How the Chinese Communist Party First Split on Falun Gong

The conflict in today’s Party leadership traces back to April 25, 1999

By Qi Xianyu
Epoch Times Staff

Created: May 9, 2012      Last Updated: May 9, 2012

Falun Gong practitioners gathered around Zhongnanhai to silently, peacefully appeal for fair treatment on April 25, 1999. (Photo courtesy

Following a peaceful demonstration by over 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners on April 25, 1999, the then-head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Jiang Zemin, started the persecution of Falun Gong on July 20, 1999.

To carry out the persecution, Jiang Zemin established the 610 Office, which is able to mobilize resources across state departments. The head of the 610 office is also the head of the Political and Legislative Affairs Committee (PLAC), which controls almost all aspects of law enforcement in China. In this way, the 610 Office became a second power center within the CCP.

From the 16th National Party Congress in 2002 and the 17th in 2007, Jiang’s successor, Hu Jintao, and Premier Wen Jiabao were controlled by this second authority under the command of Jiang Zemin, and they thus became a scapegoat for Jiang Zemin.

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This is the pain Hu and Wen have had to bear, as they couldn’t give an account of what was actually happening to the international community or the public in mainland China.

On the night of April 25, 1999, Jiang began pushing for the persecution of Falun Gong. On that day, Jiang saw outside his bullet-proof car windows over 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners calmly and quietly standing in lines outside the national office for appeals—the State Bureau for Letters and Calls.

Especially after seeing that a dozen of the petitioners were high-ranking military officers, Jiang’s deeply rooted jealousy and resentment exploded. He decided at that time to slander the founder of Falun Gong, Master Li Hongzhi, and eliminate the practice in three months.

Jiang later lied, saying that he had only heard of Falun Gong after the April 25 demonstration. In reality, he had encountered Master Li Hongzhi and several Falun Gong practitioners three or four years previously. His wife had learned Falun Gong, and Jiang himself had tried to imitate Master Li on many occasions.

Practice Spreads in Mainstream Society

Master Li first taught Falun Gong to the public in China on May 13, 1992, in the northeastern city of Changchun. He personally taught the practice in 56 courses, including 13 in Beijing, and 7 in Changchun. Master Li taught the practice with permission from the China Qigong Research Association based in Beijing and in accordance with Chinese laws.

On June 25, 1992, in Beijing, the first course was held in the auditorium of the National Building Material Bureau. The second course started on July 15, 1992, in the auditorium of the People’s Liberation Army Second Artillery, also in Beijing.

Students in those classes were among the upper class of Chinese society. Many students were high-ranking ministers and officials at the bureau, provincial, and state levels, and even the wife of a member of the CCP’s Politburo Standing Committee—the small body that rules China.

At the time, all mainstream people in Beijing knew Master Li was incredible, the most famous qigong master in China. No matter what kind of illness one suffered, if Master Li were asked for help, it would definitely be cured.

At the time, many retired high-level officials learned Falun Gong. After experiencing how Falun Gong healed illnesses, increased fitness, and improved morality, they wanted more people to benefit.

Spread only through word of the mouth, Falun Gong grew rapidly in mainland China. By early 1999, over 100 million people in China, mostly belonging to the mainstream society, had read the main book of Falun Gong teachings, “Zhuan Falun.”

While serving as the minister of Foreign Trade and Economy and later first vice premier, Li Lanqing (who later participated in the persecution) had a longtime colleague who was a Falun Gong practitioner. This colleague recommended Falun Gong to Li Lanqing and gave Li Lanqing a copy of “Zhuan Falun.”

Luo Gan (secretary of the PLAC and the one who first implemented the persecution of Falun Gong) also heard of Falun Gong from his previous boss and colleague at the China Academy of Machinery Science and Technology in 1995.

At the time, such officials as the vice prime minister, chairman and vice chairman of the National People’s Congress, and the chairman and vice chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Committee (CPPCC) read “Zhuan Falun.”

Wang Fang, who was Public Security minister at the time, practiced Falun Gong. Premier Li Peng read “Zhuan Falun.” Li Peng lived next door to Jiang Zemin and gave him a copy of “Zhuan Falun.”

Hu Jintao’s Classmate

Hu Jintao knew of Falun Gong in 1998 at the latest because Zhang Mengye, a classmate at Tsinghua University, introduced it to him. Hu Jintao, his wife Liu Yongqing, and Zhang Mengye entered Tsinghua together in 1959. They were classmates for six or seven years and were very close to each other.

Zhang Mengye’s health was quite poor in college; he even had to take a year-long sick leave. Later, he suffered from the accumulation of fluid characteristic of advanced cirrhosis. His entire face was swollen, and doctors said he would not live long, but his illnesses were all cured after he practiced Falun Gong.

Zhang Mengye told Hu about his experience during their school reunion in 1998. In 1999, Zhang mailed many Falun Gong books to Hu’s wife Liu Yongqing, who wrote a greeting card to express her appreciation.

“Jiang Zemin had long been planning to launch a political movement and force everyone to pledge loyalty to him.”

It’s been rumored that Liu Yongqing also learned Falun Gong. When Hu Jintao got the book “Zhuan Falun,” he said, “This is a book for Buddhahood cultivation and can’t be placed randomly. It needs to be placed at the top of the bookshelf.”

A day after April 25, 1999, after hearing that Jiang Zemin had decided to persecute Falun Gong, Liu Yongqing wrote a letter to Zhang Mengye, telling him to be careful.

Later, Jiang Zeming intentionally arrested Zhang Mengye and made Zheng Mengye the first Falun Gong practitioner to be sentenced in Guangdong Province. In this way, he wanted to make Hu Jintao a scapegoat—if Hu accepted Zhang’s arrest, then Hu appeared in the public eye as implicated in the persecution.

Jiang Zemin’s Wife

As early as 1993, Jiang Zemin heard frequently about Master Li. It was said that a person close to Jiang was interested in Falun Gong and now and then mentioned Falun Gong news to Jiang, such as someone recovering from a disease by practicing Falun Gong, or someone being carried into Master Li’s class and later being able to walk out unaided.

Occasionally this person mentioned how Master Li had told some senior leaders about their past lives. Jiang wanted to hear about his own past lives.

One day when Jiang was resting in bed, this person came in. He jumped out of bed and asked eagerly, “Did Master Li mention me? Did he say who I was in past lives?” The person replied no. People at the scene were struck by Jiang’s disappointment and anger.

Around 1994, Jiang’s wife Wang Yeping invited someone to her home in Zhongnanhai (the offices and living quarters of the CCP leadership) to teach her Falun Gong, which she started practicing at home. One day, when she was practicing with her eyes shut, she heard someone moving near her and opened her eyes.

She saw Jiang stealthily imitating her movements and folding his hands in front his belly at the end (a gesture that ends some of the Falun Gong exercises.)

When he found Wang was looking at him, he was embarrassed and enraged. He banned Wang from practicing anymore and said, “Even my wife believes in Li Hongzhi. Who will believe in me, the general secretary?”

But still, Jiang often imitated Master Li’s gestures and movements. Previously Jiang usually put his arms stiffly at both sides when he made speeches, but when he found Master Li often overlapped his hands in front of him, Jiang started to do the same.

In 1995, Jiang’s staff created a “Three Stresses” theory: “Stress study, stress politics, and stress healthy trends.” Jiang pushed the theory nationwide, but he knew it was a rootless theory that nobody would read.

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But Master Li’s books, based on his lectures, became very popular. In December 1994, Master Li’s main book, “Zhuan Falun,” was published by China Radio and Television Publishing House managed by the State Department’s State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television.

Before “Zhuan Falun” was banned in 1996, it was rated as most popular several times. People’s respect and gratitude toward Master Li was beyond what words can express. From time to time, Jiang heard people talking about Master Li’s noble character and sterling integrity with great admiration. All these things offended the jealous Jiang.

Establishing Personal Authority

Jiang stepped up to leadership by being a firm supporter of the bloody suppression of the pro-democracy movement in 1989. He had neither Mao Zedong’s self-confidence nor Deng Xiaoping’s authority, and he had no talent.

Jiang was afraid of shouldering responsibility and always let the Politburo Standing Committee meet to make group decisions on important matters. Knowing few truly respected him, Jiang had long been planning to launch a political movement and force everyone to pledge loyalty to him, in a way similar to how people did during Mao’s Cultural Revolution. His goal was to establish his own authority.

After the April 25 demonstration, Jiang said in a central Party meeting: “Learning from the fall of communism in the Soviet Union, the CCP has long been looking for an opportunity to ‘sanitize’ social ideology. Now that Falun Gong promotes truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, our opportunity has come. We should freely attack Falun Gong and use what is learned [from the suppression] to deal with other qigong groups.”

When Jiang made the decision, he did not take into consideration if it was right to persecute this group of people. He based his judgment on his personal gain, not on morality and conscience.

Challenging Falun Gong With Atheism

On the night of April 25, 1999, Jiang wrote a letter to all Politburo members in the same fashion as Mao’s 1966 letter “Bombard the Headquarters,” which led to nationwide turmoil and the Cultural Revolution. For the first time, Jiang did not consult other people’s opinions.

He said in the letter, “Can’t communists’ Marxist theories, our belief in materialism and atheism, defeat what Falun Gong promotes?” The letter was printed and circulated.

At the Politburo Standing Committee meeting, all the other six committee members argued against thepersecution of Falun Gong.

Then Vice Premier Zhu Rongji said: “Their greatest wish is just to become healthy. … So I think it is not reasonable to argue these people have political ambitions. Furthermore, we can’t go back to solving ideological issues with political movements. This is not good for our primary goals in economic development, and worse for China’s image of opening up.”

Jiang jumped at this remark and yelled, with his finger pointing at Zhu, “Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! The Party and country will die!” His outburst frightened others.

Zhu, who had been labeled a “rightist” for a comment he made in 1958, fell back into silence. For that comment, he had suffered persecution for almost 20 years, thus fully tasting the iron fist the CCP uses against dissidents.

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In order to force other Standing Committee members to agree to eliminating Falun Gong, Jiang had conspired with then-National Security Head Zeng Qinghong to provide fake intelligence through special agents in the United States. The false information claimed that the founder of Falun Gong was supported by the CIA and received tens of millions of dollars from CIA.

Jiang announced this “important intelligence” to the central Party. Other Standing Committee members, unable to tell if it was true, had to remain silent.

In 1992, Jiang had used the same tactic to remove two political enemies, Yang Shangkun, former president of China, and his half-brother General Yang Baibing. Jiang and Zeng Qinghong spread rumors in Beijing that the Yang brothers were planning to seize military power and to redress the 1989 pro-democracy movement. Deng Xiaoping was deceived and didn’t realize his mistake until it was too late.

Jiang and Zeng used the same plot against Falun Gong.

Second Power Center

Though Zhu Rongji peacefully handled Falun Gong practitioners’ petitions and received international praise for doing so, and though the CCP kept promising to the outside world that people’s freedom of practicing Falun Gong was never denied or limited, after April 25, 1999, Jiang Zemin was determined to raise his knife to 100 million Falun Gong practitioners. The false promises of not suppressing the group were made only to buy more time for him to prepare to execute the persecution.

“Even my wife believes in Li Hongzhi. Who will believe in me, the general secretary?” —Jiang Zemin, former head of the CCP

On June 10, 1999, three days after his speech at the Politburo Standing Committee meeting, the CCP established the “Leadership Team to Handle the Falun Gong Issue,” aka the 610 Office. Li Lanqing and Luo Gan were the top and second leaders of the team. This organization, like the Central Cultural Revolution Team in Mao’s era and Hitler’s Gestapo, was given the privilege to transcend the law.

Since it was not legitimate for a Party organ to directly interfere with government administrative work, Jiang ordered the establishment of the office of the Central Leading Group on Dealing with Heretical Religions in September 2000, which gave the 610 Office the disguise of a government agency.

Though the CCP always denied the existence of the 610 Office to the outside world, the office became Jiang’s most powerful tool in the persecution since it was not limited by any law. He gave all important orders himself and remained the real head of the organization. For fear of leaving evidence, Jiang never put his name on orders. The 610 Office staff would just execute the unsigned orders.

Developing the Persecution

To provide “legal grounding” for the persecution of Falun Gong, Jiang ordered the People’s Congress to issue a so-called anti-cult law on Oct. 30, 1999. The law had no clear definition for the word “cult.” Jiang went against the basic principle of defining crimes by law.

In addition, Jiang’s anti-cult law was an ex post facto law that prosecuted actions that had taken place before the law was issued. Jiang’s actions undermined the Chinese legal system, which was recovering from the chaos of the Mao era.

Jiang’s key strategies for persecuting Falun Gong included “defame their reputations, ruin them financially, and destroy them physically.” He destroyed Falun Gong books, blocked information on the Internet, and defamed Falun Gong in the media. He also charged practitioners high fines, confiscated their personal property, terminated their employment, and interfered with their businesses.

Practitioners were physically eliminated through brutal beating, torture, ill treatment, and the harvesting of organs from living practitioners. The police were encouraged to torture practitioners by being allowed to count deaths from torture as suicide, cremating bodies without identifying the persons, and through the profitable live organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners.

To incite hatred against practitioners, Jiang ordered Luo Gan to stage the 2001 Tiananmen Square self-immolation in which non-practitioners disguised as practitioners set themselves on fire. The news was spread to the world through the Xinhua News Agency at unprecedented speed.

The incident was soon found to be a hoax by multiple international organizations. When questioned, a staff member involved in the production of the self-immolation story said some scenes in the CCTV news reports about the immolations were “shot afterward.”

Changing the Standing Committee

Jiang Zemin also established a special task force to assassinate the founder of Falun Gong. Jiang’s order read in part, “Must improve operations, establish various schemes. … The assassination attempt must succeed.”

Jiang risked using all the state’s money, destroyed the foundation of the Chinese people’s morality, and destroyed the future of the Chinese regime by using brutal and inhuman methods to persecute Falun Gong practitioners who cultivate Buddhahood.

In trying to escape the responsibility and avoid getting brought to justice, Jiang Zemin installed many of his trusted aides in high-ranking positions before he stepped down in 2002, seeking to prevent his successor Hu Jintao from modifying the polices against Falun Gong.

During the 17th National Congress in 2007, he added two additional members to the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee. The two additions were Li Changchun, in charge of anti-Falun Gong propaganda, and Luo Gang, in charge of the brutal persecution of Falun Gong.

Related Articles

Under Jiang Zemin, the Standing Committee operated under the slogan “centered around Jiang.” When Jiang stepped down, he stopped the Standing Committee from following this principle. Instead, he replaced it with the term “collective leadership,” with each of the nine Politburo Standing Committee members governing a separate area. He did this to take away Hu Jintao’s ability to question the authority of Li Changchun and Luo Gang.

This article was first published in the New Epoch Weekly.

The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 19 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.

One Response to How the Chinese Communist Party First Split on Falun Gong

  1. Pingback: One Party, Two Factions: Where’s the CCP headed? « Diplomatic Scrutiny

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