Defamatory passages about religion have made their way into Chinese textbooks sold in the United States, new research finds, bringing the Chinese government’s ultra-leftist persecution of religion to American campuses.
An investigation showed that at least ten schools, including Brown, Yale, Michigan, Chicago, and Wellesley, employ Chinese language course materials that spread false information about the Falun Gong religion and practice. The CCP’s propaganda effort targets Falun Gong by portraying the group as a “cult” and circulating misleading information to create unwarranted concerns about its potential for violence.
According to the study, the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA), which has links to the consulate, was implicated in six of the nine incidents when Falun Gong events were disrupted on university campuses. Beijing uses CSSAs as part of its abroad influence efforts, including stifling dissident movements, collecting intelligence, and easing China’s access to U.S. technology.
The Falun Dafa group at Penn staged a showing of “In the Name of Confucius,” a documentary about a similar incident at another university. The then-president of the Falun Gong group experienced continuous stress and anxiety due to the internet harassment campaign and pressure put on the institution by the CSSA to punish the Falun Gong group. According to Freedom House’s senior China expert Sarah Cook, universities should start planning for this situation now. Falun Gong practitioners are “afraid of stigma” and “negative reactions” from Chinese students and staff, according to a poll conducted by the Falun Dafa Information Center.
One in five people who filled out the poll reported being embarrassed to call themselves Falun Gong practitioners or discuss the practice in the classroom. Furthermore, followers of Falun Gong often face online abuse and social media posts designed to discourage them from attending activities.