China: Current situation of Qi Gong (Qigong) masters and practitioners in China; whether Hui Ling Qigong masters and practitioners had been targeted by government officials (2000 - present)
|Publisher||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||30 November 2001|
|Citation / Document Symbol||CHN38165.E|
|Cite as||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, China: Current situation of Qi Gong (Qigong) masters and practitioners in China; whether Hui Ling Qigong masters and practitioners had been targeted by government officials (2000 - present), 30 November 2001, CHN38165.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3df4be1e20.html [accessed 26 January 2015]|
Revising and replacing the "Administrative Methods on Qigong" issued by the former State Physical Culture and Sports Commission (SPCSC) in 1998, the State General Administration of Sport (SGAS) was reported to have issued a new document entitled the "Provisional Administrative Methods on Qigong" (People's Daily 19 Sept. 2000).
While Qigong is recognized as a traditional Chinese sport and form of cultural expression, the SGAS stated that Qigong has in recent years been used to make illegal profits and spread superstitious ideas, and, that, as a result, the authorities are determined to crack down on these "harmful activities" and encourage healthy Qigong practices (ibid.).
Under the new document, local government departments in charge of physical culture and sports have been granted responsibility for administering and organizing Qigong activities (ibid.).
The new rules, issued in September 2000, also stipulate specific regulations regarding the establishment of "Qigong-practicing stations" (ibid.), strictly limiting their size and requiring that activities with more than 200 participants request police permission (AP 15 Sept. 2000). Qigong groups are also required to be dispersed, locally organized, and all Qigong coaches or teachers must undergo strict training and examination (People's Daily 19 Sept. 2000) and must be registered and certified with sports officials (AP 15 Sept. 2000).
According to an Associated Press report, the new rules prohibit Qigong exercise groups from preaching religion and prohibit Qigong groups from propagating "ignorant superstition" or "deifying individuals" (15 Sept. 2000).
A 6 June 2001 article reported that the Qigong Administration Center, established on 30 April 2001 under the State General Sports Administration, had been put into service on 5 June 2001 (People's Daily). According to the article, the new Center, while conforming to State laws and regulations, is to organize and administer Qigong activities, "bringing it into the standard, scientific and legal path" (ibid.).
According to a research fellow with the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) in Amsterdam who has conducted extensive fieldwork and published several articles on Qigong groups in China, the government crackdown on Falun Gong was followed by a crackdown on other Qigong groups, particularly Zhonggong (Zhong Gong) and Xianggong (Xian Gong) groups (30 Nov. 2001). These two movements were related to Falun Gong through Qigong networks and associations (such as the official Chinese National Association of Qigong based in Beijing), from which Li Hongzhi and his organization were excluded before the 1999 crackdown (ibid.).
The research fellow stated that "there is a general understandable fear which spread out among masters and practioners of all qigong groups because they never know which group will be the next target" (ibid.). The research fellow further stated that official harrassment did not begin in 1999 and government policies pertaining to Qigong have been contradictory since the 1960s: at times encouraging the development of Qigong groups and at other times targetting them if their success became too pronounced or if they included as members people who were part of, or too close to, the political elite (ibid.). The research fellow conlcudes that it is difficult to tell to what extent particular Qigong groups are more targeted now than before 1999 (ibid.).
According to an Amnesty International report, the Chinese government's "crackdown" on "heretical organizations," which began in 1998 in the context of an "anti-superstition" campaign, has been extended to a number of Qigong organizations (23 Mar. 2000). The report states that "several [Qigong] groups have been targeted by the authorities and their leaders detained, sentenced or placed under surveillance" (ibid.). The three groups specified as having been targeted were: Guo Gong (Nation Gong); Cibei Gong (Compassion Gong); and Zhong Gong (China Gong) (ibid.).
With an estimated 10-million followers in over 20 provinces, Chinese authorities have, reportedly, become alarmed by Zhong Gong's size, its organization and its large financial assets (VOA 31 Jan 2000). According to a Voice of America article, authorities had shut down over 100 Zhong Gong study centres (ibid.; The Tribune 1 Feb. 2000) and confiscated over six million US dollars in assets (VOA 31 Jan. 2000).
Reportedly, Chen Jinlong who was responsible for Zhong Gong's Zhejiang training station was sentenced to two years imprisonment in mid-January 2000, purportedly for attempting to heal patients without medical qualifications (ibid.). As well, a 31 July 2000 article reported that Zhang Hongbao, the founder of Zhong Gong, was in Guam requesting asylum from the United States (The New York Times). Reportedly, Hongbao had arrived in Guam in February 2000 without a visa and facing criminal charges, including allegations of rape, in China (ibid.).
News reports also detail the conviction of the leader of the Qigong group Human Body Science more than a year after his arrest (DPA 18 Sept. 2001; Hong Kong iMail 20 Sept. 2001). According to reports, Shen Chang was arrested for "using an evil cult to breach the law," but was finally prosecuted for tax evasion and illegal business practices (ibid.). The Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in China was reported as stating that a 50-member special team that had investigated Chang's case had concluded that, as his teachings contained "many anti-scientific ingredients," he was as dangerous as the founder of Falun Gong (Hong Kong iMail 20 Sept. 2001).
No information on whether Hui Ling Qigong masters and practitioners have been targeted by government officials could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Amnesty International (AI). 23 March 2000. (ASA 17/011/2000). "People's Republic of China: The Crackdown on Falun Gong and Other So-Called 'Heritical Organizations'"
Associated Press (AP). 15 September 2000. "New Rules in China Target Sect." (Beliefnet)
Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA). 18 September 2001. "China Jails Qi Gong Leader for 12 Years." (NEXIS)
Hong Kong iMail. 20 September 2001. Pamela Pun. "Qigong Master Given 12 years in Tax Case."
The New York Times. 31 July 2000. Craig S. Smith. "Asylum Plea by Chinese Sect's Leader Perplexes the U.S." (NEXIS)
The People's Daily. 6 June 2001. "Qigong Administration Center Set Up."
_____. 19 September 2000. "China Issues New Rules on Practicing Qigong."
Research Fellow, International Institue for Asian Studies, Amsterdam. 30 November 2001. Correspondence.
The Tribune [Chandirgarh]. 1 February 2000. "China Closes Down 'Cult' Offices." (NEXIS)
Voice of America (VOA). 31 January 2000. Stephanie Ho. "China -Exercise Group." (Federation of American Scientists)
Additional Sources Consulted
Unsuccessful attempts to contact Inner Mongolia People's Party
Unsuccessful attempts to contact one academic source
Internet sites including:
China Internet and Information Center
Human Rights in China
Human Rights Watch
World News Connection