Former Canadian Lawmaker Criticizes The New York Times for Planning Hit Piece on Shen Yun

Former Canadian Lawmaker Criticizes The New York Times for Planning Hit Piece on Shen Yun
Former Ontario MPP Jack MacLaren attended Shen Yun's performance at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa on April 15, 2024. (NTD)
Andrew Chen

Shen Yun is doing “a fantastic job” and The New York Times shouldn’t be targeting it with hit pieces, former Ontario lawmaker Jack MacLaren told The Epoch Times after seeing the classical Chinese dance performance at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa on April 15.

“It’s been about 10 years since I came to my first Shen Yun show. I think I’ve been three times, and I’ve always enjoyed it,” added Mr. MacLaren, who served as a member of Ontario’s provincial parliament from 2011 to 2018.

His remarks come on the heels of an Epoch Times article in March reporting that the NY Times had been planning a hit piece against Shen Yun Performing Arts for nearly six months.

Shen Yun, a New York-based non-profit dance company, was founded in 2016 by a group of leading Chinese artists who had fled communist persecution. The company is dedicated to reviving the authentic traditional culture of China before communism took hold.

“Shen Yun has a great opportunity and is doing a great job of telling the history of the Chinese culture before communism,” Mr. MacLaren said.

“It’s something that the whole world needs not to forget. Unfortunately, the Chinese Communist Party would like people to forget, and that would be a terrible thing.”

As part of showcasing classical Chinese dance, Shen Yun presents dance stories drawn from ancient Chinese myths and legends as well as events of the modern day in China.

A theme that the company has not shied away from is the regime’s ongoing persecution of adherents of the Falun Gong spiritual practice, which includes the killing of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience for their organs—an atrocity the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) does not want the world to see.

‘They Should Not Be Doing That’

Two NY Times reporters, Michael Rothfeld and Nicole Hong, specifically sought out former Shen Yun artists who might have left the company years ago with a grudge, suggest records obtained by The Epoch Times. Ms. Hong began her work on the Shen Yun story after spending six months at the NY Times China desk.
As reported previously by The Epoch Times, former NY Times reporter Didi Kirsten Tatlow has told of being blocked by the newspaper from pursuing stories about the Chinese regime’s organ transplant abuse after her managers initially published some of her work.
An international, independent peoples’ tribunal based in London, UK, in March 2020 concluded beyond any reasonable doubt that “forced organ harvesting has been committed for years throughout China on a significant scale and that Falun Gong practitioners have been oneand probably the mainsource of organ supply.”

The NY Times has also regularly published propaganda advertorials paid for by a company controlled by the CCP.

The Epoch Times reached out to the NY Times for comment but did not hear back by publication time.

Renowned international human rights lawyer David Matas, who in 2006 co-authored an initial report on the killing of Falun Gong practitioners for their organs, has written a commentary saying that the concern about the NY Times planning a “hit piece” on Shen Yun is entirely realistic based on the paper’s record.

Mr. MacLaren says that Shen Yun’s artists are “doing a great job” and “keeping Chinese history alive,” and it’s wrong for the NY Times to try to undermine the company.

“They should not be doing that” and they have “absolutely no basis whatsoever” for targeting Shen Yun, he added.

Threats and Sabotage

The CCP destroyed temples, Buddhist statues, historical sites, and ancient artifacts in China during the decade-long Cultural Revolution launched by the Party’s founding leader Mao Zedong in 1966. The regime has over the years all but eliminated the country’s traditional philosophical and moral teachings and the spiritual foundation of Chinese culture.

Shen Yun, with its signature slogan “China Before Communism” along with its portrayal of the CCP’s persecution of Falun Gong, has thus long been a thorn in Beijing’s side. The regime has made numerous efforts to intimidate and halt the art group’s worldwide touring since its establishment in 2006.

The latest incidents, all occurring in March, show that those efforts are escalating. They included three bomb threats made against Shen Yun—in upstate New York, California, and Vancouver—and two of Shen Yun’s buses, in California, being vandalized in a way that suggests an intent to cause a serious accident.

These incidents echo several from previous years in which the tires of Shen Yun’s buses were cut in the same way. The Chinese embassies and consulates around the world have also written to theaters, unsuccessfully, attempting to pressure them to stop Shen Yun from performing.

“They’re very brave people,” Mr. MacLaren said, referring to Shen Yun’s artists as well as Falun Gong adherents.

‘Wonderful Moral Values’

Despite intimidation and sabotage from Beijing, Shen Yun has grown from one to eight equally large companies that tour worldwide simultaneously every year.

“They’ve grown—in 17 years—from one company when they started, to eight, putting on many more shows, many more dancers, in so many more cities. They’re just doing a much better job of communicating to the world what Chinese history was like, what the Chinese culture was like before communism, and that things are going to change,” Mr. MacLaren said.

He noted that China has historically been a culturally and morally enriched country.

“China was a country that was very advanced in culture and education and had wonderful moral values—based on [the dance story about] Falun Gong, and I picked up on thatand there’s truth, compassion, and tolerance. And if anybody can do those three things, you’re a pretty good person. And that’s really what Falun Gong is all about: morals and values,” said Mr. MacLaren.

The former lawmaker said that Chinese people should value their culture, adding that “the traditional values of truth, compassion, and tolerance, that are the foundation of Falun Gong, are not going to apply just to Chinese culture, the Chinese country, or Chinese people. Those are wonderful values anywhere in the world.”

“So it’s a wonderful experience to be here [at Shen Yun]. It reminds us of the good times in China that went on through many dynasties. And hopefully, what’s happening now with the Chinese Communist Party is a temporary situation that we can fix and get through.”

Petr Svab and NTD contributed to this report
The Epoch Times is a proud sponsor of Shen Yun Performing Arts. We have covered audience reactions since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.
Andrew Chen is a news reporter with the Canadian edition of The Epoch Times.
Related Topics