Last night I went from Brussels to Louvain, to the Aula Magna Theatre, to see the Shen Yun Dance Show. This is a group of mostly expatriate Chinese performers who do classical and folkloric Chinese dance.
While there I had the privilege of meeting Mei Xuan, a virtuoso exponent of the Erhu, or Chinese violin. She gave a stunning performance, but her beautiful music hides a sad tale of human rights in China. The Shen Yun troupe is associated with the Falun Gong movement, a loose religious/philosophical movement which has enjoyed great success in China. Its adherents, calling themselves “practitioners”, perform a series of more-or-less traditional exercises in the style of Tai Chi. These adherents have a philosophy based on Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance.
While I am not myself an enthusiast for religious cults or practices, I am keen to defend the religious rights of others, and so far as I can see the principles and practice of Falun Gong are entirely harmless and benevolent. In particular, they do not seem to be political, or to represent any threat to the Chinese state or the Communist Party. Sadly, however, the Chinese government tends to regard any mass movement not entirely under its control as a threat, and there are widespread and well-documented reports from China of serious persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. I have met and talked to victims, and to those whose families have been victimised.
I greatly fear that Mei Xuan falls into this latter category. Her husband, also a Falun Gong adherent, simply “disappeared” in China a couple of months ago. She has heard nothing from him, and has not been able to get in touch.
As it happens, I expect to be in Beijing early in June, and I shall seek an opportunity to raise the question of Mei Xuan’s husband with any government officials I meet.