How the Chinese Communist Party First Split on Falun Gong

May 9, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
Falun Gong practitioners gathered around Zhongnanhai on April 25, 1999
Falun Gong practitioners gathered around Zhongnanhai to silently, peacefully appeal for fair treatment on April 25, 1999. (Photo courtesy

Following a peaceful demonstration by over 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners on April 25, 1999, the then-head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Jiang Zemin, started the persecution of Falun Gong on July 20, 1999.

To carry out the persecution, Jiang Zemin established the 610 Office, which is able to mobilize resources across state departments. The head of the 610 office is also the head of the Political and Legislative Affairs Committee (PLAC), which controls almost all aspects of law enforcement in China. In this way, the 610 Office became a second power center within the CCP.

From the 16th National Party Congress in 2002 and the 17th in 2007, Jiang’s successor, Hu Jintao, and Premier Wen Jiabao were controlled by this second authority under the command of Jiang Zemin, and they thus became a scapegoat for Jiang Zemin.

Click to read about the most recent developments in the ongoing power struggle within the Chinese communist regime. In this special topic, we provide readers with the necessary context to understand the situation. Get the RSS feed. Get the Timeline of Events. Who are the Major Players? Chinese Regime in Crisis RSS Feed

This is the pain Hu and Wen have had to bear, as they couldn’t give an account of what was actually happening to the international community or the public in mainland China.

On the night of April 25, 1999, Jiang began pushing for the persecution of Falun Gong. On that day, Jiang saw outside his bullet-proof car windows over 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners calmly and quietly standing in lines outside the national office for appeals—the State Bureau for Letters and Calls.

Especially after seeing that a dozen of the petitioners were high-ranking military officers, Jiang’s deeply rooted jealousy and resentment exploded. He decided at that time to slander the founder of Falun Gong, Master Li Hongzhi, and eliminate the practice in three months.

Jiang later lied, saying that he had only heard of Falun Gong after the April 25 demonstration. In reality, he had encountered Master Li Hongzhi and several Falun Gong practitioners three or four years previously. His wife had learned Falun Gong, and Jiang himself had tried to imitate Master Li on many occasions.

Practice Spreads in Mainstream Society

Master Li first taught Falun Gong to the public in China on May 13, 1992, in the northeastern city of Changchun. He personally taught the practice in 56 courses, including 13 in Beijing, and 7 in Changchun. Master Li taught the practice with permission from the China Qigong Research Association based in Beijing and in accordance with Chinese laws.

On June 25, 1992, in Beijing, the first course was held in the auditorium of the National Building Material Bureau. The second course started on July 15, 1992, in the auditorium of the People’s Liberation Army Second Artillery, also in Beijing.

Students in those classes were among the upper class of Chinese society. Many students were high-ranking ministers and officials at the bureau, provincial, and state levels, and even the wife of a member of the CCP’s Politburo Standing Committee—the small body that rules China.

At the time, all mainstream people in Beijing knew Master Li was incredible, the most famous qigong master in China. No matter what kind of illness one suffered, if Master Li were asked for help, it would definitely be cured.

At the time, many retired high-level officials learned Falun Gong. After experiencing how Falun Gong healed illnesses, increased fitness, and improved morality, they wanted more people to benefit.

Spread only through word of mouth, Falun Gong grew rapidly in mainland China. By early 1999, over 100 million people in China, mostly belonging to the mainstream society, had read the main book of Falun Gong teachings, “Zhuan Falun.”

While serving as the minister of Foreign Trade and Economy and later first vice premier, Li Lanqing (who later participated in the persecution) had a longtime colleague who was a Falun Gong practitioner. This colleague recommended Falun Gong to Li Lanqing and gave Li Lanqing a copy of “Zhuan Falun.”

Luo Gan (secretary of the PLAC and the one who first implemented the persecution of Falun Gong) also heard of Falun Gong from his previous boss and colleague at the China Academy of Machinery Science and Technology in 1995.

At the time, such officials as the vice prime minister, chairman and vice chairman of the National People’s Congress, and the chairman and vice chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Committee (CPPCC) read “Zhuan Falun.”

Wang Fang, who was Public Security minister at the time, practiced Falun Gong. Premier Li Peng read “Zhuan Falun.” Li Peng lived next door to Jiang Zemin and gave him a copy of “Zhuan Falun.”