OTTAWA, Canada—For most people who come to see Shen Yun Performing Arts, it’s a show of unparalleled beauty and artistic excellence. For Senator Thanh Hai Ngo, in addition to it being an outstanding performance of classical Chinese dance and music, it’s a culture and story that hit very close to home.
Forty years ago Senator Ngo left Vietnam when Saigon fell to the communists. The repression that followed saw at least a million people sent to reeducation camps and hundreds of thousands subject to extrajudicial execution. Religious repression and an attempt to rewire the entire culture in the name of communism followed.
It was a fate China suffered decades earlier. When the Chinese Communist Party came to power in 1949, it viewed traditional Chinese culture as its greatest rival. While traditional culture sought harmony between heaven and earth, the Chinese Communist Party held that people must “fight with heaven, fight with earth, fight with each other.” It became a popular Party slogan.
This ideology hit its zenith during the decade-long Cultural Revolution, a campaign that began in 1966 to violently destroy all remaining vestiges of traditional Chinese culture.
New York-based Shen Yun was founded on a mission to revive the Middle Kingdom’s 5,000 years of divinely inspired culture and effectively undo the damage caused by the campaigns of the past.
“I think in every scene you can see that religion is there. You have the monks, you have the God, you have something from the sky. So basically the spiritual things, which of course do not exist in China right now, it [Shen Yun] is reminding us that the spiritual things should be there with us. So I think that it’s very good, a very good show,” said Senator Ngo.
For Senator Ngo, Canada’s first Vietnamese senator, the entire show was fascinating and uplifting.
“I think it’s excellent. … It’s interesting. For the Canadian people who do not know the Chinese culture, I think this is the best [show] for them to know.”
Senator Ngo is a respected advocate for freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. For decades he’s also been a champion in the fight against communist oppression, having suffered it firsthand when he was forced to leave his homeland or face the fate too many other suffered. He sees close parallels with China’s recent history.
“In China right now, the freedom of expression and the freedom of religion are not there. I think this show reveals the spiritual things. And I know that at this time, at this moment, under the communist regime, the freedom of religion doesn’t exist anymore,” he said.
“We’re always thinking China is big, China has the economy, and so on, and so on, but for the human rights and the violations of freedom of expression and freedom of religion, I think the Western countries should be aware of it.”
Senator Ngo said he believed Shen Yun was one of the best shows to ever grace the National Arts Centre, and he would very much recommend Shen Yun to his friends and colleagues.
He would say to them: “Next time the show is here, you’d better go see it. You have to experience it at least once in your lifetime.”
Reporting by NTD Television
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform around the world. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reaction since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.