A film with bizarre lies against our magazine was presented months ago in Brussels. It is now promoted all over China.
by Massimo Introvigne
In a way, I am sorry there is a second version of the Chinese propaganda movie “The ‘Bitter Winter’ of Belief: Sneaking Cults.” When it was originally screened in Brussels to some twenty people last June, and introduced by notorious CCP fellow traveler Roland Delcourt, it had more footage of my favorite character, a “former member of Bitter Winter” (whatever this might mean) who looked like a Russian villain from an old James Bond movie. Instead, a long tirade about the anti-Unification-Church campaign in Japan following the assassination of Shinzo Abe has been included.
The short documentary was reportedly directed by an otherwise unknown Russian filmmaker called Natalia Bashirian, and the Chinese assure us that it has won awards in the more or less existing “Halicarnassus Film Festival, Nicomedia Film Awards, Future Of Film A Wards, Art Blocks international Film Festival, Direct Monthly Online Film Festival and many other film festivals as the winner of the best documentary short film and was given high praise.”
I believed the film was deservedly forgotten but starting on December 20, it has been relaunched by the China Anti-Xie-Jiao Association, which prides itself to be the largest anti-cult association in the world, to be screened in China, and I found it is promoted even in remote Inner Mongolia.
Apart from a laundry list of accusations against “cults,” CESNUR, “Bitter Winter,” and the undersigned collected from the web and put together without checking the sources nor giving them any rational order, there are two accusations about COVID-19. They are so ridiculously false that they confirm the Chinese propaganda film was hastily produced by low-level operatives.
The first states that “cult groups such as ‘Bitter Winter’ are still preaching that Believing in God [sic] and you will not be infected by the virus.” Apart that we are a magazine, not a religious organization or a “cult,” we never wrote anything remotely similar. Rather than simply “believing in God,” I was vaccinated four times and respected all the recommended precautions. So did all my colleagues who work at “Bitter Winter,” whose office was closed during the various Italian lockdowns. By the way, the film states that “Bitter Winter” has a staff of some 100 workers. We would like it to be true, but we are only five.
The second bizarre accusation is that “Bitter Winter” “argued that the COVID-19 pandemic is a trial of infectious disease imposed on all mankind by Yang Xiangbin, the founder of the CAG [Church of Almighty God],” perhaps as a punishment for the persecution of the CAG in China. Of course, we never supported nor divulged this theory.
The film also gives the impression that “Bitter Winter” mostly deals with the CAG. Since the CAG, together with Falun Gong, is the most persecuted religious group in China, certainly we do report about it. However, a simple perusal of our indexes would reveal that in 2022 and 2023 we have published more than 1,500 articles, of which 8 (eight) deal with the CAG.
We understand that the Chinese regime is mightily disturbed by “Bitter Winter.” If it wants to attack us effectively, however, we suggest it hires disinformation operatives a little bit more skilled than Natalia Bashirian or Roland Delcourt.