TAIPEI, Taiwan—A giant world map appeared at Taipei’s Liberty Square on Nov. 16 after three days of intensive labor and preparation.
The map and seven Chinese characters were assembled by about 6,500 adherents of the spiritual discipline Falun Gong, some of whom traveled to Taiwan to join in the spectacle.
Dressed in either blue, yellow, or white, they took up seats on color-coordinated mats that made up an outline of the image.
Above the map were the words “truthfulness,” “compassion,” and “forbearance” in traditional Chinese characters. The words summarize the moral teachings of Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa. Above the characters were rays of yellow light.
Beneath the map were four other Chinese characters, which translate to mean “the Great Law spreads vast and wide.” The short phrase was used to point out how people from over 110 countries have taken up Falun Gong since it was first introduced to the public in China in 1992.
The character formation, which has become an annual tradition for Falun Gong adherents in Taiwan, has always drawn support from other countries. This year, about 1,150 adherents came from 18 countries and regions all over the world, including Canada, Israel, Germany, Argentina, the United States, Ukraine, Spain, Brazil, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, and Indonesia.
Over the previous three days, hundreds of adherents manually placed the round color-coded mats in Liberty Square in preparation for the character formation.
Huang Chun-mei, event organizer and deputy chairman of the Taiwan Falun Dafa Association, explained that the annual character formation has helped inspire support for persecuted Falun Gong adherents in China, as those in Taiwan share about the physical and spiritual benefits of Falun Gong, as well as the truth behind the persecution in China, with passersby.
As for why the event was held at Liberty Square, named for its role in the island’s transition from one-party rule to democracy, Huang explained that the public space draws a lot of international tourists, particularly those from mainland China. She said that the large-scale character formation at this location has helped people understand the extent and crimes of the ongoing persecution suffered by adherents at the hands of the communist regime in China, in stark contrast to the freedom of belief allowed in Taiwan.
During the annual character formation, adherents gather to remember the freedoms enjoyed by the group in China before the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) began persecuting the practice in 1999. Prior to the persecution, adherents in China would hold similar large-scale character formations. There were about 70 million to 100 million adherents in the mainland when the persecution began, according to official estimates.
Then-CCP leader Jiang Zemin, feeling threatened by the practice’s enormous popularity, ordered a nationwide persecution, beginning on July 20, 1999. Since then, thousands have been thrown into prisons, brainwashing centers, and labor camps in an effort to force adherents into giving up the practice.
Mr. Liu, a Chinese tourist visiting Taiwan for the second time, told The Epoch Times that he admires Falun Gong adherents in China since they are able to uphold their faith in the face of the CCP’s persecution.
Liu added that some Chinese citizens hold biased views of Falun Gong due to the CCP’s propaganda. He said that initially, he also did not believe reports about the CCP’s widespread harvesting of organs from prisoners of conscience, particularly adherents of Falun Gong.
He elaborated that he had filmed the character formation and will bring the video back to China to let other people see how popular the practice is outside the country.
Huang Tzu-ling, a Falun Gong adherent and first-year student in the Department of Radio, Television, and Film at Taiwan’s Shih Hsin University, told The Epoch Times that she has taken part in many character formation events over the years.
Huang said she’s happy to see members of the public taking photos of the character formation and learning more about the practice beyond the CCP’s propaganda.
The Taiwan bureau of The Epoch Times contributed to the report.