I am the keeper of an untold story.
The story of a volunteer group who scored a victory against the Chinese Communist Party.
Whether or not you believe I am delusional for thinking Citizens Against Communist Chinese Propaganda closed the Florida Splendid China theme park is of no consequence. The contributions from people and organizations deserve to be acknowledged and as the Coordinator it falls on me. I apologize for taking so long. I should have ignored the threats and provided hope. A complete telling of this story would take hours, please do not allow the brevity of this presentation to diminish the accomplishments of the participants.
First, why was there opposition to the Florida Splendid China theme park?
Florida Splendid China was owned and operated by China Travel Services (HK) whose senior management are selected by the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council of the Peoples Republic of China. 1 The State Council is the highest organ of state power in the Chinese Communist Party controlled Peoples Republic of China.
Secret documents obtained and translated from a 1993 Propaganda conference specifically addressed the use of cultural exchanges to spread Chinese government propaganda. 2 The St. Petersburg Times newspaper in an article covering the opening of Florida Splendid China stated their management were hoping to bring in children by the busload. 3
Opposition to the theme park focused on the following exhibits 4 :
Tomb of Apak Hoja - misnamed the Xiang Fei's Tomb 8
The inclusion of the Potala Palace, home to successive Dalai Lamas since 1645, implied it was Chinese and Tibetans were Chinese. The irony is the Peoples Liberation Army bombarded the structure in 1959 during the Tibetan Uprising. The Potala Palace no longer fulfills the same role as the center of Tibetan cultural, religious, and political life as the Chinese government turned it into a museum.
The inclusion of an exhibit called the Mausoleum of Genghis Khan is another example of how the Chinese government attempted to distort history. The memory of the Great Khan was kept alive for nearly 700 years with the nomadic Three Ordons of Chinghis Khan, a mobile shrine dedicated to his memory since nobody knows the location of his grave. Under Chinese Communist rule, the three Ordons were confiscated and a structure built to house (and control) the relics. This structure is called the Mausoleum of Genghis Khan and was used as a pig pen during the Cultural Revolution. Chinghis Khan was never Chinese although his descendants ruled over them.
The Id Gah Mosque, a centerpiece of the ancient silk road city of Kashgar is used as a tourist attraction and maintained under the control of a committee of avowed atheists.
Building started on the Tomb of Apak Hoja in 1640 and is the resting place for him and 72 of his relatives, including Ipar Han. The Uyghur believe she committed suicide rather than become the Chinese Emperor's concubine - the theme park's version erases her great struggle and replaces it with a false history. Calling the structure the "Tomb of Xiang Fei" or "Fragrant Concubine" is an attempt to rewrite history.
Citizens Against Communist Chinese Propaganda also opposed the inclusion of religious exhibits 9 in the theme park. Their inclusion in the theme park implies the government of China allows the free expression of religion when all religious activity in the Peoples Republic of China is under the control of avowed atheists, the Chinese Communist Party.
To help explain what Citizens Against Communist Chinese Propaganda was not against, none of the other exhibits were a target of our activities. Our webpages provided entries for each of the exhibits 10 and solicited further information from the public. This was not an anti-China effort.
Many organizations called on the theme park management to remove these exhibits. Citizens Against Communist Chinese Propaganda wrote letters to the theme park management to discuss the signage in front of the exhibits and we would stop our activities. A letter was sent prior to each demonstration organized by CACCP and never answered. 11
Second, what was done in opposition to the Florida Splendid China theme park?
Protest demonstrations started outside the main gate of the attraction on Grand Opening day in December 1993, and continued at an average of every two or so months. 12 When the price dropped for an annual ticket to just above the price of a daily admission, demonstrators entered the park. Statements were read in front of the exhibits and videotaped, however there were no video streaming services to get the word out like today. There was local media coverage and a segment on the nightly TV news was devoted to our demonstration when Takster Rinpoche, elder brother of His Holiness Dalai Lama, attended.
Letters were written to all the 69 Florida Public School Boards relating our objections to public school field trips and the indoctrination of our children in Chinese Communist Party propaganda. 13
Our short-lived snail mail newsletter converted to the internet and morphed into a number of mailing lists, a running history of the efforts against the theme park, and information on the struggle against the falsification of Tibetan, Mongolian and Uyghur histories.
Citizens Against Communist Chinese Propaganda also held conferences with international attendees and colluded with activists in the Holland to stop the Sweet Lake China theme park scheduled for an opening in 2002. 14
I am reticent to name supporting individuals. To protect their anonymity and forgo any possible negative consequences resulting from a change of situation, I believe it to be the most prudent course of action. The list includes Tibetans, Mongolians, Uyghur, Taiwanese, Japanese, Chinese, Americans, Europeans and many others. To actually list all the names would take longer than this video and invariably some will be forgotten.
Among the organizations supporting Citizens Against Communist Chinese Propaganda in the effort against the propaganda theme were the Office of Tibet New York, Inner Mongolian Peoples Party, Uyghur American Association, International Campaign for Tibet, Eastern Turkestan National Congress, Formosans for Human Rights, International Tibet Independence Movement and members of Chushi Gangduk.
As a consequence of our efforts, Florida Splendid China closed its gates at the end of 2003. Although the media proclaimed it was the economic downturn after 9-11, the real reason was the united effort convincing Florida citizens and visitors the truth about Florida Splendid China. In April 2004, I authored an OpEd in Insight Magazine 15 to defend my position and later that month the Houston Consulate of the Peoples Republic of China. called my home. 16 The thinly veiled threats against family members were communicated to US authorities and I ceased all political activities, for a while.
Future videos will discuss certain aspects in more detail.