The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is pressuring local officials to shut down Shen Yun performances in Mexico, according to reports.
China’s communist government is seeking to block the performances by ramping up pressure via local Chinese embassies.
A New York-based performing arts company on a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture on the world stage.
However, it has continued to find itself the target of the regime’s long-arm interference campaign.
Beginning as early as 2006 at its inception, Shen Yun Performing Arts has had to confront a range of ploys orchestrated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), from applying diplomatic pressure on host theaters and governments to running state media-backed ad campaigns, that are designed to thwart or sabotage its annual world tour.
This time, with Shen Yun’s performance seeking to depict “China before communism,” the CCP’s sabotage activities have followed the company to Mexico, where two weeks of performances in five cities are set to begin in less than a week’s time.
Chinese Embassy officials have reached out to Mexican officials in at least three cities through letters, emails, phone calls, or messages on social media, according to documents and details shared with The Epoch Times.
After initially making contact on Instagram with the mayor’s office of the central Mexican city of Santiago de Querétaro, the Chinese Embassy in Mexico sent a round of emails and letters in an attempt to add pressure.
“Falun Dafa Association Mexico … will organize a tour of ‘Shen Yun’ in the Teatro Metropolitano in Querétaro on May 10th and 11th of this year, an event to which the Chinese part firmly opposes,” Zhao Heng, an embassy attache, wrote in a May 4 email to the agenda coordinator for the Querétaro government, Alma Izaguirre, a copy of which was obtained by The Epoch Times.
Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa, is a spiritual practice originating in China in the 1990s, composed of meditative exercises and moral teachings based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.
It was immensely popular at the time until the Chinese regime, perceiving its vast following as a threat, moved to systematically root out the faith by launching a sweeping persecution against its adherents.
Millions of adherents have been detained by the regime in facilities where they are subjected to slave labor, torture, indoctrination, as well as forced organ harvesting.
The over-two-decade-long persecution of the spiritual group has been depicted in segments of Shen Yun’s productions over the years.
Zhao in the email asked if the Chinese Embassy could send a “note,” through email or other means, to the city government to explain “what Falun Dafa and the Shen Yun tour are.”
“[W]e request to the Local Government of Querétaro to take the necessary measures to prohibit the ‘Shen Yun’ events to avoid the Mexican People to be deceived and taken advantage of,” Zhao said
The city’s authorities contacted the local presenters of Shen Yun after receiving the letter to hear their side of the story.
The email turned out to be the beginning of a multi-day effort on the part of the Chinese embassy to influence Mexican authorities and theaters.
One day later, the Chinese Embassy followed up with a six-page letter to the city, in both Chinese and Spanish, titled “note to Querétaro,” asking Querétaro to ban Shen Yun from performing in the city.
Shen Yun is set to run two performances at Querétaro’s Teatro Metropolitano on May 10 and May 11, marking the fourth time the company will perform at the venue after a pandemic year pause. The company this year was invited by the city mayor who attended the 2019 show.
The two performances are on track to have a full house, according to the local organizers.
“People in Querétaro love Shen Yun,” Carlos Guzman, a member of the Falun Dafa Association in Mexico, the local Shen Yun presenter, told The Epoch Times.
“A large percentage of people” who bought tickets to Shen Yun’s 2020 show, which was ultimately canceled due to the pandemic, kept their tickets instead of refunding it with the expectation of seeing the performance when the company returned, he said.
Attaching a schedule of the performances, the embassy said that the “Chinese side is gravely concerned” that the event is taking place, according to a copy of the May 5 letter obtained by The Epoch Times.
Some segments of the show “attack the Chinese government,” claims the letter, which bears a red seal of the embassy. The Chinese Embassy reminded Querétaro of the 50-year-old diplomatic relations between Mexico and China, asserting that the Shen Yun performances would undermine such a friendship.
“The Chinese Embassy in Mexico earnestly request the Querétaro government to take necessary steps to ban Shen Yun from being hosted in the city and remind Querétaro officials of all levels, council members, scholars, and reporters to keep their distance,” the letter read.
While the Chinese embassy didn’t specify which particular segments drew its ire, Guzman believes it has something to do with Falun Gong’s values.
“Falun Dafa promotes three important pillars: truth, compassion, and tolerance, but it seems that the Chinese consulate and the Chinese embassy are on the other side,” he said. “While Falun Dafa promotes truth, they promote lies.”
The Chinese regime’s pressure came just as its practice of forced organ harvesting, one of the worst abuses targeting Falun Gong adherents, attracted growing scrutiny in Europe.
The European Parliament on May 5 adopted a resolution to mark “serious concern about reports of persistent, systematic, inhumane and state-sanctioned organ harvesting from prisoners in China, and more specifically from Falun Gong practitioners.”
Josep Borrell, the EU’s top diplomat, in prepared remarks on May 4 said the EU “condemns in the strongest possible terms the criminal, inhumane and unethical practice of forced organ harvesting.”
The Chinese officials’ interference didn’t stop in Querétaro, as the Shen Yun presenters soon found out. After hearing about the Querétaro episode, Maru Ruano, a spokesperson for the Falun Dafa Association in Mexico who is overseeing Shen Yun’s Mexico City tour, quickly made a call to the Auditorio Nacional, the venue Shen Yun will perform at from May 13. The theater told her the embassy had called them two weeks ago to have the show canceled.
The theater refused the embassy outright, telling them “they were going to continue with the shows as they had been scheduled from the beginning,” according to Ruano.
They said “the auditorium always had the doors open for this type of shows,” Ruano told The Epoch Times.
Audiences at the auditorium voted Shen Yun as one of the best live performances presented in Mexico for two years in a row in 2018 and 2019.
“When I asked them why they had not told me, they told me that I had nothing to worry about because this is solved.
The auditorium has a firm position to continue with the show as we have had in previous years,” said Ruano.
San Luis Potosi’s mayor also received an email from the Chinese Embassy asking the city not to promote two scheduled performances on May 17 and May 18, according to the local presenter.
The secret to Shen Yun’s success in spite of Beijing’s persistent pressure lies in the message it brings to people, according to Guzman.
“Shen Yun presents what China would be like if communism did not exist and presents a show where they show you … all that culture that was literally annihilated by the Chinese communist party,” he said.
Ruano believes the Chinese sabotage activities will not succeed in Mexico.
“We are a free country and we have freedom of expression,” she said.