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Beginning this Friday, the world's eyes will be focused on the Olympic games in China. No city community will be watching more closely and with more pride than Flushing's Chinese-Americans.
This will be a time for China to shine and the world to see the progress that has been made since the darkest days of the communist revolution. Although it is no democracy and human rights abuses still exist, China is enjoying economic growth and prosperity. There is hope that by opening the country to the Olympics, China will open the doors to free speech and political change.
Falun Gong, a vocal organization with a Flushing headquarters, has been demonstrating for years against China's communist government. Their demonstrations have been passionate but peaceful. Falun Gong is a spiritual group emphasizing physical exercises. Its members claim to have millions of followers in China. In the city, Falun Gong publishes a daily newspaper, The Epoch Times, and appears to be wealthy.
But not all Chinese-Americans are cheering. Yan Sun, a Queens College political science professor, maintains that Falun Gong is a fringe group with little following in mainland China.
Falun Gong has also circulated a petition asking for City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) and state Assemblywoman Ellen Young (D-Flushing) to be recalled because the group believes the electeds have not sufficiently addressed its concerns.
We question efforts to marginalize Falun Gong. It has conducted itself professionally and raises legitimate questions about the Chinese dictatorship. The strength of this organization here makes it hard to believe that it does not have a following in the mainland. It should be possible to cheer China's progress without turning a blind eye to ongoing abuses. Sun's assessment that Falun Gong is populated by "people who are usually not doing well" is strange. That is not our impression.
We hope the Olympics will be successful. We expect that for the next two weeks, hearts will be beating faster in Flushing. Chinese-Americans should take pride as television cameras focus on their homeland's culture and beauty. It should be possible to cheer the Olympics and Chinese while respecting the concerns raised by Falun Gong.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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