Lin Feng | Epoch Times
NEW YORK—Every year a wide variety of community groups ring in the Chinese New Year at a parade in Flushing, Queens where there is a large Chinese community.
The NYPD band kicked off the parade, which included local officials, community leaders, and 50 floats, totaling over 10,000 people.
Unusual Maneuvering Behind the Scenes
Just as different groups were preparing for the start of the parade, a registered group decided to drop out at the last minute, while another group recruited people to participate by treating them to dinner.
All of the last minute changes centered around one issue: the participation of the Falun Gong meditation group.
Falun Gong is self-cultivation practice based on the universal principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. After its introduction to the public in China by teacher Li Hongzhi in 1992, Falun Gong spread widely due to its health benefits and free teaching.
Later, its widespread popularity among all classes of Chinese society made the Chinese regime uncomfortable, and it launched a systematic persecution to force adherents to give up their beliefs.
In an effort to convince ordinary Chinese citizens to support the regime’s actions, which involved the torture to death of thousands of practitioners and arbitrary detention and torture of hundreds of thousands more, the Chinese regime used its state-run media to lead a vicious propaganda onslaught to vilify practitioners.
Through investigation and talking to the participants, Epoch Times reporters discovered the reason for the odd behavior of some of the Chinese groups at New York’s community parade.
It could be explained by the actions of a few individuals taking advantage of local Chinese to curry favor with the Chinese regime by extending the harassment of Falun Gong overseas.
‘Anti-Cult’ Group Slanders Falun Gong
A group with close ties to the Chinese regime, called the Chinese Anti-Cult World Alliance, ostentatiously took part in the parade. They shouted slogans and cursed Falun Gong with Beijing accents. They also passed out flyers that slandered Falun Gong.
The Alliance acted contrary to the spirit of the annual parade, which is meant for demonstrating harmony among different communities in Flushing.
During the parade, bystanders reacted coldly towards the Chinese Anti-Cult World Alliance, and very positively towards the colorful Falun Gong entry.
Who were the people taking part in the Alliance? It began in December last year, when Zhang Qiyue replaced Sun Guoxiang as the new Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in New York.
Cancellation of the Yangko Dance Performance
Yangko is a Chinese folk dance created by rice farmers hundreds of years ago that features colorful costumes and exuberant body movements.
Registration for the New Year Parade in Flushing began in December last year, but before the parade, the host announced that the New York Association would be joining the Flushing Parade for the first time, with 300 people participating, and at the same time, they would bring a surprising performance, the Yangko dance.
However, just two days before parade day, the New York association informed its members through Weixin, a Chinese language instant messaging service, that the group would not be joining the parade on Feb. 21.
As for the reason, it had become known to the dance group organizers that Falun Gong’s parade entry would have over 500 people, with an impressive showing of dancers, Chinese lions, and costumes. What’s more, all the other groups combined would not total as many. If the New York Association were to take part in the parade, they decided it would be equivalent to “supporting Falun Gong.”
Many members of the New York Association, in preparation for the Yangko dance, had put a lot of time and effort into the rehearsal, and spent money buying their costumes. So the news of the cancellation upset many participants.
Some of the Weixin messages from upset participants were as follows:
“We could have participated with glamor, but the decision made by a few people abruptly canceled the performance without any prior warning.”
“The Flushing parade was not affected at all after we, the members of the New York Association, decided to quit in a sort of suicidal manner. It is us who quit. It is us who have wasted our months of effort and hard work. Most of the members that will perform Yangko dance live in Queens. So, Flushing is like our home. Even the most stupid people wouldn’t pull something like this.”
“There isn’t an ounce of correlation between participation by the two groups, Falun Gong and the New York Association. Last year, NYPD took part, so did the mayor. Were they also there to support Falun Gong?”
Manipulation by the Chinese Consulate
A deputy director with the New York Association explained to fellow members through Weixin, saying: “Many of you do not know, and this is something I’ve just learned, this year, the Flushing Parade has been defined as a stage set up by the Flushing Chinese Business Association and a performance stage specifically for Falun Gong.”
To the question of who made such a conclusion, he continued: “the consul general knows exactly how everyone feels. Arrangements are being made for us to participate in the parade in Chinatown. Consul General Zhang Qiyue will also take part.”
The Association sent out a letter, warning its members who really wanted to participate in the parade, saying, “If anyone insists on participating in the Flushing parade, it is an individual decision and it has nothing to do with the Association. And whoever does take part must be responsible for his or her own action.”
However, many expatriates were unhappy about how the Chinese Consulate pressured the parade host by saying they would quit the parade as a group. On the day of the parade, many expatriates nonetheless took part as individuals.
Back in 2003, the current Consul General Zhang Qiyue, acting as the spokeswoman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, slandered Falun Dafa at a press conference.
And in 2001, Falun Gong practitioners once questioned Zhang at a press conference, saying how the persecution of Falun Gong by the Chinese regime had seriously affected the normal lives of overseas practitioners. Zhang did not respond, and quickly left.
‘Challenging’ Falun Gong
As members of the New York Association decided not to participate in the Flushing parade, someone else was encouraging them to join up with Li Huahong, a leader of the local hate campaign against Falun Gong, and Zhu Lichuang, an anti-Falun Gong activist.
The two were busy using Weixin to recruit people to participate in the parade to “challenge Falun Gong,” promising that after the parade, participants would be treated to a feast at a Chinese restaurant in Flushing “with alcohol, singing, and raffle draws.”
Reliable sources have exposed that Zhu was busy recruiting people a day before the parade, thinking that he could have a group of about 300 to 400 people carrying “Anti-Cult Federation” banners.
He asked participants to dress normally, and when they arrived at the gathering site, they would all be given jackets as a uniform. After the parade, participants would be treated to food and drinks at a hotel, and if there were too many people, they would be given red envelopes (traditionally filled with money) instead.
The Group of Red Vests
On parade day, Li and Zhu arrived with four large bags of red vests. One young person who received a red vest told Epoch Times that he didn’t belong to any anti-cult group; rather he is simply a neighborhood watch member in Flushing.
Zhu actually formed the neighborhood watch team in May 2010.
According to a report by The New York Times Style Magazine in November 2013, every night, about 10 volunteers wearing cream-colored vests patrolled the streets with whistles. Any suspicious activity they saw would be reported to local police.
But on the day of the Flushing parade, many of these neighborhood watch members were asked to wear red vests, making them look like members of the Chinese Anti-Cult World Alliance.
One person wearing a rest vest said that a lot of the younger members of the neighborhood watch team had refused to come, that only the more senior ones were willing to come.
“We are going to a dinner together later and it is hosted by the Global Anti-Cult Federation. This red vest is our ticket to join the dinner. Besides having dinner, there will be other activities. These are all secrets,” said the young man.
Marching Band with Ties to the Chinese Consulate
A marching band member, who also wore a red vest, revealed that the band had ties to the Chinese regime and the Chinese Consulate.
“We come from the Chinese Consulate,” said the member.
“When Chinese leaders come here, it is us who welcome them. There are two marching band, one is in Beijing, and the other one is here in the United States, the Huasheng Marching Band.”
“We also make additional income by taking on different jobs. However, the parade today is unique in nature, and there is a sizable cut in our earnings,” said the member.
“Usually, we make about $150 dollars for a single performance. However today, each of us only gets about $110 dollars for participating in this parade,” he said.
Ticket for a Free Meal
It is easy for Zhu to recruit people. Whoever is willing to go, regardless of his or her identity and purpose, is treated to free drinks, food, and/or a red envelope. Once the parade is over, when a participant returns the red vest to Zhu and Li, he or she gets a meal voucher.
Tens of thousands of dollars were spent by the China Anti-Falun Gong Federation to organize the parade. As for the source of this money, the answer could only come from Zhu, who works for China’s United Front Work Department, an agency that engages in propaganda overseas.
After the arrest of former United Front Work Department head Ling Jihua, the newly appointed head Sun Chunlan was also found to be behind the cruel persecution of Falun Gong in Liaoning Province in northeast China, and its southern city, Dalian.
Now, one of Sun’s tasks is to organize overseas Chinese groups and student unions to enforce the regime’s policy of persecuting Falun Gong.
Embarrassment of the Former Consul General in New York
On May 17, 2008, about a dozen mobsters who had attacked Falun Gong practitioners for weeks in Flushing, were arrested by the New York Police Department.
On Feb. 22, 2008, Epoch Times received an audio recording from the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong of Peng Keyu, who was Consul General of New York at the time, admitting he met and encouraged people involved in the attack of volunteers working at the Tuidang Service Center in Flushing. Tuidang is a movement that encourages people to withdraw from the Chinese Communist Party, according to the group’s website.
“They came over after they fought with Falun Gong and I shook hands with them one by one and thanked them,” stated Peng in the recording.
Epoch Times later learned that the mastermind behind the attack in Flushing was Zhou Yongkang, the former security czar in China, and the person who executed the plan was Peng Keyu.