Chinese “evil cult” propaganda in our Canadian mailbox

As soon as I saw this in our mailbox today, it reminded me of something I’d read in the news a couple years ago. A certain religious group in China, famous for being brutally persecuted by the gov’t in the late 90’s, was apparently squandering Western public sympathy by selling tickets to Chinese cultural stage performances that contained explicit (but unadvertised) political and spiritual messages. This was making some Euro-Americans feel deceived. People felt ripped off that they’d come for a family show and got explicit politicking and proselytizing.

I didn’t know if this was them or not. My suspicious were heightened when I read the vague but very spiritual introduction section and this statement:

A performance like Shen Yun can no longer be found in China today because many of China’s best artistic traditions have been lost in recent decades.

The last page confirmed my guess. Turns out the performance advertised in the pamphlet (not mailed but hand-delivered to our door by an elderly Chinese man) is put on by the “evil cult” at the top of the Chinese government’s hit list — one of the largest, most viciously persecuted Chinese religious groups in the last fifteen years. There were propaganda posters in our neighbourhood in Tianjin denouncing them (see here for images and translations), and you have to walk past their demonstration to get into the Chinese consulate in Vancouver. To avoid tempting China’s net nanny I won’t write their name here, but here’s a picture:

I don’t blame them for presenting their religion and protest message through art and entertainment like they do. We Westerners are, after all, well-accustomed to ideological propaganda in our entertainment; that — and money — is what our entertainment is all about. But it takes a little more nuance and subtly to do this effectively to a Western audience, as evidenced by the negative reactions they’ve provoked (here’s an example). Who knows, maybe this go around they’ve tailored their message a little better.

Anyway, it’s interesting to find yet another example of China popping up in the daily life of Canadians. For more about this particular “evil cult”, see:

P.S. – “Shén​ Yùn” refers to charm or grace in art and poetry. Literally it is “God/spirit/divine” (神) + “beautiful sound/charm/appeal” (韵). Here are some different dictionary entries.

7 thoughts on “Chinese “evil cult” propaganda in our Canadian mailbox”

  1. I saw this show about a year ago in Honolulu and found the statement

    “A performance like Shen Yun can no longer be found in China today because many of China’s best artistic traditions have been lost in recent decades.”

    compeltely bizarre. I had just seen shows exactly like this, better really, in China, except for the parts that were a little like revolutionary opera (the oppression parts).

  2. This is no different from the subtle propaganda you will find coming out of the PRC-sponsored “Confucius Institutes” or movies or the China Daily that is distributed free in Canada by the PRC government. What’s the diff?

  3. [*That group] is sponsored by the ned which is used to subvert and overthrow governments around the world. the purpose behind the overthrow is an imperialistic one that is motivated by western business interests. in order to understand the cult, you must understand its funding.

    [*Edited by Joel to remove sensitive terms.]

  4. -it’s interesting to find yet another example of China popping up in the daily life of Canadians.-

    Yes I’m an immigrant from Japan and I’m so surprised by how much Chinese influence there is in Canada – and I feel this in Toronto so must be a lot more in BC…

  5. And just yesterday, I noticed a big front page ad on one of our newspapers for the 2012 performance here in Honolulu. Needless to say I’m saving my money for a trip back to the Middle Kingdom.

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