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The growth of Falun Gong

1951 - 1963 Li Hongzhi, founder of Falun Gong, is born on May 13th, 1951, in the city of Gongzhuling in Jilin Province, China. From a young age, he studies with several masters of internal cultivation and martial arts.

1980-1990
Qigong wave

A fitness movement known as the “Qigong Wave” sweeps China. Millions take up traditional, Tai Chi-like health exercises known as “Qigong”, filling parks across the country by the break of dawn. Some 2,000 different Qigong disciplines are reportedly practised by tens of millions. Books, magazines, and scientific research on Qigong abound.

1992
Introduction to the public

After a two-year period of trial and observation with private students, Li Hongzhi disseminates Falun Gong to the public on May 13th, 1992. He travels through China for two years, giving 54 talks and seminars on Falun Gong. Classes typically last 8-10 days, two hours per day. Seminars are often arranged by local government-run Qigong organisations. Attendees range from a few hundred to upwards of 6,000 per event.

1992-1993
Recognition as Qigong

Falun Gong is officially recognised as a form of Qigong and Li Hongzhi is formally declared a “Master of Qigong” by the Qigong Science Research Association of China, receiving the permit to teach nationwide. In December 1992 at the Asian Health Expo held in Beijing, Li Hongzhi receives the most awards of any Master at the event. A year later in December 1993, Falun Gong receives several awards at the same Health Expo, including awards for “Advancing Frontier Science”, the “Special Gold Award”, and “Most Acclaimed Qigong Master”. This recognition in the Qigong community marks the start of Falun Gong’s rapid growth in China.

April 1993
First book

The first book teaching the practice, Zhonguo Falungong (中国法轮功, China Falun Gong), is published by Military Yiwen Press, making the practice accessible to a much wider audience. A revised edition is released in December of the same year.

1993-1994
Nationwide recognition

The People's Public Security Daily, a publication under the Ministry of Public Security, runs a story commending Mr Li for his contributions “in promoting the traditional crime-fighting virtues of the Chinese people, in safeguarding social order and security, and in promoting rectitude in society”. In December 1993 Li Hongzhi is awarded a Certificate of Honour from the Jianyi Yongwei Foundation of China, an affiliate institution of the Ministry of Public Security. In April 1994, the Window to Literature and the Arts magazine, a monthly periodical, publishes the first of three feature stories on the practice of Falun Gong. The practice increasingly finds itself in the news, primarily on grounds of its health benefits and the good citizenship it fosters. On May 6th, 1994, Mr Li is declared a “Grandmaster of Qigong,” by the Jilin Province Qigong Science Research Association.

1994
International
recognition

The City of Houston, Texas, declares Mr Li a “Goodwill Ambassador” and an “Honorary Citizen” (link) for his “unselfish public service for the benefit and welfare of mankind”.  These are the first of what would become hundreds of recognitions given to Li and Falun Gong in the United States and throughout the free world (click here for the full list of awards and recognitions).

September 1994

The first Falun Gong instructional videotape (demonstrating the practice’s exercises and meditation) is published under the auspices of Beijing Television Art Centre Publishing House.

December 1994

The last Falun Gong public teaching is given in China, taking place in the northeastern city of Dalian. Some 6,600 people attend.

January 1995
Second book
Zhuan Falun

Zhuan Falun (转法轮), the complete teachings of Falun Gong and focal book of the practice, is published by Radio & Television Broadcasting Press of China. A publication ceremony, held on January 4th, takes place in an auditorium of the Ministry of Public Security.

1995
First international
lectures

Mr Li Hongzhi begins teaching Falun Gong abroad, starting with a talk given in Paris at the Chinese Embassy, initiated at the invitation of China’s ambassador to France. A full seven-day class begins that evening in Paris, followed by a second series in May in Sweden.

1996
Bestseller

Zhuan Falun is listed in January, March, and April as a bestseller by Beijing Youth Daily.

1996
First signs of suppression

As Falun Gong rapidly becomes more popular, early signs of state suppression appear. Shortly after Zhuan Falun was listed as a bestseller, Falun Gong books were banned from publication by a July 24th internal order from the China News Publishing Bureau, an entity under the Ministry of Propaganda. The document accuses Falun Gong of “spreading superstition”. In the same year Li Hongzhi moves to the United States.

Read more about the increasing suppression by the Chinese regime leading to the horrible persecution in the timeline of the persecution.