Censoring China's True Culture
Part Two in a Series
South Koreans were shocked to learn on Jan. 3 that a much-anticipated New Year cultural show set to be performed at Seoul's prestigious National Theater had been cancelled—just three days before it was to open—under pressure from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
This cancellation is just one episode in a long series of actions by the CCP aimed at stopping this show—and at silencing the independent media organization that puts it on.
The 2007 Seoul Spectacular was part of the Chinese New Year Spectacular, a traveling music and dance tour that visits 28 cities worldwide. It is produced by New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV).
The incident in Seoul was in many ways a repeat of what had occurred there the previous year. The 2006 New Year show, at that time known as the Chinese New Year Global Gala, was scheduled to be performed at the theater of the Korean Broadcasting System. Just two weeks before the show, the theater backed out of the contract, allegedly also at the behest of the Chinese Embassy. Fortunately for NTDTV, it had time to find another venue.
NTDTV's Hong Kong bureau has reported finding it nearly impossible to secure a venue at all. They say private theater owners fear reprisal from the CCP, even though Hong Kong has a quasi-independent government. NTDTV Hong Kong did host a show in 2005, but had to settle for a poor location: a city-owned venue over an hour's trip from Hong Kong.
For its May 2005 Gala, NTDTV Los Angeles rented the Luckman Fine Arts Complex at Cal State L.A. According to NTDTV staff in Los Angeles, house manager Ron Jarvis told them he had received calls from the Chinese consulate urging him not to rent out the theater to NTDTV. Jarvis politely refused, telling the consular officials, "You can come, they can come, everybody can come."
"Chinese Regime Pressures Seoul to Cancel Cultural Show"
Chinese Regime Threatens Performing Artists and
Chinese Regime Tries to Crush Cultural Show in Canada
Public and Private Threats
Attempting to deny venues is just one tactic employed by the CCP.
According to a report in Tuesday's Ottawa Citizen, the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa Canada issued a strongly worded statement denouncing the Spectacular.
The statement is said also "to have warned officials from any country [from] participating in the event." This warning is meant to discourage government officials from attending the Spectacular in Canada or from sending New Years greetings to it.
Chinese Consulates and Embassies have tried to pressure public officials from supporting the Spectacular before.
For instance, in February 2004, NTDTV hosted its inaugural Chinese New Year Global Gala (as the Spectacular was formerly called) in Washington, D.C. Staff members of several U.S. Congresspersons who had been invited to the Gala told NTDTV that a "Dr. Lu" from the Chinese Embassy called and pressed them not to attend, according to a testimony by Senior Vice President of NTDTV Samuel Zhou at a U.S. Congressional hearing in July 2005.
Ms. Carrie Hung, the spokesperson for NTDTV, says that the CCP also targets performers in the Spectacular, seeking behind the scenes to pressure them not to particpate, and sponsors, urging them not to support the show.
The interference with the Spectacular is a continuation of a campaign mounted by the CCP against NTDTV itself.
NTDTV, according to Ms. Hung, was founded in 2001 by Chinese outside of mainland China as an independent, nonprofit Chinese-language television station. It is headquartered in New York City and has correspondents in over 50 cities worldwide.
Ms. Hung, says that "NTDTV seeks to contribute to pluralism and the free flow of information in the Chinese-language media." According to Ms. Hung, the free flow of information is what the CCP fears the most—fear that leads to interference.
In his testimony before Congress, Mr. Zhou classified this interference into three types: political pressure, commercial pressure, and attempts to discredit NTDTV.
Perhaps attempts to deny NTDTV access to broadcast satellites have posed the greatest challenge to the network, threatening to deprive it of a large share of its audience world-wide and all of its audience inside China.
In 2003, NTDTV had an agreement in principle with Atlanta-based satellite provider ADTH. According to a report published by Reporters without Borders, ADTH broke the agreement because it feared losing contracts to carry Chinese-language programming.
NTDTV then signed an agreement with New Skies Satellites to broadcast its signal into China. However, three days later the company unilaterally decided to encrypt all NTDTV broadcasts, making the signal useless to those who did not have a decryption device—something very hard to come by in mainland China.
NTDTV is now successfully broadcasting into China on satellites owned by European satellite provider Eutelsat, although the current arrangement was only reached after several months of difficult negotiations.
According to Zhou, there is a direct connection between the interference of the Chinese regime with the Spectacular and the regime's attempts to put NTDTV out of business. Zhou says one reason for the Chinese regime's interference with the Spectacular is because of the very positive credit this production gives to the tv network.
If that is so, then in spite of the events in Korea, the first three weeks of the 2007 Spectacular have been a success for the network, including sold-out houses in Ottawa and San Francisco.
Epoch Times is a proud sponsor of the 2007 NTDTV Chinese New Year Spectacular.