Wong Ling Soong is one of the directors of the UK Falun Gong movement and a committed Falun Gong practitioner. The Falun Gong is a controversial movement of people that practices exercises similar to Qigong and Taiqi. The Chinese government has banned them as a cult.
From Shanghai, he now practices medicine in the UK. He mentioned the difficulties his parents have in accepting his links with the Falun Gong, which they themselves practiced before the government outlawed the movement.
He showed two videos which explained a little of the theory behind the Falun Gong, but concentrated more on the repression of the movement in China and its continuance abroad. Many shots were shown of mass practice sessions in US cities, and many American practitioners were interviewed on the benefits they had obtained from practicing Falun Gong. Mr Soong strongely reaffirmed the videos' line on the nature of Falun Gong; that it is purely a form of holistic exercise beneficial to health and in no way political.
However the videos strongly conveyed a political feeling. Attention was drwan to the plight of Falun Gong practitioners who had taken part in mass exercise sessions in China's cities, most notably in Tian'anmen square. These exercises/protests flared up after the Falun Gong had been banned by the Chinese government in mid-1999. Whether the Chinese government's claims that Falun Gong practitioners refuse medicine and that 400 deaths have come about as a result have any truth in them remains uncertain.
Questions at the end revealed that several of the audience were unsatisfied as to the apolitical nature of Falun Gong. Mr Soong although clearly an enthusiastic practitioner and indignant at the Chinese government's crackdown seemed unwilling to discuss the possibility that the Falun Gong movement has transcended its original meaning for some Chinese, and has become a means of political expression in the democratic vacuum that exists in China. The Chinese government certainly takes this innocuous movement seriously enough to see it as a threat.
Others wanted to know more about the actual practice of Falun Gong and the ethos behind it. Mr Soong ran through the principles of 'Zhen'(truth), 'Shan'(kindness) and 'Ren'(forbearance) but did not elaborate further, referring us to the literature he had brought with him.
(summary by Kate Mulrenan)