The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) attempt at stifling free speech in Europe was exposed recently in Spain when a Shen Yun performance that was due to be conducted in Madrid’s Royal Theater on January 31, 2019, was cancelled. The theater owner was apparently pressured into taking the action by an official from the Chinese embassy.
The show cannot go on
Shen Yun performances include depictions of China’s true traditional culture and current situations brought about by the CCP. Apparently intimidated by it, the Party contacted the local embassy and asked officials to get the event canceled. Two weeks prior to the event, the theater announced that they had canceled the performance due to “technical difficulties.”
Several media reports raised the possibility of Chinese pressure. This made the U.S. branch of the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG) look into the matter, as the persecution is also portrayed in one of the performances.
One of the members of the organization contacted the Chinese embassy, posing as a top government official from China. A person who identified himself as Lu Fan, the Chinese ambassador to Spain, took the call and confirmed the hand of the CCP in stopping the event. An audio recording of the entire conversation was released by the organization on January 28.
“Lu Fan personally put pressure on the theater to cancel the contract with Shen Yun Performing Arts. By using the CCP’s control of the large Chinese market as enticement, Lu Fan and the theater’s director jointly planned to cancel the Shen Yun performances under the pretext of technical difficulties. The CCP’s embassy and the theater are worried that the incident would be learned by more people. After the incident was exposed by the Spanish media, they continue to discuss the countermeasures,” according to the WOIPFG report.
News of the cancellation upset theatergoers who were looking forward to seeing the Shen Yun performance live on stage. Some cried upon learning that they wouldn’t be able to see the performance, while others were visibly upset that they never received notification about the cancellation.
“Well, nothing like this has ever happened to us — and how excited we were to see it. I don’t know — we’re speechless… I don’t remember having received any notification of the cancellation, nor have I seen it on the press. Being a show of this caliber, I bought the best seats to get the best view and also because of my husband’s mobility condition,” Julieta Portillo, a ticket buyer, said to Eagle Nspirement.
China’s crusade against Shen Yun
The CCP’s attempts to get Shen Yun performances canceled is not something new. In Spain itself, there was a similar incident in 2014 when Chinese officials in Barcelona tried to get a Shen Yun performance at the National Theatre of Catalonia shut down.
Last year, the Chinese embassy in Denmark tried to ban a performance at the Royal Danish Theater. When news of the interference broke out, several Danish lawmakers expressed outrage at China’s attempts to stifle freedom in their country.
In Holland, two performances were due in May 2018. When media reported Chinese attempts to sabotage the event, the country’s foreign affairs ministry stated that the decision on whether to host the event or not was up to the theater venue. Not only did the theater, Nieuwe Luxor in Rotterdam, go ahead with the performance, but two additional shows were eventually scheduled in another city in Holland.
Translated as “the beauty of divine beings dancing,” Shen Yun is a premier Chinese classical dance company based out of New York. A wildly successful company, Shen Yun has six groups of performers that tour all around the world simultaneously, bringing 5,000 years of history to more than 150 theaters every year. Everywhere Shen Yun visits, the local Chinese Communist Party representatives try to block it. But the CCP fails more often than it succeeds.