Falun Gong and information on Asia

7 Sep
I recently received an e-mail msg. containing links to a series of articles (some of which are historical in nature) critical of the Chinese Communist Party. For those interested the main link was:

http://english.epochtimes.com/category.asp?topicid=92.

I am interested in whether the e-mail I received represents an individual initiative, or whether it was part of a more coordinated campaign to publicize the series to academics at other institutions. Have others received similar messages?
The newspaper/website that these articles came out in is called The Epoch Times in English (Chinese: Da Ji Yuan). It describes itself as a New York-based, privately operated “independent voice” whose strength is the coverage of China. I believe it is widely understood to be a Falun Gong organ. Can anyone comment on the degree to which this association affects the reliability of and/or nature of the bias of information published there?

I have my general opinion about this, but I am interested in specific cases of bias or accuracy.

After some very cursory web-checking on the Epoch Times, I noted that its articles on China are increasingly picked up by English-language “mainstream” media. For example, the web-sites of CNN, Bloomberg, the Economist and Radio Free Asia all have carried articles first published there. To the degree that there is a Falun Gong slant to such information, it would appear that operating the Epoch Times has proved a savvy investment. Clearly they are getting their message out.
I also found indications that the Falun Gong maintains several other organizations involved in generating and mediating knowledge about Asia. One is called the Association for Asian Research (AFAR), and one is called the Washington China Review. The first seems targeted at academics and the second at Washington lobbying. Ownership in both cases is somewhat obscure, but again my impression is that they are Falun Gong organs. If I am wrong about this, or anyone can shed further light on these organizations, please inform the list.

I don’t suggest that all information associated with organizations operated by the Falun Gong should be automatically dismissed as polemical, but I do think that all scholars should at least be aware of such connections and should approach such information critically. I am furthermore interested in what others think of this phenomenon. After all, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon of the Unification Church established the Washington Times, and (at least in some circles) it is accepted as a legitimate and reliable news organ.

Should the Falun Gong organs be seen in a similar light, or is there something that distinguishes their approach to the production of knowledge about Asia?

Richard Belsky
Department of History
Hunter College of the
City University of New York
rbelsky@hunter.cuny.edu

text from: http://www.facts.org.cn/Views/201007/t114752.htm

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