When I ask mr. Chen about the cultural differences between the Chinese and Taiwanese, he gives me a simple explanation,
“The Taiwanese have gods, the Chinese have communists.”
He adds that many religious groups have been banned in China, often out of fear that their influence could affect the stronghold of the Communist Party.
“China is afraid of religion. Where would they find the time for it anyway? A new country had to be built after the revolution, and since the introduction of capitalism, they’ve been too busy with making money.”
One of the outlawed religions is Falun Gong, a spiritual practice that combines the moralistic underpinnings of Buddhism and Taoism with meditation and qigong. Falun Gong developed into one of the biggest movements in China in the 1990’s, but became banned as it grew too big. Many practitioners ended up in labor camps and prisons, while others have fled to places including Taiwan. Chinese tourists are warned for its practitioners in China, as the practitioners often bombard them with flyers and preachings. The warnings had an opposite effect, however. Falun Gong practitioners have become an infamous sight, and many tourists take Falun Gong flyers home as souvenir.
Published in NRC. next, Dutch national newspaper