Jan 10 2017

Slashed Tires in Tennessee

Prior to the Shen Yun performances at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville, the tires of a car rented by staff members of Shen Yun’s hosting organization were slashed. The incident occurred between the evening of Jan. 5 and the morning of the 6. Several slashes were visible on two of the tires.

More images and report (in Chinese)

May 26 2016

Capitol Hill Panel Discussion

Two weeks after the conclusion of Shen Yun’s 2016 world tour, principal dancers Tony Xue and Rocky Liao, as well as myself, were invited to Washington, DC to speak at a panel marking 50 years since the start of the Cultural Revolution in China.
The panel, held on Capitol Hill, discussed how traditional Chinese culture has been destroyed, most notably during Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), how this culture is now being revived by Shen Yun Performing Arts, and how this renaissance could only be started outside of mainland China.

TV anchor Xiang Dong (right) moderated the panel.
Tony Xue (above) told of his journey to becoming a Shen Yun principal dancer and the fulfillment he has found reconnecting with his own heritage.
And Principal Dancer Rocky Liao (below) gave a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes trials and hardships of a professional dancer, what it takes to overcome them, and why it’s all worth it.

I gave a brief introduction to Shen Yun’s history, the incident in South Korea last month, why the Chinese Communist Party fears Shen Yun, and how it hasn’t slowed down the company.
My bottom line was that Shen Yun, and the revival of traditional culture, is not just Chinese issues. We are a U.S., New York-based company facing interference, harassment, intimidation, and direct sabotage from a foreign government and its secret operatives. It is happening in America, from big cities to small-town USA, and it is happening to us when we travel internationally as an American company overseas.
Shen Yun, as an ethnic-Chinese company based in New York, represents all that is wonderful and complex about the United States, and needs our protection and support.

May 12 2016

Video: Quick Summary of the Seoul Incident


May 11 2016

Seoul Cancels Our Shows Last-Minute

We were just wrapping up our performances in Ulsan, South Korea on May 4, 2016. Then, as we started packing for our travel to Seoul for performances there two days later, our company manager suddenly told us the performances at the prestigious KBS Hall had just been cancelled that afternoon. With a holiday weekend upon us, there was nothing we could do and no one we could speak to.

Apparently, the cancellation came  from a South Korean district court, whose judge issued an order canceling the upcoming four performances. The ruling cited threats from the Chinese embassy that Korea Broadcasting System (KBS), the owner of the theater, would incur financial losses in the Chinese market if the Shen Yun shows were allowed to go on.

The Chinese embassy had sent at least two letters to KBS Hall telling them to cancel the Shen Yun performances, saying that the shows are “anti-China.” One month prior, in April, local organizers for the Shen Yun show had taken the issue to the district court of Southern Seoul, and the judge considered the case and decided that the arguments for canceling Shen Yun did not hold and that Shen Yun should be allowed to perform.

However, two days before the shows, the same judge and same court overturned their decision and issued a reverse ruling saying that if the shows were canceled KBS would only need to compensate Shen Yun for the tickets, which number in the thousands. The court cited that if China retaliated by not allowing KBS to show their Korean dramas in China, KBS stands to lose a lot more money than Shen Yun ticket sales.

Under pressure from the Chinese regime, South Korea’s act of artistic censorship puts doubts on its judicial independence, rule of law, and democracy.

Video Report: Seoul Cancels Shen Yun Performance

Shen Yun News: Chinese Embassy Forces Seoul’s KBS Hall to Cancel Shows

The Diplomat: The Long Arm of Chinese Censorship Reaches South Korea

The Korea Times: Korea shouldn’t let China infringe on artistic freedom

US Congresswomen, Other Officials Denounce Cancellation of Shen Yun in Seoul Over Chinese Embassy Threat

Feb 6 2016

(Audio) Radio Interview With Australia’s Susie Elelman

Here’s a radio interview I did with Australia’s Susie Elelman in Australia ahead of our Sydney performances there. Susie was wonderful to talk to, and we dove into some deeper issues such as what the persecution of Falun Gong is about, how it’s represented in the performance, and some other things as well. Not bad for an interview recorded at 3am.

You can also read a transcript of the interview.


Jan 19 2016

‘There is freedom of expression in Denmark, and we intend to uphold it’

Shen Yun performed two sold-out shows at Aarhus’ Musikhuset. Prior to the performances, the Chinese embassy wrote to the theater and tried to get the performances canceled, claiming it was “extremely anti-Chinese.”

The theater director, however, dismissed the pressure, saying: “We assessed the artistic content of the performance and decided it was sufficiently high enough that we should rent out to them. There is freedom of expression in Denmark, and we intend to uphold it.”

Jul 18 2015

Opinion: ‘Chinese Ballet at Lincoln Center Glorifies the Violent Class Struggle That Killed My Great-Grandfather’

Great editorial by Leo Timm of The Epoch Times about the state-run National Ballet of China performance “The Red Detachment of Women.” This Cultural Revolution-era production appearing at Lincoln Center this summer glorified the violent class struggle of the Chinese Communist Party’s early days, which left millions killed, including the author’s grandfather, who was executed.

Read article about “The Red Detachment of Women” at Lincoln Center

Jun 30 2015

My LinkedIn Account Just Blocked in China

LinkedIn just alerted me that my account has been blocked in China. They were very transparent about it and I’ve asked them for more information.

I was trying to think of what had triggered it. I had recently updated my profile and in that update I included an article I had written in Chinese for Beijing Spring – an overseas Chinese publication. Ironically, the subject of the article was Chinese censorship and interference with overseas freedom of expression, specifically in the world of performing arts by trying (unsuccessfully) to stop performances by Shen Yun.

Here’s the Beijing Spring article

And here’s the LinkedIn message:

Hi Leeshai,
Your LinkedIn profile is an integral part of how you present your professional self to the world. That’s why we believe it’s important to inform you that, due to the presence of specific content on your profile, your profile is not currently viewable in China. This includes your public activity on LinkedIn, such as your comments and items you share with your network. Your profile and activity continues to remain viewable throughout the rest of the countries in which LinkedIn is available.
In February 2014, we began offering a localized version of LinkedIn in China. We believe that people everywhere can benefit from Chinese individuals connecting with each other and LinkedIn members in other parts of the world, and that the creation of economic opportunity can have a profound impact on their lives and the lives of their families and communities.
While we strongly support freedom of expression, we recognized when we launched that we would need to adhere to the requirements of the Chinese government in order to operate in China. We also aim to be transparent about our actions and their impact on our members; if you want to learn more about how you can ensure that your profile and activity is viewable within China, please contact Customer Support.
LinkedIn Trust & Safety

May 29 2015

Guest Post by Dancer Gary Liu: Ecuador


It was a pleasant Sunday afternoon and a couple of us dancers decided to pay a visit to the park across our hotel. We took off our shoes and began to jump around and do some flips, easily attracting the attention of passersby. A mother and her two daughters approached us—the mother pointed at a nearby building and asked “El Rey Mono?” I nodded and replied, “We’re not performing anymore.” She smiled sadly, and said, “Such a shame.”

El Rey Mono is Spanish for The Monkey King—the name of a Shen Yun dance production touring South America in 2015. Last weekend we were scheduled to perform two shows at the Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana in Quito, Ecuador. Unfortunately, due to pressure from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the theater management refused to let us perform and the shows were forcibly cancelled. So instead of warming up on stage, we were flipping on the grass behind the theater as scores of eager audience members were greeted with closed doors.

This is the second time I’ve witnessed a democratic country falling prey to the CCP’s intimidation. The first time was on February 2008 in Busan, South Korea, where our shows were suddenly cancelled—even though we were already in the country—due to pressure from the CCP. Similar antics occurred in Moldova on May 2010, when Shen Yun members who had arrived at the theatre were refused entry because the theater director had received threats from the Chinese Embassy.

But why is the CCP so intent on blocking our show? Most people would probably find it nonsensical and absurd. First, Shen Yun presents genuine traditional Chinese culture through world-class performances and has received critical acclaim around the world. Second, our particular show is a new dance production based on the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West. It is one of the four classics of Chinese literature and possibly the most popular novel of all time in the East.

Moreover, we had just completed shows in Mexico and Colombia, and the audience response was overwhelmingly enthusiastic. Not only did they thoroughly enjoy the adventures of Tang Monk and his three eccentric disciples, but they could also understand the deeper meanings, wisdom, and values being portrayed.

However, instead of supporting our efforts to promote Chinese culture internationally, the CCP threatens the countries that are planning to host Shen Yun performances. This is because the CCP promotes Chinese culture on the surface, while in reality it is systematically destroying it from its roots. (More details on this can be found here)

Personally, I find the situation saddening—not only because we were unable to perform, but more importantly because a democratic, independent country allowed itself to be controlled by a communist dictatorship. It is really a loss for everybody, including the Ecuadorian people, since they’ve been barred from getting to know true Chinese culture.

On our last day in Quito we visited the Old Town, where we encountered crowds of locals gathered at the main plaza as soldiers and government officials paraded down the narrow, congested streets. It was their national holiday—a day marking a historic battle fought against the Spanish that led to the country’s independence. I hope that they will truly exercise their independence and liberate themselves from the Chinese Communist Party, too.

May 27 2015

No Monkey King in Ecuador

Shen Yun’s production The Monkey King was scheduled to perform in Ecuador as part of its 2015 tour of South America. But a week before the performances, the Ecuadorian House of Culture officially cancelled the shows at the National Theatre. Local presenters cited month-long pressure from the Chinese Embassy to Ecuador as the cause for the sudden, last-minute cancelation.

“We have tried telling them in every possible way that they are violating the freedom of expression of the Ecuadorian people, that they are censoring culture in a democratic country and are doing so through a foreign country,” said Alejandro Nadal, a representative of the Falun Dafa Association of Ecuador, the performance’s presenter in Quito.

Read blog by Shen Yun dancer Gary Liu who had traveled to Ecuador with the production expecting to perform. (link)