One day last week the way into Victoria tube station was clogged with people, and once I finally got to the entrance the gates were shut in my face. They do this occasionally when the station gets so full that there’s an imminent prospect of people being shoved off the platforms and onto the track. It can be some time before they re-open, so it wasn’t worth waiting. As I trudged off wearily in the general direction of the office, more or less reconciled to being late, this publication was thrust at me. I have the old commuter’s instinctive tendency to ignore everyone in my path, especially those who are trying to give or sell me something, but for once, perhaps because of the depressing circumstances, I took it.
You may have seen something like it: apparently versions of it are published all over the world. It looks pretty much like a normal newspaper, and many of the articles are straightforward, readable stuff: they may seem a little underpowered somehow, and the cartoons are profoundly unfunny, but it’s not like picking up the ‘Invest in Zambia!” pull-out supplement by mistake. However, a slightly closer examination reveals a special interest in the affairs of China, and a distinctly negative view of the government of the People’s Republic. In fact, the thing is published by Falun Gong.
Falun Gong is like an exercise system with mystical ambitions. Once well-favoured in China, it is now proscribed: some say that the Chinese government is especially sensitive about it because of the precedents in Chinese history for rebellions led by religious sects.
What strikes one most forcibly, though, is what a colossal waste of money and effort the newspaper represents. Of the commuters streaming past, I suppose one in ten took a copy. I should guess no more than half of those read any of it. Perhaps one in ten of those read the articles on Chinese issues: and probably one in a hundred of those changed their opinion. Not even one in a thousand (if there were that many) wrote to their MP or did anything else about it. Net impact on UK and world politics, zero. One of my colleagues probably typifies the general response – when he saw me with my copy he told me he hadn’t taken one because he thought it was produced by the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
If anything, the covert manner of operation embodied in the paper is likely to alienate people, and the vast resources expended in producing it raise suspicions. The journalists involved would surely do better to work as freelances and offer straight pieces on Falun Gong and its problems to mainstream publications wouldn’t they?
Original text from: http://www.facts.org.cn/puop/201108/t133081.htm