US media is reporting on the Epoch Times a pro-Trump news outlet said to be closely tied to the Chinese opposition spiritual movement known as the Falun Gong. According to an NBC news report:
August 20 2020 By the numbers, there is no bigger advocate of President Donald Trump on Facebook than The Epoch Times. The small New York-based nonprofit news outlet has spent more than $1.5 million on about 11,000 pro-Trump advertisements in the last six months, according to data from Facebook’s advertising archive — more than any organization outside of the Trump campaign itself, and more than most Democratic presidential candidates have spent on their own campaigns. Those video ads — in which unidentified spokespeople thumb through a newspaper to praise Trump, peddle conspiracy theories about the “Deep State,” and criticize “fake news” media — strike a familiar tone in the online conservative news ecosystem. The Epoch Times looks like many of the conservative outlets that have gained followings in recent years. But it isn’t. Behind the scenes, the media outlet’s ownership and operation is closely tied to Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual community with the stated goal of taking down China’s government. It’s that motivation that helped drive the organization toward Trump, according to interviews with former Epoch Times staffers, a move that has been both lucrative and beneficial for its message. Read the rest here:
The Oxford Research Encyclopedia explains the Falun Gong as follows:
Falun Gong (FLG) is a Qi Gong group that entered into conflict with the Chinese state around the turn of the 21st century, and gradually transformed into a political movement. Qi Gong, in turn, is an ancient system of exercises that has been compared to yoga. Falun Gong was founded in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) by Li Hongzhi (LHZ) in 1992, in the latter part of what has been termed the Qi Gong “boom.” As the leadership of the PRC became increasingly critical of the traditional folk religion and superstition that was emerging within some of the Qi Gong groups, Li Hongzhi and his family emigrated to the United States. From the safety of his new country of residence, LHZ directed his Chinese followers to become increasingly confrontational, eventually staging a mass demonstration in front of government offices in Beijing on April 25, 1999. The movement was subsequently banned.
The GIOR also reported today that Facebook has removed a huge network of real and fake accounts associated with the Falun Gong movement over violations against its foreign interference policy.
The New York Times describes the Epoch Times as follows:
The Epoch Times is one of the most mysterious fixtures of the pro-Trump media universe. It was started 20 years ago as a print newspaper by practitioners of Falun Gong, the persecuted Chinese spiritual practice. In recent years, the paper has made inroads into top Republican circles. Mr. Trump and his advisers have shared Epoch Times articles on their social media accounts, and last year, Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law, sat for an interview with an Epoch Times editor. Representative Paul Gosar, a Republican from Arizona, called it “our favorite paper.”
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