Transnational Repression Campaign Against Shen Yun Intensifies With Threats of Terror

Petr Svab
By Petr Svab
March 27, 2024US News
Transnational Repression Campaign Against Shen Yun Intensifies With Threats of Terror
Shen Yun's tour buses have long been targeted for sabotage. Threats have recently escalated against the performing arts company, which portrays "China before communism." (The Epoch Times)

New York-based dance and music company Shen Yun Performing Arts has been targeted with at least 10 threats of bombs, mass shootings, kidnappings, and rape. The threats have been sent through email, usually in Chinese, over the past two weeks with increasing frequency.

Several emails were sent to the company’s headquarters. Others were sent to the theaters where Shen Yun was performing or scheduled to perform, prompting evacuations and bomb sweeps. No explosives have been found. Shen Yun has long been a target of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) because of its portrayal of “China before communism.”

The latest threat, on March 27, was sent to the Shen Yun headquarters, called Dragon Springs, in upstate New York.

“In the near future, you should take care of your actresses, who may very possibly disappear one by one and may be naked when found. Forensic conclusion is that they are killed after being raped!” it said, in Mandarin. “I’m not kidding.”

The email was sent from the same address as three previous threats from a day earlier, one to a theater in California, another to a theater in Taiwan, and another to Dragon Springs. One of the emails, riddled with expletives, suggested the threats may be coming from a single source.

NTD Photo
Dancers from Shen Yun Performing Arts perform on stage. The Chinese regime has targeted Shen Yun for nearly two decades. (Courtesy of Shen Yun)

“Me, your Big Boss, has made headlines hundreds of times! The FBI isn’t worth worrying about at all,” it said in Mandarin. “Keeping sending [such emails] will wear the police out sooner or later, and they will just think it’s the boy who cried wolf.

“Then one day, I will really place bombs in the theater. If it kills one of you, there will be one less traitor.”

In a separate incident in California two weeks ago, tires were slashed on two of Shen Yun’s tour buses in a manner suggesting an intent to cause a serious accident.

The Epoch Times previously reported that the FBI is investigating the incidents. The Epoch Times reached out to the FBI for comment on the most recent incidents, but didn’t receive a reply by press time.

When asked about the string of threats against Shen Yun at a press briefing on March 27, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said, “We condemn national transnational repression in any form, committed by any country.”

CCP Campaign

Shen Yun, the world’s leading classical Chinese dance and music company, has received renown for its portrayal of authentic Chinese culture under the tagline “China before communism.” Since its inception, the company has been the target of an interference campaign by the CCP.

“Shen Yun shows the world just how profound, inspiring, and magnificent authentic Chinese culture was before the CCP seized power, while also offering a captivating vision for how wonderful China could be once again without the CCP,” said Ying Chen, a vice president with Shen Yun Performing Arts.

“This is the last thing the CCP wants demonstrated so clearly on stages around the world, and so for more than 15 years, they have stopped at nothing to thwart Shen Yun.”

NTD Photo
Paramilitary soldiers stand guard in front of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 7, 2006. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

Many Shen Yun artists practice Falun Gong, an ancient Chinese spiritual practice that includes slow-moving exercises and the study of teachings based on the tenets of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance. The CCP has waged a campaign of vilification, arrests, torture, and forced organ harvesting against Falun Gong since 1999, after state-run surveys indicated that 70 million to 100 million people had adopted the practice, outpacing CCP membership. Some of Shen Yun’s dance pieces depict the persecution of Falun Gong.

In dozens of instances, CCP officials have pressured theaters or government officials to cancel Shen Yun shows. Some Shen Yun artists have had their relatives in China harassed by police or imprisoned.


Shen Yun representatives believe the threats are connected to the CCP’s campaign against the company.

The first of the threats came on March 14, in a Chinese-language email to Dragon Springs claiming that “a remote-control bomb” had been placed at the facility. Law enforcement were notified, but no explosives were found.

The Dragon Springs site includes Shen Yun training facilities, an arts college, an arts academy, and several Tang Dynasty-style temples.

Around the same time, tires on two of Shen Yun’s tour buses were slashed in Costa Mesa, California, according to a police report obtained by The Epoch Times.

NTD Photo
State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller during a press briefing on March 27, 2024. (Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

The cuts were about half an inch to one inch deep—not enough for the tires to deflate, but enough for them to burst while in motion. After similar incidents in years past, the company has kept its buses under constant supervision. The two buses, however, needed to be left unattended at a garage to undergo maintenance. The cuts were discovered after the vehicles were picked up.

Then, on March 22, a theater in Santa Barbara, California, received a bomb threat just as Shen Yun was setting up at the venue for its shows that weekend. The theater was evacuated, and police swept it for explosives with a K-9 team. Nothing was found, and the shows went on as scheduled, though with increased security.

“The FBI is aware of the alleged threat and is in communication with our local partners at the Santa Barbara Police Department,” a spokesperson for the bureau told The Epoch Times.

On March 23, a similar bomb threat was sent to a theater in Vancouver, Canada, where another Shen Yun group was performing that weekend. Police swept the building for explosives, but found nothing.

On March 26, a slew of threatening emails were sent to Dragon Springs as well as several theaters.

One email claimed that “multiple C4 plastic bombs have been placed in various locations in the Dragon Springs Temple.”

NTD Photo
The FBI headquarters in Washington on Feb. 15, 2024. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

Another email threatened a mass shooting.

“We will sneak into the Dragon Springs Temple in the Shawangunk Ridge, upstate New York, in the near future, shooting at whomever we see with guns and throwing grenades at crowds!” it said.

Also on that day came the expletive-laden rant in which the sender appeared angry that Dragon Springs and Shen Yun had reported the threats to the police and the media.

“It is me, your daddy, that has sent bomb [threat] emails to Shen Yun theaters, so what?” it said, boasting of impunity and unspecified connections.

“To tell you the truth, me, your daddy, also has connections in the United States.”

That same day, the same email address sent a threat to a theater in Long Beach, California, and a bomb threat to a theater in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, where Shen Yun is scheduled to perform in the coming days.

Still more emails, from different addresses, were sent that day to Dragon Springs, making threats about bombs at the National Taichung Theater in Taiwan; Taoyuan Airport in Taiwan, where a Shen Yun group landed on March 24; and the National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan.

NTD Photo
Taoyuan International Airport in Taiwan in a file photo. One of the threats was directed at the airport, where a Shen Yun group had landed days earlier. (Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images)

The next day, Dragon Springs received two more threats, one from the familiar email address, which promised the kidnap, rape, and murder of Shen Yun’s female performers, and the other claiming that bombs would be detonated at the Presidential Office Building in Taipei if Shen Yun shows weren’t canceled.

“Of course, we take these threats seriously and ensure law enforcement authorities are involved, but I think it’s also important to understand what these emails really are—the last-ditch effort of a regime to hide the truth. It is vital that they do not succeed,” Ms. Chen said.

Law enforcement is likely to take the threats seriously, said Betsy Brantner Smith, a former police sergeant and spokeswoman for the National Police Association.

“I have a lot of faith, especially in state and local law enforcement. And because this has seen some publicity, it’s gotten some play on social media. I think law enforcement takes this seriously,” she told NTD, a sister media outlet of The Epoch Times.

She said the threats appear to be hate crimes as they target Shen Yun based on the beliefs of its performers.

“This is absolutely religious persecution, and it should be considered as a hate crime,” Ms. Brantner Smith said.

“We are hopeful that the federal authorities, the Department of Justice, the FBI, as well as the local officials investigating this, treat it as such.”

From The Epoch Times

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