By Charlotte Cuthbertson and Sarah Matheson
|Mar 12, 2008|
PRAGUE, Czech Republic—The Chinese Embassy has been caught out sending letters to both the largest television station in the Czech Republic and politicians, asking them not to attend the Chinese Spectacular.
They were also caught funding a front-page ad in a local Chinese newspaper, warning Chinese people not to attend the show.
Since the New York-based Divine Performing Arts company came into being in 2004, there have been numerous attempts by the Chinese communist regime, through its embassies and consulates, to interfere with the production in various ways.
The Chinese Spectacular, which is touring globally, showcases the 5000 years of ancient Chinese culture, and the performers are said to be "leading a cultural renaissance".
Many people are attributing the two performances depicting persecution of Falun Gong by the Chinese regime as a key reason for the interference. Others say it is due to the display of spiritual practices found in China's history, including Buddhism, Daoism, Falun Gong and Confucianism. The show also encompasses other ethnic dance, such as Tibetan, Mongolian, Uyghur and Korean.
TV Station Exposes Interference
In Prague, the embassy's attempts to interfere with the show backfired after the host of a popular morning show revealed the letter the station had received to the entire country while interviewing two of the show's performers.
Audience members at the Prague Spectacular shows were upset by news of the embassy's attempted interference. Mr. Hejduk, an economist who worked as a diplomat in China in 1966 said he enjoyed the show very much. "The dancers were of the top class."
He remembers the Cultural Revolution: "I was in China forty years ago during the Cultural Revolution. I cried when I saw how the Mao Zedong's guards ware destroying all the Chinese historical heritage."
He said China has a great history and the whole world has learned from it.
Susanna Hrotkova works at an education company in Prague. She said the embassy wanted to stop people from seeing Chinese history.
"They had the Cultural Revolution in China for the purpose of getting rid of all China's previous traditions and values. They were against all culture; they wanted people to dress the same as everybody else.
She said the Spectacular is completely the opposite: "It is so colorful and very nice." "I guess that the current Chinese government doesn't like good, traditional things," she said.
Global Interference Continues
This is not the first time Chinese embassies have attempted to interfere with Divine Performing Arts' shows and letters from local embassies are common before the performers reach a country.
Politicians, performers, and venues around the world have reported receiving letters or phone calls urging them not to support the Spectacular. Last year, every Federal MP in Australia was contacted by the embassy.
Lawyer Ladislav Vondrak was also saw the show in Prague on Tuesday. He said he was disappointed by the Chinese Embassy actions.
"I think it's a huge pity also for China itself, because Chinese culture is part of the China itself, it is important for the country itself."
Exhibition and fair organizer Daniela Fikejsova agreed, "It's very bad and we will hope the next year will be different."
She said the show was beautiful and she enjoyed it very much. "I was attracted the most by the scenes from nowadays, where they had to prove their bravery by facing the regime."
Audience Praises Falun Gong Performances
English teacher Petra Monaghan enjoyed the contemporary performances depicting the persection of Falun Gong. She said the behaviour of the Chinese embassy was "very sad".
"I don't see why they [embassy] should do that [interfere]. You know, people want to...teach...a little bit about Truth, about Compassion, so I don't think they have a reason to stop this," she said.
Dagmar Kubovicova, an attorney, spoke of the dance 'The Risen Lotus Flower', in which two female Falun Gong practitioners have a vision after their friend has been beaten to death by policemen.
"I felt something in all of the scenes. It was very touching. It was cleansing. If every human would believe in the Falun Gong principles [Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance] a little bit, they would live a better life."
Consultant Nils Eklund enjoyed the performances that depicted China's human rights violations.
"The criticism was just in the right tone. I think that this performance happened at the right time, just about at the eve of the Olympic Games in Beijing. This is very, very good."
Jan Šinágl, a well-known activist and journalist in the Czech Republic, said he is fighting for freedom and democracy in a post-communist society.
"We must do something to help the China. I mean internationally to help for freedom, democracy and human rights."
He said trying to interfere with the Spectacular has gone against the principles of democracy.
"It's very against democracy, something to state in our country. Because we are free and no one should to me to say you did it or you do not do it."
"It is very bad about human rights, and economy and business should not be on the first place."
A man, who did not want to be named to protect his Chinese friends, was not surprised that the embassy tried to stop the Spectacular .
"It is easy to understand after seeing even the first half. You know I was brought up during the communist regime here and many features criticised or actually echoed from the performance is closely known to me. From the past."
He said highlighting the persecution and human rights abuses in China is a very important.