FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Russia, China and Anti-Gay Bigotry

For readers seeking insight into the atavistic creepiness of the institutionalized anti-LGBT bigotry of the Russian state—which is eliciting calls to boycott the Sochi Winter Olympics–I refer readers to an article I wrote in 2011 and updated in 2012 on Vladimir Putin’s efforts to position himself as the champion of Russian Orthodox religious conservatives (thereby provoking the Pussy Riot provocation in a Moscow church).

Putin, therefore, can rely on his ability to summon up mobs of religious reactionaries as well as rabid nationalists to defend his regime against the West-backed opposition.

In the compare-and-contrast field, the Chinese Communist Party has been rather successful in playing the nationalist card against Japan and the United States.  However, in the religion arena, its woes are rather well documented, including the long-standing adversarial relationship between the Christian house church movement and the regime.

And gay-bashing is not on the official agenda.

In striking contrast to the Russian faux pas, the Chinese state media had rolled out a gay-supportive official initiative in 2007 prior to its Olympics to promote a “smiling China” vibe and blunt U.S. criticisms of the PRC’s human rights transgressions.

As Lily Kuo reported at Quartz, the effort continues today:

Yesterday (Aug. 13) marked Chinese Valentine’s Day, also known as the Qixi Festival. Though it’s a traditional holiday that celebrates romance dating back to the Han dynasty, it’s now becoming a rallying point for China’s small but growing gay-rights movement.  Yesterday, a gay couple kissing in Beijing was greeted by cheers.  A video of a 90-year-old grandmother (paywall) in Fuzhou province explaining her support of her gay 28-year-old grandson has been circulating the internet. State media Xinhua declared in a headline, “Chinese Valentine’s, our gay day!” (Xinhua’s Chinese edition led with a more toned down headline: “More Chinese guys [sic] openly celebrate Qixi“)

A  pro-gay stance has helped the PRC in dealing with the overseas manifestation of one of its most pressing religious headaches, Falun Gong, the esoteric syncretic qigong “spiritual practice” (to its entry-level devotees) or, according to critic Rick Ross, a cult demanding on absolute loyalty to its charismatic founder, Li Hongzhi, by its upper-level leaders.

In 1999, Jiang Zemin ordered the suppression of the Falun Gong spiritual practice movement after it displayed its ability and willingness to organize in defense of its beliefs by mustering 10,000 followers in Tiananmen Square to object to the arrest of 45 practitioners in Tianjin publically protesting negative portrayals of FLG in the official media, thereby raising the possibility that the group could serve as a Solidarity-type vehicle for political protest with a religious gloss.

The US has played a discrete and limited role in keeping this obscurantist cult chugging along outside the PRC.  Li Hongzhi has resided in the United States safely and apolitically since 1996 and Interpol has ignored a red notice the Chinese government put out requesting his detention.  In 2006, under somewhat suspicious circumstances the lead investigator for FLG’s allegations of human vivisection abuses by the Chinese government received press credentials for Hu Jintao’s official visit to the U.S. by the Bush White House and screamed imprecations at Hu during his press conference on the South Lawn.  And the FLG-affiliated Global Internet Freedom Consortium received a controversial $1.5 million grant in 2010 (the most confrontational year in many confrontational years of relations between the Obama administration and the PRC) to support its development of its Great Firewall evasion technologies Ultrasurf and Freegate.

While we are on the subject of anti-gay bigotry, Li Hongzhi, whose universe-penetrating wisdom allegedly gives him powers of invisibility and levitation and the ability to telekinetically install the “Wheel of Law” or “Dharma Wheel”–the “Falun” of “Falun Gong”– into the abdomen of his followers, is no fan of teh gay, as the cautiously pro-FLG Wikipedia entry  tells us:

As part of its emphasis on ethical behavior, Falun Gong’s teachings prescribe a strict personal morality for practitioners, which includes abstention from smoking, drugs, gambling, premarital or extramarital sex, and homosexuality.

This stance cost Li his unlikely nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, which was withdrawn by San Francisco legislators after his views were aired.

The PRC government and its allies have exploited the FLG’s anti-gay position to marginalize the group overseas.  In 2006, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of San Francisco, as part of its battle to exclude FLG waist-drum dancers from the annual Chinese New Year parade, took out a full-page ad in the San Francisco Chronicle asking why the “Chinese community” was being asked to support a “homophobic cult”.

The PRC’s determinedly secularist-materialist bent (most recently reaffirmed by its decision to vilify and investigate Wang Lin, a purported qigong master who peddled his nostrums to China’s wealthy, connected, and famous, as part of Xi Jingping’s anti-corruption drive) and, for that matter, its gay-friendly official stance butter few parsnips for its Western liberal critics.

However, it is an interesting irony that China’s progressive LGBT policies and with its anti-religious policies make it more likely that conservative and homophobic religious groups will become assets of the progressive and secular West in its ongoing rivalry with the PRC.

Peter Lee edits China Matters. His ground-breaking story on North Korea’s nuclear program, Japan’s Resurgent Militarism, appears in the March issue of CounterPunch magazine. He can be reached at: chinamatters (at) prlee. org.

 

 

 

More articles by:

Peter Lee edits China Matters and writes about Asia for CounterPunch.  

Weekend Edition
August 07, 2020
Friday - Sunday
John Davis
The COVID Interregnum
Louis Yako
20 Postcard Notes From Iraq: With Love in the Age of COVID-19
Patrick Cockburn
War and Pandemic Journalism: the Truth Can Disappear Fast
Eve Ottenberg
Fixing the COVID Numbers
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Every Which Way to Lose
Paul Street
Trump is Not Conceding: This is Happening Here
Robert Hunziker
The World on Fire
Rob Urie
Neoliberal Centrists and the American Left
John Laforge
USAF Vet Could Face ‘20 Days for 20 Bombs’ for Protest Against US H-Bombs Stationed in Germany
Andrew Levine
Clyburn’s Complaint
Kavaljit Singh
Revisiting the Idea of Pigou Wealth Tax in the Time of Covid-19
Paul Ryder
Here Come the 1968 Mistakes Again
T.J. Coles
Fighting Over Kashmir Could Blow Up the Planet
David Macaray
Haven’t We All Known Guys Who Were Exactly like Donald Trump?
Conn Hallinan
What’s Driving the Simmering Conflict Between India and China
Joseph Natoli
American Failures: August, 2020
Ramzy Baroud
Apartheid or One State: Has Jordan Broken a Political Taboo?
Bruce Hobson
The US Left Needs Humility to Understand Mexican Politics
David Rosen
Easy Targets: Trump’s Attacks on Transgendered People
Ben Debney
The Neoliberal Virus
Evelyn Leopold
Is Netanyahu Serious About Annexing Jordan Valley?
Nicky Reid
When the Chickens Came Home to Roost In Portlandistan
Irma A. Velásquez Nimatuj
The Power of the White Man and His Symbols is Being De-Mystified
Kathy Kelly
Reversal: Boeing’s Flow of Blood
Brian Kelly
Ireland and Slavery: Framing Irish Complicity in the Slave Trade
Ariela Ruiz Caro
South American Nations Adopt Different COVID-19 Stategies, With Different Results
Ron Jacobs
Exorcism at Boston’s Old West Church, All Hallows Eve 1971
J.P. Linstroth
Bolsonaro’s Continuous Follies
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
Right-Wing Populism and the End of Democracy
Dean Baker
Trump’s Real Record on Unemployment in Two Graphs
Michael Welton
Listening, Conflict and Citizenship
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump Is The Only One Who Should Be Going To School This Fall
John Feffer
America’s Multiple Infections
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Thinking Outside the Social Media Echo Chamber
Andrea Mazzarino
The Military is Sick
John Kendall Hawkins
How the Middle Half Lives
Graham Peebles
The Plight of Refugees and Migrant Workers under Covid
Robert P. Alvarez
The Next Coronavirus Bill Must Protect the 2020 Election
Greg Macdougall
Ottawa Bluesfest at Zibi: Development at Sacred Site Poses Questions of Responsibility
CounterPunch News Service
Tensions Escalate as Logging Work Commences Near Active Treesits in a Redwood Rainforest
Louis Proyect
The Low Magic of Charles Bukowski
Gloria Oladipo
Rural America Deserves a Real COVID-19 Response
Binoy Kampmark
Crossing the Creepy Line: Google, Deception and the ACCC
Marc Norton
Giants and Warriors Give Their Workers the Boot
David Yearsley
Celebration of Change
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail