The Chinese government's nationwide campaign to exterminate the Falun Gong meditation group has inaugurated a new era in Communist Party rule. The 1990s were shrouded by the shadow of Tiananmen, but today it is the campaign against "evil cults," or as most Westerners view it, religious repression, that casts the shadow. But the regime's war on cults extends far beyond the Falun Gong. Dozens of unofficial religious and spiritual groups have sprouted across the country in recent decades, creating followings of up to several million adherents. China's central government has labeled at least 15 such groups "evil cults," yet most continue to operate and even to expand.
Published in Current History 101, no. 656, (Sep 2002): 259-268.