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Title Falun Gong - Epoch Times seeks mainstream credibility, despite Falun Gong ties

Falun Gong - Epoch Times seeks mainstream credibility, despite Falun Gong ties February 5th, 2007 - In early January, a U.S. edition of The Epoch Times published a list of what its editors considered the Top 10 news stories of 2006. Not surprisingly, the war in Iraq was first. The second story was less predictable: Chinas Human Rights Movement Grows. That subject may not have made other news organizations Top 10 lists, but The Epoch Times is not a typical media outlet. It was launched in 2000 by members of the Falun Gong, a spiritual movement banned in China and sometimes called a cult. As it has grown, The Epoch Times has tried to make a place for itself in the mainstream media. Its not a Falun Gong newspaper, said Stephen Gregory, chairman of the board for English-language editions. Falun Gong is a question of an individuals belief. The papers not owned by Falun Gong, it doesnt speak for Falun Gong, it doesnt represent Falun Gong. It does cover the persecution of Falun Gong in China. Observers, critical and academic, are not convinced. They say The Epoch Times appears to be a major element of a global public relations campaign by Falun Gong to gain sympathy and new followers. [...] This is a strategy for the Falun Gong to expand its outreach to the non-followers and non-believers of Falun Gong, said Ming Xia, a political science professor at the College of Staten Island. To some degree, Epoch Times indicates a part of the Falun Gong strategy to embed itself into the large civil society for influence and legitimacy. Falun Gong combines parts of Buddhism, Taoism and the ideas of its founder, Li Hongzhi, with meditation and simple exercises. It lacks a central hierarchy. Many staffers, including Gregory, are part of the movement. [...] It is unclear exactly who owns the paper and how it receives much of its funding. An Associated Press reporter was allowed a brief visit to The Epoch Times headquarters in Manhattan, but was not allowed to interview anyone beyond Gregory. If we were to discuss who the ownership is, I believe that would put them in a situation in which they would be under a great deal of pressure, Gregory said. When it comes to the Chinese regime, theyll do almost anything. [...] This is a summary extract from the full article as it appeared in the International Herald Tribune, Feb 3, 2007 Full Article