sister’s business and my brother’s office many times, asking them to pressure me to leave Shen Yun,” she told The Epoch Times in a Feb. 22 interview.

Not long after her husband’s disappearance, she left with Shen Yun for a tour in Europe. There, she contacted the European Parliament, which made inquiries of the Chinese ambassador, who confirmed that Jiang had been seized by public security officials and that he was sentenced to 18 months in a forced labor camp.

Mr. Lemish pointed out that she had never received official notice of where Jiang was. Instead, the first word of Jiang’s whereabouts came through the European Parliament nearly three months after his disappearance. Friends told Mei Xuan the location of the labor camp was in Hefei in Anhui province. In this camp, prisoners work in a coal mine as de facto slaves, said Mr. Lemish.

Mei Xuan said that when in Europe, people were always asking her, “What is the United States government doing about this?”

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