The rise & fall of Falun Gong: a cult grown by China’s government

Resources for understanding the rise and fall of Falun Gong, a cult promoted by the Chinese government which ultimately became the government’s enemy, and fights back today with propaganda.

Falun Gong emerged in China in 1992 as a qigong practice, and quickly gained widespread support throughout the population, thanks to enthusiastic support from the Chinese government. However, by 1999 it had become targeted by the Chinese government for suppression, and branded a cult.

Affairs, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World. “Dismantling Dehumanizing Propaganda Is Vital to Stopping Religious Persecution.” Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs, 16 March 2020.

Allen-Ebrahimian, Bethany. “The German Edition of the Falun Gong-Affiliated ‘Epoch Times’ Aligns with the Far Right.” ChinaFile, 23 September 2017.

Anderlini, Jamil. “China Seeks to Exorcise ‘Evil Cult’ It Invited In.” Financial Times, 10 June 2009.

Beaumont, Peter. “China’s Falun Gong Crackdown: ‘The Persecution Is Almost Underground.’” The Guardian, 18 July 2009, § World news.

Brown, Hayes. “The Epoch Times Really, Really Loves The Trump Administration.” BuzzFeed News, 24 October 2018.

Campbell, Eric, and Hagar Cohen. “When Anna Was 14, Her Mother Set up a ‘special Appointment’ with The Master.” Text. ABC News, 21 July 2020.

Chan, Cheris Shun-ching. “The Falun Gong in China: A Sociological Perspective.” The China Quarterly 179 (2004): 665–83.

Chen, Chiung Hwang. “Framing Falun Gong: Xinhua News Agency’s Coverage of the New Religious Movement in China.” Asian Journal of Communication 15.1 (2005): 16–36.

Cook, Sarah. “‘In July 1999, the CCP Created Exactly What It Had Feared.’” The Diplomat, 19 July 2019.

DeVillar, Robert A. “Chinese Scientific Socialism in Global Perspective: Geopolitical Implications for Latin America and the United States.” Journal of Emerging Knowledge on Emerging Markets 1.1 (2010).,

Farley, Helen. Evil Cult or Persecuted Minority? Conspiracy Theories Surrounding Falun Gong and the Government of the People’s Republic of China. Brill, 2018.,

Fish, Isaac Stone. “Footloose and Falun Gong.” Foreign Policy, 29 April 2015.

Ford, Caylan. “Tradition and Dissent in China:” (n.d.): 148.

Friend, John M., and Bradley A. Thayer. How China Sees the World: Han-Centrism and the Balance of Power in International Politics. U of Nebraska Press, 2018.

Gonzalez-Vicente, Ruben. “The Empire Strikes Back? China’s New Racial Sovereignty.” Political Geography 59 (2017): 139–41.

Hahn, J. “Shen Yun: The Falun Gong Cult’s Anti-Communist Propaganda Roadshow.” People’s World, 11 February 2022.

Heidelberger, Cory Allen. “Shen Yun Dancers Promote Pro-Trump Falun Gong Propaganda?” Dakota Free Press, 24 January 2022.

Hinden, Adam. “Does China Have Indigenous Peoples?” (n.d.): 6.

Hioe, Brian. “Criticisms Of DSA By Falun Gong Out Of Aligning With Right-Wing Forces To Oppose China.” New Bloom Magazine, 30 September 2018.

Hune-Brown, Nicholas. “The Traditional Chinese Dance Troupe China Doesn’t Want You to See.” The Guardian, 12 December 2017, § News.

Hurley, Ben. “Me and Li.” Medium, 19 April 2018.

———. “The ABC Is Right: Falun Gong Has Some Dangerous Teachings.” ABC Religion & Ethics, 8 August 2020.

Jacobs, Andrew. “China Still Presses Crusade Against Falun Gong.” The New York Times, 28 April 2009, § World.

Jiang, Xinyan. “Chinese Dialectical Thinking—the Yin Yang Model” (2013).

Lee, Raymond. “Han Nationalism in China.” Al Jazeera Centre for Studies, 20 March 2014.

Lemish, Leeshai. “Why Is Falun Gong Banned?” New Statesman, 9 June 2021.

Leung, Beatrice. “China and Falun Gong: Party and Society Relations in the Modern Era.” Journal of Contemporary China 11.33 (2002): 761–84.

Lewis, James R. “Danceageddon: Following the Money Trail Behind Shen Yun’s Revised Eschatology.” Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review 11.1 (2020): 11–33.

Lim, Jason. “‘A Tolerant Society Is the Way Forward’: Exposing Chinese Chauvinism in Singapore, 1959–1979.” Translocal Chinese: East Asian Perspectives 15.1 (2021): 67–92.

Lin, Anastasia. “Opinion | How I Learned to Stop Hating Falun Gong.” WSJ, 18 July 2019.

Loucaides, Darren, and Alessio Perrone. “The Media Giant You’ve Never Heard of, and Why You Should Pay Attention.” OpenDemocracy, 10 March 2022.

Lowe, Scott. “Chinese and International Contexts for the Rise of Falun Gong.” Nova Religio 6.2 (2003): 263–76.

Marsh, Jenni. “China Says It Has a ‘zero-Tolerance Policy’ for Racism, but Discrimination towards Africans Goes Back Decades.” CNN, 26 May 2020.

Meyer, Patrick. “Could Chinese Chauvinism Turn the ‘Chinese Dream’ into a ‘Chinese Nightmare’? | EastWest Institute.” East West.Ngo, 10 June 2016.

News, VICE. “Inside the Falun Gong Disinformation Machine.” Vice, 7 August 2021.

Noakes, Stephen, and Caylan Ford. “Managing Political Opposition Groups in China: Explaining the Continuing Anti-Falun Gong Campaign.” The China Quarterly 223 (2015): 658–79.

Nyabiage, Jevans. “Inquiry into Malawi Children Video Spurs China to Crack down on Racism.” South China Morning Post, 16 June 2022.

Ownby, David. “The Creation and Evolution of Qigong.” Page 0 in Falun Gong and the Future of China. Edited by David Ownby. Oxford University Press, 2008.,

———. “The Falun Gong in the New World.” European Journal of East Asian Studies 2 (2003): 303–20.

Palmer, David A. Qigong Fever: Body, Science, and Utopia in China. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007.

Penny, Benjamin. “Falun Gong in Song and Dance.” Pages 119–36 in Globalizing Asian Religions. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Amsterdam University Press, 2019.,

Pomfret, John, and Michael Laris. “Washingtonpost.Com: China Special Report.” Washington Post, 23 July 1999.

Porter, Noah. “Falun Gong in the United States: An Ethnograophic Study,” n.d.

Roose, Kevin. “How The Epoch Times Created a Giant Influence Machine.” The New York Times, 24 October 2020, § Technology.

Shamsian, Jacob. “Shen Yun Posters Are Everywhere — Here’s Everything You Need to Know about the Mysterious Show and the ‘cult’ behind It.” Insider, 3 April 2009.

Sharpe, M. E., trans. “Brief Biography of Li Hongzhi: Founder of Falun Gong and President of the Falun Gong Research Society.” Chinese Law & Government 32.6 (1999): 14–23.

Silverman, Craig. “A YouTube Network Sprang Up To Pump Out Pro-Trump Misinformation After He Lost.” BuzzFeed News, 9 January 2021.

Tategal, Justin. “The Dark Propaganda Strategy behind Falun Gong’s Media Group.” Cleveland, OH Patch, 27 May 2020.

Tolentino, Jia. “Stepping Into the Uncanny, Unsettling World of Shen Yun.” The New Yorker, 19 March 2019.

Tone, Sixth. “China’s ‘Anti-Sissy’ Campaign Unleashes a Wave of Online Transphobia.” #SixthTone, 24 February 2022.

Wilson, Jason. “Falun Gong-Aligned Media Push Fake News about Democrats and Chinese Communists.” The Guardian, 30 April 2021, § US news.

Xu, Jianhua, Guyu Sun, Wei Cao, Wenyuan Fan, Zhihao Pan, Zhaoyu Yao, and Han Li. “Stigma, Discrimination, and Hate Crimes in Chinese-Speaking World amid Covid-19 Pandemic.” Asian J Criminol 16.1 (2021): 51–74.

Zhang, Xinzhang, and James R. Lewis. “The Gods Hate Fags: Falun Gong’s Reactionary Social Teachings.” Journal of Religion and Violence (2021).,

“Falun Gong.” Chineseposters.Net, n.d.

“Information Fantasies – Journal #96 January 2019 – e-Flux,” n.d.

“The Origin of Falun Gong Issue.” Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China in Auckland, 2 September 2009.

The Power of Falun Gong. Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2020.

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