Why is the Chinese Embassy Pressuring a London Theatre?

March 13, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
London Coliseum
Home to the English National Opera (ENO), the London Coliseum is the largest theatre in London, with 2,359 seats. The theatre underwent a complete and detailed restoration from 2000 which was supported by National Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage, The National Lottery through Arts Council England, Vernon & Hazel Ellis and a number of trust and individual donors. (Roger Luo/ Da Ji Yuan/The Epoch Times)

In just one month, Shen Yun Performing Arts will bring its renowned revival of China’s 5,000-year-old culture to the stage at one of Britain’s top venues.

But as ticket sales heat up and well wishes come flooding in, people are asking the question: why is the Chinese Embassy in London trying to stop this performance that so successfully showcases traditional Chinese culture?

The answer lies in the Chinese communist regime’s fear of true Chinese culture being brought to a wider audience in the West, according to London-based Chinese novelist and commentator Zhang Pu. 

Shen Yun’s stated mission is to revive the divinely inspired culture of China through performances of classical Chinese dance. 

Shen Yun will perform at the London Coliseum from April 12th-15th, but the promoters say that the Chinese Embassy has been pressuring the theatre to cancel, following a global pattern that has seen the Chinese regime resort to many different tactics in its attempts to derail Shen Yun performances. 

So why would representatives of an embassy want to stop a performance renowned for showcasing their own national culture at many of the world’s top venues?

Zhang Pu explains that one must first understand that the Chinese Embassy does not represent the real culture of China, but the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). 

Shen Yun truly captures the essence of China’s traditional culture he says. “I’ve seen Shen Yun’s performance, which is not only first-class quality, but what it represents is orthodox traditional Chinese culture, with a lofty moral standard and strong artistic flavour. It is widely praised and welcomed by the whole world.”

“The CCP is terrified of Shen Yun’s performance because, in the 60-plus years of the CCP’s ruling China, it has destroyed the traditional Chinese culture and morality,” says Pu. “In today’s China there is no culture at all, let alone the traditional culture and arts.”

The CCP has never been able to produce anything convincing in the name of traditional Chinese culture says Pu. 

“Whatever promotions or art groups it sends to perform overseas, they are always in accord with its ideology. Superficially they are called China’s traditional culture; in essence, though, everyone knows they are permeated with the political views and ideology of the CCP.”

Pu says that the CCP is highly sensitive about what is done in the name of traditional culture, because it wants to use the superficial elements of the culture as a propaganda tool for itself. The CCP needs to do business with and interact with the West, but has an image problem – that of a dark authoritarian, rogue regime. 

“It spends a lot of money, tens of billions of yuan, doing the so-called “Great Propaganda”, that is, to whitewash itself using all kinds of means. It wants to have a collective brainwashing for the people of the West and even of the world, and make Westerners accept what it propagandises.”

With three Shen Yun companies touring simultaneously for five months a year, giving hundreds of performances, Shen Yun has brought the traditional Chinese culture to a wider audience, says Pu.

“After seeing Shen Yun, Westerners can make a comparison with the CCP’s propaganda. They can clearly tell what is really beautiful art, what is real traditional Chinese culture and arts, and what is the essence of the 5,000 years of the Chinese civilisation.”

Pu says that he has seen performances in London put on by the CCP.

“When the CCP’s top troupe, the Dance Troupe of the General Political Department of the People’s Liberation Army, came, its performances were full of low, sexual jokes, flirting up and down the stage. Their dance performances are the same ones the CCP has used for decades. It is absolutely not art.”

He says the comparison with Shen Yun is very clear. “When Shen Yun performed in London, the theatre was full, people from all levels of society were awed by the artistry of Shen Yun. I say it is not just about artistic quality, it shows something sublime, righteous, and noble. The power of its morality is great, that’s why it can touch people’s hearts and is welcomed across the globe.

“No matter how much money it has, [the CCP] cannot bring out any world class performance troupe. This is why it tries everything possible to obstruct Shen Yun performances around the world.”

Such attempts to derail Shen Yun have included threatening to withdraw loans promised to the Moldovan government, writing letters to politicians in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada telling them not to support Shen Yun, and slashing tires on the Shen Yun tour bus in Ottawa. 

The Falun Dafa Association, promoters of Shen Yun in the UK, say that there are over 40 documented cases like this. 

The promoters also echo Pu’s assessment of the situation.

“It’s difficult for us to imagine this in the West, but the Chinese Communist Party truly cannot bear for anything done in the name of China that does not fit their own ideology,” says Dr Wei Liu, director of the Association.

Last year, the Embassy sent staff to meet with the theatre before the Shen Yun performances, says Dr Liu. “They asked the Coliseum to stop providing a venue to Shen Yun. They contacted the Coliseum again after the show had finished. This year, the Embassy has contacted London Coliseum again.”

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