Embassy warns diplomats of Falun Gong-linked stage show

THE CHINESE embassy in Dublin has circulated a letter to all foreign diplomatic missions in the city to “kindly remind” recipients…

THE CHINESE embassy in Dublin has circulated a letter to all foreign diplomatic missions in the city to “kindly remind” recipients not to attend a performance by a Falun Gong-linked performing arts company at the Grand Canal Theatre this weekend.

The New York-based Shen Yun company, due to perform two shows at the newly opened theatre tomorrow, bills its performances as a mix of traditional dance, mime and music. Most of the cast are members of the Falun Gong movement which is banned in China.

On the Grand Canal Theatre website, the show is described as “weaving a wondrous story of heavenly realms, enchanting dreams, and the classic struggle between good and evil . . . following the tragic erosion of traditional Chinese culture under decades of communist rule, [Shen Yun] endeavours to rediscover a lost artistic and cultural heritage”. According to reviews, the Shen Yun show also features scenes depicting the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners.

The Grand Canal Theatre website states that Shen Yun has performed to audiences totalling more than 800,000 people in 20countries across the world. This is its first show in Ireland.


Earlier this week, the Chinese embassy e-mailed a letter marked "urgent and important" to all embassies and consulates in Dublin. The letter, which has been obtained by The Irish Times, draws attention to Shen Yun's links with Falun Gong and describes the latter as an "illegal" group. "The embassy kindly reminds you not to attend the show," the letter, which was sent by ambassador Liu Biwei's secretary, states.

According to the Shen Yun website, the Dublin performances are presented by the Irish Falun Dafa (Gong) Association. All inquiries related to the shows are directed to an Irish e-mail address.

The Chinese government, which has branded Falun Gong a cult, outlawed the movement in 1999. Since then, thousands of its followers have been imprisoned in China.

A Chinese embassy spokeswoman said the embassy circulated the letter after discovering that Falun Gong had sent material, including invites to the Shen Yun show, to diplomatic missions in Dublin. “This group is totally against the Chinese government and this show is propaganda for the group,” she said.

“It is not a pure cultural experience, it is political . . . We wanted to remind [embassies] of our good relations and remind them not to attend the show.” In 2008, Shen Yun performed at the Royal Festival Hall in London. One theatre critic, writing in the Guardian newspaper, described the performances as “Disney-style propaganda”. In recent years, Chinese diplomats have put pressure on theatres and local authorities in other countries, including Sweden, in an attempt to prevent Shen Yun from performing.

A spokesman for the Grand Canal Theatre said it had not been approached by the Chinese embassy in relation to the shows. He declined to comment on the letter sent to foreign diplomatic missions in Dublin.