China’s Foreign Ministry calls a press conference in Beijing to tell Australia it should not welcome groups the CCP has declared “heretic.”
On April 11, 2019, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a press conference in Beijing that had few precedents in the history of Chinese diplomacy. Basically, the aim of the press conference was to tell Australia that, if a group has been labeled as “heretic” (xie jiao) by the CCP, foreign countries are expected not to welcome it or cooperate with it in any way.
The press conference originated from charges in Australian media that Chinese diplomats exerted pressures on the organizers of the Georges River Festival, one of the most popular public festivals in Sydney, telling them they should exclude the newspaper Vision China Times from the sponsors of the festival because it has ties with Falun Gong.
Vision China Times denied these ties, but this is not the most important aspect of the incident. In an incredible display of arrogance, Chinese diplomats in Beijing stated that Australian entities cannot co-operate with Falun Gong because “Falun Gong is a heretical cult” and “is openly banned by the Chinese government… The Chinese Consulate General warned the relevant country of the heretical nature of Falun Gong so that it won’t be misled or manipulated. It is completely legitimate and justifiable and has nothing to do with ‘interfering in internal affairs.’”
Actually, it is even worse than “interfering in internal affairs.” It is well-known that the CCP, an atheistic political party, claims it has the right to declare which religions are orthodox and which are heretical. Those branded as “heretical” end up in the list of the xie jiao and are severely persecuted. Now, the CCP goes one step further. It claims foreign governments should accept the CCP’s decision that a group is “heretical” and act consequently in their own countries.
While the Global Times, a newspaper that exists to applaud the Chinese government and the CCP no matter what, celebrated the incident as one where “China slams Australia’s untenable charges about Falun Gong,” Australian media ridiculed the Chinese authorities. And rightly so. The CCP should learn that modern democratic, secular States do not discriminate against “heretics.” They do not arrest, torture or kill them – China does. And certainly democratic states would not ask China who the “heretics” are.