The economic influence of the Chinese communist dictatorship in free countries begins to translate into political influence and threatens to take the censorship in the Asian country to the West.
Pressures of Chinese diplomacy in Catalonia to censor a show
A striking example of the pressures of Chinese diplomacy to silence dissenting Chinese voices has been in Spain. In April 2014, Shen Yun Performing Arts, a theater company based in New York and dedicated to paying tribute to traditional Chinese culture, denounced the attempt of officials of the Chinese Consulate in Barcelona to censor a theatrical work of that company in the Catalan capital. The complaint noted that Chinese officials tried to access confidential information about the contract made by the company to perform at the National Theater of Catalonia, as well as defame and slander the artists. The pressures were also exercised before the Catalan regional government, without success. Despite the seriousness of what happened, only a Spanish media, the newspaper El Mundo, gave notice of it.
What happened in January at the Royal Theater of Madrid
In January 2019, the censorship attempt was repeated, this time in Madrid. Shen Yun Performing Arts denounced the cancellation of its show at the Teatro Real after the pressures of the Chinese Embassy in Madrid. The American company had already signed the contract for the show, had already reserved seats in hotels for the dancers and the orchestra and had already begun its promotional campaign with brochures and advertising spaces on the street and in the Madrid Metro. However, unexpectedly, the Royal Theater canceled the show claiming technical reasons a month after signing the contract, on January 7. “With hundreds of tickets sold, the promotional campaign and advertising underway, just three weeks before the premiere and without giving an opportunity to find a solution to the “unavoidable artistic needs,” the Royal Theater blocked the sale of tickets,” according to Puro Arte Humano, which represents Shen Yun Performing Arts in Spain. The Spanish group claims that “a week after the Royal Theater began to return the amount of tickets, without giving any explanation of the cancellation and without having announced on its website that the show had been canceled.”
A former Czech minister denounced the censorship of Shen Yun at the Royal Theater
Shen Yun visits the theaters of 150 cities in America, Asia and Europe every season, and “has been a victim of these boycott attempts in almost every city that visits,” according to Puro Arte Humano. The former Minister of Culture of the Czech Republic, Daniel Herman, condemned the censorship of that show in Madrid, stating that it is “absolutely unacceptable to be like a province of Beijing,” and denounced that Chinese diplomacy already tried to censor a representation of Shen Yun in the Prague National Theater in 2014 and also prevent the Dalai Lama’s visit to the Czech Republic in 2016, but the Czech government refused to bow to the pressures of the communist dictatorship. “The regime in China is a typical totalitarian regime. They want to monitor or control all the lives of that society,” Herman said. “For them, everything outside their control framework is dangerous.”
The strange media silence on these pressures of Chinese diplomacy
Strangely, only one Spanish newspaper, Abc, published news of what happened. Even stranger was that no Spanish media echoed the Czech former minister’s condemnation of that act of censorship, nor of his statements indicating that in Prague they had already suffered similar pressures to prevent that play. In addition, the digital newspaper The Epoch Times published the recording of a covert call in which an official of the Chinese Embassy in Spain recognized these pressures. The call revealed that Lyu Fan, the Chinese ambassador, “personally pressured the theater to cancel the contract with Shen Yun Performing Arts. By using the CCP’s control over the big Chinese market as an incentive, Lyu Fan and the theater director jointly planned to cancel the Shen Yun presentations under the pretext of technical difficulties,” according to Uphold Justice, an organization based in New York. Despite the evidence, no Spanish media echoed this news.
A theatrical company persecuted by Chinese communism in many countries
Leeshai Lemish, a member of Shen Yun, has registered on its website 73 attempts by Chinese diplomacy to censor Shen Yun shows since January 2007. Pressures have been exerted from the embassies and consulates of the communist dictatorship in the United States, South Korea, Canada, Finland, Czech Republic, Russia, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Romania, Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Ireland, Ukraine, Moldova, Greece, Italy, New Zealand, Belgium, Ecuador, Thailand, Israel and Spain. In some of these countries the pressures of Chinese communism have been reiterated. Before this year’s incident in Madrid, the previous censorship attempt was recorded in Tel Aviv in March 2018, when Shen Yun performed in Israel for the first time, specifically at the Tel Aviv Opera House. The Chinese Embassy tried to have the show canceled by contacting the director of the Opera House, the Tel Aviv City Council and the Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs. Failing to achieve their purpose, the Chinese diplomats tried to limit the promotion campaign of the show, directing letters to outdoor advertising companies to eliminate Shen Yun ads. No one yielded to the pressures of Chinese communism and the four Shen Yun shows in Israel sold out.
Shen Yun stages the attacks of the Chinese dictatorship on religious freedom
One of the reasons for the hatred of the Chinese dictatorship towards Shen Yun is that in some of its shows they stage the communist persecution of Falun Gong, a spiritual movement linked to Buddhism, of a peaceful nature and which is still around 70 million people. Because of its great growth and its spiritual message -which clashes with Marxist materialism-, in 1999 it was banned in China, under the accusation of being a “dangerous sect”. Thousands of Falun Gong members have been imprisoned, tortured and killed in the Asian country. Whatever Falun Gong is – I am Catholic and have no relation to that movement – I believe that the qualification of “dangerous sect” should be applied, rather, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the absolute owner of power political in that dictatorship, whose oppression and violence against the dissident yes that is typical of a sectarian group. Remember that the CCP prevents the normal exercise of religious freedom in communist China, a freedom that does exist, on the contrary, in the Republic of China, also known as Taiwan: the only territory in China where you can enjoy a true democracy. In Communist China, the great religions are subject and controlled by the State, including the Catholic. Chinese Catholics loyal to the Pope have been living underground for decades. The West should seriously rethink its relations with a totalitarian regime like that.
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