On Feb. 5, world-renowned Taiwanese monk Hsing Yun passed away at age 95. Thousands of people attended his funeral on Feb. 13, including Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who presented him with a posthumous citation in recognition of his “far-reaching impact and contributions to the state, society, and religious life” of Taiwan. However, the former head of the Chinese communist regime’s religious affairs bureau, Ye Xiaowen, was denied entry to Taiwan for the ceremony due to his record of human rights abuses.
Hsing Yun was born in China but fled to Taiwan in 1949. He established Taiwan’s Fo Guang Shan monastery in 1967, which went on to found hundreds of temples, seminaries, and universities around the world.
The Taiwan Falun Gong Human Rights Lawyers Group issued a statement saying that Ye should first apologize to the victims of the religious persecution in mainland China and offer condolences to them. The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) stated that it had issued entry and exit permits to a total of 120 people from mainland China and Hong Kong to attend the ceremony, including relatives and friends of the deceased abbot and people from religious circles. However, Zhu Fenglian, spokesperson for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, claimed on Feb. 11 that Taiwan had refused to allow the Chinese delegation to attend.
Taiwan’s vice premier, Cheng Wen-tsan, clarified that among the 38 people in the Chinese delegation, 26 people were approved. The rest were current officials of the Taiwan Affairs Office and the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), including Ye Xiaowen. MAC deputy minister Chiu Chui-cheng confirmed that Ye Xiaowen was denied entry because he was marked by Taiwan’s Immigration Bureau as having “persecuted Falun Gong practitioners in the past.” Taiwanese legislator Chou Yung-hong said that the Taiwanese government did not reject everyone in the Chinese group, but it was “all or nothing” for the Chinese, so the entire delegation missed the funeral.
The Falun Gong Human Rights Lawyers Group issued a statement on Feb. 11, supporting the Taiwanese government’s decision and addressing Ye’s active involvement in the persecution of Falun Gong. Falun Gong is a traditional spiritual practice based on the principles of truth, compassion, and forbearance. Its adherents in China have been brutally persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since former CCP leader Jiang Zemin launched a campaign to exterminate the movement in 1999. The group’s spokesperson, lawyer Zhu Wan-qi, stated Ye Xiaowen actively implemented Jiang’s policy to “defame Falun Gong’s reputation, destroy the practitioners financially, and destroy them physically.” Zhu said that before attending the funeral, Ye should have first offered condolences to the tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners, their families, and members of other faith groups who were persecuted by him. He emphasized that Taiwan’s decision to deny Ye entry, as someone who has committed crimes against humanity, is completely legal and reasonable. It is in line with Taiwan’s national identity as a country established “on the foundation of human rights.” This is evidenced by the Legislative Yuan passing a bill in December of 2010 that declared that Taiwan would not “invite, welcome, or receive human rights violators.”