Falun Gong

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Falun Gong (alternatively Falun Dafa) is a system of beliefs and practices founded in China by Li Hongzhi in 1992. It emerged at the end of China's "qigong boom", a period of growth and popularity of similar practices. Falun Gong differs from other qigong schools in its absence of daily rituals of worship,[1] its greater emphasis on morality, and the theological nature of its teachings.[2][3] Western academics have described Falun Gong as a "spiritual movement" based on the teachings of its founder,[4] a "cultivation system" in the tradition of Chinese antiquity,[5] and sometimes a new religious movement (NRM). Falun Gong places a heavy emphasis on morality in its central tenets – Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance (Chinese: 真、善、忍).[6] Its teachings include concepts from qigong, Buddhist and Taoist traditions.[5][7][8][9]

The movement grew rapidly in China between 1992 and 1999. Government sources indicated that there may have been as many as 70 million Falun Gong practitioners in the country by 1998.[10] In the mid-1990s the proliferation of qigong practices generated attention from Chinese journalists, skeptics, and scientists; reports critical of qigong appeared in the Chinese media, some of which were aimed at Falun Gong.[1][11][12] Falun Gong practitioners responded to critics through peaceful protests, attempting to address perceived unfair media treatment.[11] In April 1999, after one such protest in Tianjin which ended with beatings and arrests, some 10,000 practitioners gathered at Zhongnanhai, the residence compound of China's leaders, in silent protest, while representatives reportedly negotiated with CCP officials. Their main request was "the assurance of a proper and lawful environment to pursue Falun Gong cultivation."[13][14][15][16]

In July 1999, the Chinese government, under the Communist Party of China (CPC), banned Falun Gong and began a nationwide crackdown and multifaceted propaganda campaign against the practice; in October 1999 it declared Falun Gong a "heretical organization."[7][17][18] Human rights groups report that Falun Gong practitioners in China are subject to a wide range of human rights abuses.[19] Falun Gong practitioners continue to levy charges against the CPC, lobbying Western governments and handing out information about the ill-treatment of practitioners, highlighting arbitrary arrests and imprisonment, organ harvesting, forced labor, and torture at the hands of the Chinese security forces.[20][21][22] Falun Gong practitioners have founded media outlets (the Epoch Times and New Tang Dynasty Television) that publicize their cause and criticize the CPC, and the group has emerged as a prominent voice opposing the Party's rule in China.[23]

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