Falun gong

Sectarian religion
As China ‘marketized’ its economy, opened to the outside world, and revised its national constitution in the interval between 1980 and 1986, there were several ‘fevers’ (re) or popular cultural enthusiasms that possessed urban residents (see crazes). Two of the more salient of these fevers were those of wenhua (culture) and Qigong (breath practice). Their contagiousness in two different political contexts a decade apart (1989 and 1999) would lead to appalling government repression, the effects of which continue to colour the international perception of China.
Falun gong (Dharma-Wheel Practice) or Falun dafa (Great Method of the Dharma Wheel) was introduced in 1991.
It swiftly became the most prominent (and infamous) of a phalanx of Qigong movements—Zhong Gong, Qing Yang, Tian Tang Baolian, Guo Gong, Cibei Gong, Dayan gong—that emerged and prospered in this era of national ‘Qigong frenzy’ (see Qigong (history)). All are now banned by the Chinese government, following a nationwide crackdown in July 1999 on such groups for their propagation of mixin (superstition), and, more tellingly, their violation of the state’s Law on Assembly, Procession and Demonstration. It is this combustible confluence of religion and politics and its widespread social appeal that makes Falun gong an especially productive site from which to observe the manifold changes of contemporary Chinese life.
By the late 1990s the nation’s passion for self-healing emerged alongside an arc of cultural revival inscribed from city to countryside. The revival included the reconstruction of temples and lineage halls, the copying of scriptures, the conducting of exorcisms, the performance of divination, and the appearance of spirit-mediums. Falun gong boasted a following of more than 70 million in China and a grand total of 100.........

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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