The Falun Gong (法轮功 fǎlún gōng) spiritual movement has been banned in China since 1999, when its adherents made the ill-advised decision to hold a mass protest in the heart of Beijing.
Since that time, the movement has thrived abroad, as has its spiritual leader, Li Hongzhi 李洪志. Li and many of his followers are based in the U.S., where the Falun Gong–affiliated Epoch Times is ubiquitous on newsstands, providing wide-ranging normal news coverage along with anti-Communist and pro-Falun Gong editorial stances.
ChinaFile reports that the Epoch Times’ German edition, Epoch Times Deutschland, has gone in a markedly different editorial direction in the past couple of years. The German edition has:
- Promoted anti-immigrant views.
- Cast doubt on mainstream media reliability.
- Been largely uncritical of the anti-immigrant party AfD, which just became the first far-right group to enter Germany’s parliament since 1961.
- Produced articles that have been shared en masse on social media by anti-immigrant protest group Pegida.
ChinaFile remarks that it is unclear where the new editorial slant of the German outlet came from, but there is no doubt it has been commercially successful. As Germany’s anti-immigrant sentiment increased, Epoch Times Deutschland’s website traffic spiked up to 4 million in January 2016, from 1.7 million a year before.
But there is another possibility that can’t be ruled out: that the racist views of Falun Gong leader Li Hongzhi — who has previously called mixed-raced children “pitiable” and “physically and intellectually incomplete,” ChinaFile points out — have found a convenient outlet in the anti-immigrant fervor of part of German society.
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China’s biggest North Korea taboo: Discussing life after Kim / Bloomberg
Trump thanks China for help on North Korea, claims diplomacy is working / Washington Post (paywall)
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross praises China’s ‘gigantic’ step on North Korea / CNBC
BBC deletes dubious article describing Uighurs as ‘Eastern European Muslims’ from ‘Xinxiang’ / Shanghaiist