Shen Yun Performing Arts has graced many of the world’s most prestigious stages over the last several years, captivating audiences and earning a reputation as the world’s pre-eminent Chinese performing arts company.
But Shen Yun’s mission to revive the 5,000 years of divinely inspired culture of China has brought with it pressure and interference from the regime in China with diplomats using various methods to try to derail performances.
London is the latest place for this interference, where the local promoters say that the Chinese Embassy has been putting pressure on the upper management of the theatre.
The promoters say that last year the London Chinese Embassy sent staff to the theatre to try to convince them not to host Shen Yun. This year, the Embassy has again been interfering, they say, fitting a global pattern.
Shen Yun is due to perform at the London Coliseum from April 12th-15th, promoted by the UK Falun Dafa Association. The Association’s vice president professor Li Shao says that the regime is frightened of Shen Yun.
“The Chinese communist regime is atheist, and spent years trying to destroy the very culture and values that Shen Yun is bringing back to life so successfully.”
Shao says the actions of the Embassy simply reveal the nature of the Chinese Communist Party. “Shen Yun showcases the riches of China’s heritage. Isn’t bringing that to the world a great thing for China and the Chinese people? What kind of government would overturn the diplomatic norms, and interfere in basic artistic freedoms in order to stop foreigners seeing a beautiful display of their country’s own traditional culture?”
Early last year in South Korea, the Chinese Vice Consulate and other consulate staff spoke with the local governments and theatres in Goyang and Daegu demanding the cancellation of the rental contracts with the local Shen Yun promoter.
The consular employees also called TV stations and told them that the performance had been cancelled and to stop broadcasting advertisements.
Two years ago, in Moldova the Chinese regime threatened to withdraw loans promised to the government unless they pressured the theatre into cancelling Shen Yun.
Directly putting pressure on venues is just one of the tactics used by the regime in recent years, says Shao.
In some places such as the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, the consulate has written letters to local government officials encouraging them not to attend Shen Yun performances.
In writing such letters, the Chinese regime representatives reflect a “deep-seated fear, paranoia, and sense of inferiority”, said George Mason University’s professor Zhang Tianliang, in a 2010 article published in The Epoch Times.
“What the regime fears most is that Shen Yun, which has swept across Europe, the Americas, Australia, and Asia, will eventually clear the clouds of deceit spread by the communist regime, and the vulgarity and ugliness of the Communist Party culture will only become more apparent,” said Tianliang.
Since Shen Yun first began performing in 2006, the Chinese regime has sought to interfere. In a blog titled “Who’s Afraid of Shen Yun?” Leeshai Lemish, an MC for the performance, has documented 46 cases of interference in 20 countries that have taken place since 2008.
The actions of embassies has also raised hackles among politicians in other places such as the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, who believe it oversteps the diplomatic line.
Dr Cathy Casey, an Auckland, New Zealand, City Council member, in February 2011, commenting on a letter from the Chinese consul general in Auckland that curtly requested she not attend Shen Yun, said: “I’m really upset that the consulate should think it can influence elected members in a host country, where they’re our guest.”
“This consul general has no right to tell me not to go to a production in Auckland. How dare they? It’s completely inappropriate behaviour as a diplomat in this country,” Casey said. “I resent the intrusion of the consul into my political life and the political life of the Auckland Council.”