Business as usual: the CCP is launching another massive international campaign of defamation, falsely blaming The Church of Almighty God for a multiple suicide.
by Massimo Introvigne
On July 28, 2019, during the second annual conference of the East Asian Society for the Scientific Study of Religion in Sapporo, Japan, American academic Holly Folk presented a paper on how the Chinese regime fabricates fake news to justify its persecution of religious movements it has banned as xie jiao (“heterodox teachings”), including Falun Gong and The Church of Almighty God (CAG). Folk described how the same scheme repeats itself time and again. Usually, a crime is really committed, either for reasons unrelated to religion or by small, comparatively unknown religious groups. After a few days or months, the CCP falsifies the narrative about the incident, claiming that one of the largest religious movements persecuted as xie jiao was responsible, and the fake news is passed from media to media both domestically and internationally. Several scholars share Professor Folk’s viewpoint, including the undersigned.
Folk mentioned her own research on the case of Guo Bin, a six-year-old boy who was kidnapped in August 2013 in Shanxi by a woman who gouged out his eyes. Months after the police had concluded that the crime was perpetrated by Guo Bin’s aunt for reasons unrelated to religion, CCP media started falsely implicating the CAG. Folk also quoted my own research on how the CCP successfully “sold” to international media the fake news that the CAG was responsible for the murder of a woman in 2014 in a McDonald’s diner in Zhaoyuan, Shandong. In fact, the crime was committed by a smaller religious movement not related to the CAG.
In July 2019, just while the conference was held in Sapporo, a new campaign of fake news against the CAG was being prepared. Probably, the CCP realized that continuously rehearsing its discredited version of the McDonald’s murder amounts to beating a dead horse. Something new was needed. An opportunity was offered by incidents that happened in Shenzhen, Guangdong, and Shangqiu, Henan, in May 2019.
On May 12, a woman known as Qian Limei committed suicide by jumping off a building in Shangqiu city in Henan Province. On May 13, Qian’s 19-year-old daughter and her boyfriend also tried to commit suicide but they had been sold counterfeit and ineffective rat poison and survived. This led to the macabre discovery of an apartment in Jinjing Garden, Luohu District, Shenzhen on the evening of May 21, where three bodies were stacked in a freezer. The three were Qian Limei’s 66-year-old father Qian Xude, his wife Huangfu Hongying, and his sister-in-law, Li Lanzhen. According to the police’s findings, Qian Xude suffered of severe illness and died of natural causes, while his wife and sister-in-law allegedly starved to death (fasting) at different periods of time. The hypothesis of a murder was explicitly excluded by the police, and no charges were filed, although who placed the bodies in the freezer remained unclear.
In July, the tragedy was reported by several media both in Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. They noted that the whole Qian family had a story of both family quarrels and health problems. Qian Xude had been quarreling with his wife after he had been diagnosed with Parkinson, and even planned to kill her with a rope and then commit suicide. His daughter suffered from serious gynecological problems. She believed the cause of her illness was that she was possessed, and said once she saw the face of her late aunt in a mirror. Qian Xude’s granddaughter was autistic.
As it happened in other cases, only several months after the incident, the CCP used it to attack and discredit the CAG. On October 17, The Beijing News, owned by the Beijing municipal Party Committee, and Southern Weekly, a well-known newspaper owned by the Guangdong CCP Committee, published lengthy articles, vigorously promoting this case. Based on alleged interviews with four villagers of the hamlet where the family used to live, the rather confused articles tried to connect the Shenzhen family suicide with the CAG. They falsely claimed that the victims were CAG members and tried to blame the CAG for the incident. On October 18, the following day, the fake news was republished by more than a dozen Chinese language media in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Malaysia, and is now rapidly becoming international.
According to Southern Weekly, Qian Xude had been a well-known Christian in Tangshan Street, in the Jiangning District of Nanjing, Jiangsu, and a member of Tangshan Church. He left the Three-Self Church in 1990 and started a career as an independent preacher. According to the article, Qian became what sociologists would call a “religious seeker,” and got in contact both with the Efficacious Spirit Teachings Movement (靈靈教 Lingling jiao) and the CAG. Qian’s and his family’s religious wanderings, however, were not confined to Christianity. His daughter also contacted a Spiritualist medium hoping to solve her health problems.
The article also mentions that Qian was convinced by his village fellows and converted to Oriental Everlasting Covenant (OEC, 東方永約，dongfang yongyue), another new religious movement founded by Wang Shuqin (female), who claimed that she herself was a prophet sent by God. He was told that some serious illness could be cured after conversion, and decided to join the group, although he may have left later. Wang claims to have received revelations from God teaching that China was once a peaceful, God-fearing kingdom called Shenzhou but in the last 2,500 years has been controlled by a Satanic dragon. God has now sent Wang herself as God latter-day prophet, to prepare the second coming of Jesus Christ that will happen in China.
On June 30, 2018, Qian Xude and his wife both participated in a ceremony where Qian formally severed the father-son relationship with his non-religious son Qian Liyong and became then part of a “tourist” party including the couple, their daughter Qian Limei, their granddaughter, and Qian Xude’s sister-in-law Li Lanzhen, which visited various parts of China until the tragic conclusion of their journey.
Qian Xude’s was a deeply dysfunctional family with serious health problems, wandering from one denomination to another, and from Christianity to Spiritualism. The CCP-connected media also tried to further defame the CAG by vaguely mentioned that people who left the CAG and joined another denomination or religion may be “punished,” misquoting CAG texts in connection with a case where the CCP police itself ruled out any possibility of foul play.
The obvious conclusion is that the tragedy of Qian Xude’s family had nothing to do with the CAG. It is, however, another piece of fake news in which the CCP shifted the blame for an unrelated incident to the CAG to justify its forthcoming arrests and persecution of CAG members. After the Zhaoyuan McDonald’s Murder happened in 2014, the CCP launched a “One-Hundred-Day Battle” arrest operation targeting the CAG. As a result, within half a year, thousands of CAG members were arrested, many of them were subjected to torture, some were persecuted to death, and hundreds of thousands CAG devotees were forced to flee home, unable to return. Other house churches have also been subjected to suppression. Bitter Winter will continue to report on what further actions the CCP will take after this fake news was issued.