Trends to Watch
Based on events of the past two-plus years and ways in which the Chinese Communist Party’s persecution methods and strategies have evolved, the following are four key trends to watch, taking into consideration upcoming events including an ongoing COVID-19 outbreak and the 20th Party Congress in the fall.
Trend 1: Uptick in harassment, detention of Falun Gong practitioners as part of information controls surrounding COVID-19 lockdowns. The CCP’s security apparatus is already extremely anxious of Falun Gong practitioners being a source of uncensored information for people inside China and outside, and this may intensify as lockdowns, infections, and deaths increase should the Omicron outbreak in China spread. The worse the pandemic’s effects on Chinese society are, the harsher Falun Gong practitioners are likely to be treated due to their effective information network, especially amid food shortages, gas shortages, and general instability in society is caused by the CCP’s draconian response to COVID-19. The targeting of Falun Gong in this regards may be more likely in regions of northeastern China, like Jilin Province, where many Falun Gong practitioners reside and authorities have been especially brutal.
Trend 2: Increased persecution of Falun Gong ahead of politically sensitive dates, including the 20th Party Congress. For many years, China’s security apparatus has refocused its attention on local residents known to practice Falun Gong before or during politically sensitive dates or events. Falun Gong specific dates that are forthcoming include the 30th anniversary since Falun Gong’s founding on May 13, 2022, the 24th anniversary of the persecution on July 20, 2022, and the 25th anniversary of a large peaceful sit-in held in Beijing on April 25, 2023. The May 13 milestone of a 30th anniversary of Falun Gong’s spread in China may be particularly sensitive, as it serves as a stark reminder for the regime that former-leader Jiang’s goal of “eradicating Falun Gong within 3 months” has failed miserably.
Upcoming sensitive dates that are not specific to Falun Gong but are likely to result in intensified scrutiny, harassment, or detentions, are:
25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s hand-over July 1, 2022
20th Party Congress in the fall of 2022
Chinese New Year January 22, 2023
As early as February 2022, official websites were already announcing actions to closely monitor Falun Gong believers in preparation for the 20th Party Congress. On February 24, 2022, government delegates in Gansu Province met to “further strengthen the prevention and crackdown on Falun Gong” through increased censorship of online ideological positions and the guise of “safeguarding national security and political stability.” The goals were determined by delegates after they studied and followed in the footsteps of “Xi Jinping's thought on the rule of law” to create a Xi-approved “safe and stable political and social environment for the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.” Similar resolve and implementation are expected nationwide.
Trend 3: Disruption of demand-driven organ harvesting industry, if legislation adopted. If the United States Congress passes the Stop Forced Organ Harvesting bill, then China’s demand-driven organ harvesting industry would face disruptions. The legislation will
establish property-blocking and visa-blocking sanctions
prohibit exports of certain surgery devices to entities that are identified as being responsible for forced organ harvesting or related human trafficking, and
require the Department of State to report on these practices.
The legislation, if passed, would stymie transplant tourism and reduce the ability of U.S. businesses to supply medical equipment to Chinese transplant centers. Only once the money flow is stifled and surgeons are sanctioned, can the unethical organ harvesting of innocent prisoners of conscience like Falun Gong stop.
Trend 4: Ongoing or worsening transnational repression targeting Falun Gong and its supporters. According to the 610 Office’s internal documents, transnational repression of Falun Gong practitioners outside of China is a focal point of their strategy. In 2022, 2023, and 2024, this directive is expected to produce a framework of people, organizations, and governments to achieve this goal. Alongside potential new physical assaults on Falun Gong information booths, watch for emerging and covert tactics to slander Falun Gong, including attempts to plant demonizing articles in local media or to encourage foreign opinion leaders and media to echo the CCP’s anti-Falun Gong narratives, On the other hand, as democratic governments become more attuned to the threat and activities involved in transnational repression, watch for additional protection measures for communities like Falun Gong and even prosecutions of CCP agents active in countries like the United States.