Volume 8, Issue 3, 2020
China, Religion, and Violence
James R. Lewis, Junhui Qin
Is Li Hongzhi a CIA Agent? Tracing the Funding Trail Through the Friends of Falun Gong
In 2000, Mark Palmer, one of the National Endowment for Democracy’s (NED’s) founders and Vice Chairman of Freedom House—an organization funded entirely by the U.S. Congress—founded a new government-supported group, Friends of Falun Gong (FoFG). By perusing FoFG’s annual tax filings, one discovers that FoFG has contributed funds to Sounds of Hope Radio, New Tang Dynasty TV, and the Epoch Times—all Falun Gong media outlets. FoFG has also contributed to Dragon Springs (a Falun Gong ‘compound’ that hosts a Falun Gong school and a residency complex) and to Shen Yun (a Falun Gong performance company), as well as to Falun Gong’s PR arm. In order to contextualize the U.S. government’s funding of Falun Gong, it will also be helpful to examine a handful of additional U.S. agency activities, such as the NED’s funding of Liu Xiaobo, the Hong Kong protests, and other China-related and Tibet-related groups.