A member of the European Union’s business consulting body condemned the Chinese regime’s recent attempts to influence European theater venues.
In recent months and years, popular theater venues throughout Europe have received letters or personal visits from Chinese diplomats demanding that they not host a particular traditional Chinese performance—otherwise relations with China would be at stake, the message would often be.
The Chinese regime’s target was Shen Yun, a performing arts company based in the United States and founded by Chinese artists in exile.
European media have routinely uncovered instances of Chinese consulates and their operatives around the world pressuring theaters not to lease their space to Shen Yun, or attempting to coerce Western government officials to not attend the performances or voice support for the company.
To have China “interfere with our cultural life is not acceptable at all,” said Henri Malosse, a French representative to the European Economic and Social Committee, a consulting body of the EU that deals with businesses, trade unions, and other economic interest groups. Malosse was president of the committee from 2013 to 2015.
“Where is the freedom of expression, of culture in Europe?” said Malosse in a recent interview with The Epoch Times’ sister broadcaster media, NTD. He lamented that European countries are increasingly submitting to the “Chinese hegemonic attitude.”
Why would China be attacking a cultural performance? According to Shen Yun’s website, the company aims to revive 5,000 years of Chinese civilization through music and dance. This is a feat impossible in mainland China, where the Communist Party’s atheist ideology has destroyed elements of Chinese history and culture since it took power.
Some of Shen Yun’s programs also deal with sensitive contemporary topics that Beijing deems taboo, such as Beijing’s ongoing persecution of the spiritual meditation group, Falun Gong.
Malosse likened Beijing’s attempts to censor Shen Yun in Europe to the time of Nazi Germany, when performances by Germans of Jewish origin were forbidden from being shown.
“We can’t accept this interference and refuse to let the Chinese government to continue this fascist, anti-democratic attitude,” he said.
Malosse believed China’s attempts to undermine Shen Yun are an extension of its aggressive behavior throughout the world, whether in trade or diplomacy, including China’s use of financial clout, such as through the One Belt, One Road initiative, to pressure countries into siding with Beijing’s agenda.
The French representative said he had seen a performance of Shen Yun some years ago in Paris and thought highly of its “rich — not fake, not superficial” portrayal of traditional Chinese culture.
“It is the best ambassador of real China,” he said, “going deep in traditions and the long, rich history of China.”
Lixin Yang of NTD contributed to this report.