Guerilla Broadcasting in Communist China: Remembering The ‘Airwave Six’
On March 5, 2002, six concerned Chinese citizens from Changchun city successfully intercepted the state-controlled cable television to broadcast the true story about the communist regime’s persecution of Falun Gong. Falun Gong is a peaceful meditation based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.
The 50-minute program exposed the fact that state propaganda hired actors to impersonate Falun Gong practitioners. Acting under state orders, these actors set themselves on fire in Tiananmen Square, an act which was immediately filmed and publicized to suggest that Falun Gong is dangerous and that the regime is justified in using torture to “reeducate” its believers.
The broadcast became known among the Chinese authorities as the “305 case,” so named for the March 5th date. The details of that event are described in the book “The Slaughter” by investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann.
As a consequence of their bravery, the “Airwave 6” suffered the same persecution they helped to expose. Their names were Lei “Little Brother” Ming, Liu “Great Sea” Haibo, Liu “Big Truck” Chengjun, Hou “The Monkey” Mingkai, Ms. Zhou “The Cook” Runjun, and Liang Zhenxing. They are all now deceased.
Lei Ming was tortured and released with with spinal injuries which lead to his death. Liu Haibo was tortured to death in custody. Liu Chengjun died of injuries while imprisoned. Hou Mingkai was arrested and beaten to death within hours of arrest. Zhou Runjun was sentenced to 20 years but she is believed to be dead. Liang Zhenxing died on May 1, 2010 after enduring 8 years of imprisonment and torture.
Their deeds and deaths are a testament both to the iron fist of the Chinese communist state and the Chinese people’s thirst for access to truthful information. Their example inspired other activists to continue to spread the truth of the persecution via means available to them, though they run significant risks to personal safety in doing so. Similar broadcasts were pulled off in various local media following this undertaking.
Falun Gong practitioners in China and abroad, in their efforts to circumvent the Chinese firewall, have created some of the most effective technology solutions to the problem of censorship. The 305 broadcast came at a time when Falun Gong practitioners had little voice against the overwhelming volume of state propaganda, and their feat awakened many Chinese people who were fortunate to see or hear about the broadcast.
To read more about the Airwave 6 and the implications of their work, click here.