The Epoch Times

The Epoch Times
The Epoch Times
Epoch LA.jpg
Type International newspaper
Format Broadsheet
Founded 2000
Political alignment anti-communist, anti-Chinese Communist Party, pro Falun Gong
Language mainly Chinese and English
Headquarters New York, USA
Circulation 1.4 million (unaudited)
Official website The Epoch Times

The Epoch Times (traditional Chinese: 大紀元; simplified Chinese: 大纪元; pinyin: Dàjìyuán) is a multi-language, international media organisation. As a newspaper, the Times has been publishing in Chinese since May 2000. It was founded in 1999 by supporters of the Falun Gong spiritual discipline.[1][2][3]

The paper covers general interest issues, China, and human rights.[4][5][6] The newspaper is heavily critical of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and policies of the P.R. Chinese government. In 2004, the newspaper published the "Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party", an in-depth critique of China's ruling regime. The newspaper covers causes and groups opposed to the CCP, including Falun Gong, dissidents, activists, and supporters of the Tibetan government-in-exile. The Epoch Times Website also hosts a "CCP Renunciations" service, encouraging Chinese to quit the CCP and related organizations.[7] The PRC government blocks mainland Chinese from accessing the Epoch Times website.[8]

Headquartered in New York City, the newspaper has local bureaus and a network of local reporters throughout the world. It is either sold or distributed free-of-charge in roughly 30 countries worldwide, and maintains editions in English, Chinese, nine other languages in print, and 17 on the internet.



According to the newspaper itself, The Epoch Times was founded in New York in May 2000, following the arrest of a small circle of journalists in China in 2000.[9] As stated on the website, it was “in a suburban Atlanta home basement with a noble cause, a clear sense of purpose and a few home personal computers.”

On August 12, 2002, The Epoch Times launched its first daily in Washington, D.C.[citation needed] In August 2004, an English language edition of The Epoch Times was launched in Manhattan, as well as Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, and several other cities.[10] It is also distributed in Chicago and San Diego.[11] The paper has associated media services, including the television station New Tang Dynasty TV and the radio station Sound of Hope.

The Epoch Times is often connected with the Falun Gong spiritual group. A 2006 report by the U.S. Congressional Research Service listed the newspaper as a Falun Gong affiliated media source,[6] and Professor David Ownby, an expert on Falun Gong, said that after years of ill-treatment by journalists, "they decided to publish a newspaper by themselves to publicize their beliefs..."[12]


As of September 2010, The Epoch Times is available in ten languages for its print editions and in 17 languages on the Internet.[13] English editions were distributed in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States. German and French editions were launched in late 2004. There were two language editions published in Tokyo, Japan: the Chinese language edition, launched in January 2001, and the Japanese language edition, launched in 2005.[14] In addition, a Hebrew edition of the Epoch Times has been available in Israel since 2005.

Yuezhi Zhao, Assistant Professor of Communication at Simon Fraser University, Canada, wrote in 2003 that The Epoch Times website and The Epoch Times group of newspapers had "grown into one of the largest Chinese-language news websites and newspaper groups outside China in the past two years, with local editions in more than thirty U.S. states, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and major Western European countries."[15] It claims a circulation of 100,000 in the United States, and more than 1 million worldwide in 2009; it is unaudited in some places.[16]

Its New York-area circulation is 35,000 weekly for the English version and 105,000 weekly for the Chinese-language edition, according to a spokesman for the company.[17]

Coverage and focus

Typically a 16-page broadsheet, the Epoch Times also runs mainstream newswire stories and in some places can resemble a community newspaper.[18] Some local versions take the form of a free weekly newspaper drawing on content from the Epoch Times website, and are distributed worldwide. Zhao said: "While mainstream newspaper typically treat Web versions as an extension of the already-existing print version, the Epoch Times website serves as the master for all its worldwide papers."[15]

The paper staffs reporters locally based in offices in each country where an edition is printed. In New York they are a common presence at public events, and around the world they cover stories that pertain to their own areas, contributing to a pool of articles for the different editions to share. David Ownby, director of the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Montreal and the author of Falun Gong and the Future of China, wrote that the newspaper’s articles are “well written and interesting, if occasionally idiosyncratic in their coverage."[17]

"The Epoch Times is a newspaper with a mission," Ownby says, which includes "reporting on issues bearing on human rights throughout the world, which allows for considerable focus on China and Falun Gong."[19]

Political stance

The Epoch Times originally targeted Chinese readers living abroad and reported on various abuses and inner workings of the Communist Party of China (CCP). The paper's reports on China are highly critical of the PRC government, particularly in its tone and commentaries towards the Communist Party. The paper is unique in giving significant attention to Falun Gong's campaigns, particularly their attempt to sue former Chinese President Jiang Zemin under civil legislation for genocide, which many mainstream publications have not covered.[20] As reported by the paper itself, Chinese journalists relayed stories overseas of alleged human rights abuses, infringements on civil liberties and corruption in the CCP, among others.[9] In 2005, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that "three new U.S-based, Chinese-language media outlets that provide provocative reporting about the Communist Party, government oppression and social unrest in China [namely the Epoch Times, Sound of Hope, and NTDTV] have ties to the Falun Gong spiritual movement." When interviewed, executives at each outlet said they did not represent the Falun Gong movement as a whole.[4]

The paper also counters what it considers to be CCP propaganda through its own opinion pieces. The paper is vocal in supporting dissidents, pro-independence Taiwanese, and other traditional opponents of the CCP.

According to Ming Xia, political science professor at the College of Staten Island, The Epoch Times represents part of Falun Gong's effort to expand to non-practitioners, and "is part of the Falun Gong strategy to embed itself into the large civil society for influence and legitimacy"[21]

Reporting style

An iconic feature of the newspaper is displayed under the masthead of every Chinese edition of the newspaper: a counter of the number of people who have allegedly renounced their membership in the Communist Party of China or its affiliate organizations. The counter stood at over 103 million as of October 10, 2011.[22] This same number is either omitted in English editions or described as the number of people who have renounced the Party or its affiliates.[23]

Throughout March 2006, the newspaper published a series of articles containing allegations by a number of anonymous individuals claiming to be eyewitnesses to organ harvesting in Sujiatun Hospital and beyond, labelling it "Sujiatun Concentration Camp".[24] The claims made in the article were unsubstantiated, and criticised by dissident Harry Wu, who dismissed the claims as hearsay, without any documentary support or any detailed information.[25][26]

In November 2004, the Chinese version of The Epoch Times published and heavily promoted a series of editorials and a booklet entitled "Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party" (traditional Chinese: 九評共產黨; simplified Chinese: 九评共产党). The editorials purport to give an alternate exposé of the CCP through its history, from its ascent to power under Mao Zedong to its present-day form, as well as a condemnation of communism in all of its forms. In it the CCP was criticized as an illegitimate institution who employed underhanded tactics to gain power. The commentaries allege that the CCP "destroyed traditional Chinese culture" and goes so far as to brand the CCP an "evil cult".[27] According to Ownby, the Commentaries are a condemnation of Communism and direct indictment on the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party in ruling China. While acknowledging the "unnecessary violence" the Chinese Communist Party have inflicted, as a professional historian Ownby finds that the lack balance and nuance in tone and style makes the editorial resemble "anti-Communist propaganda written in Taiwan in the 1950s."[19]

The Nine Commentaries won the “Asian American Issues - Online” category of the AAJA National Awards at the 2005 Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) convention held in August 2005.[28][29] The "Commentaries" were subsequently translated into more than 30 other languages.[30]

During the 2009 New York City Comptroller elections, the Epoch Times alleged that Taiwan-born Democratic nominee John Liu is part of a "United Front" by the Chinese Communist Party to infiltrate the United States and subvert its government, democracy, and human rights in general.[31] The newspaper alleges that "the CCP works tenaciously and systematically to place its people [...] in key positions in corporations, academia, and government in the United States and other countries."[32] The coverage began when practitioners felt Liu had sided with local residents critical of Falun Gong, and therefore was on equal moral footing with the Communist Party of China.[33] The Epoch Times also published an 8-page "special edition", and also featured on its website a section focused on coverage of Liu's reported ties with CCP officials.[33][34]

During Hu Jintao's visit to Canada in June 2010, the Toronto Star noted that the Epoch Times had published several "hard-hitting" critical stories on Hu's visit, such as allegations of the local Chinese embassy's orchestration of welcome parades, as well as an alleged recording of a speech by the first secretary of education Liu Shaohua, in which Liu stated that embassy would provide accommodation and transport for over 3,000 participants in the welcome parade.[35]

Canadian media reported that the parliamentary press office made deliberate arrangements in relation to Hu's public appearances limiting the Epoch Times' access to the Chinese President, even though the newspaper is an accredited member of the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery, with all the same access rights as other media outlets.[35] The paper also carried an exclusive interview with outspoken Canadian MP Rob Anders, wherein Anders alleged that the Chinese government used gifts and business deals in attempts to influence Canadian political decisions.[36][37][38]


In 2010, The Epoch Times had to defend its reporting in the Canadian court system,[39] when a publisher they had reported on, Crescent Chau, sued for libel.[40] The justice in charge of the case ruled that the paper had acted in the public interest, and that the particular article expressed "legitimate concerns and constitute an opinion which is drawn from a factual premise". In examining the case, John Gordon Miller, a Canadian journalist and media professor, noted that the articles of the paper "appear to be thoroughly and professionally reported, which isn't always the case in the often under-resourced ethnocultural press." Miller viewed the court victory as significant step in repairing its credibility, previously damaged by the Wang Wenyi incident. "In the Quebec case, the paper's reporting stood up to the court's scrutiny," Miller wrote.[40]

Awards and achievements

In May 2005, Die Neue Epoche, the German-language edition of The Epoch Times, received a special media prize from the International Society for Human Rights (IGFM) for "extensive and regular reporting about violations of human rights in China."[41] In August 2005, the English version of the paper was awarded the top award in the category "Asian American Issues - Online" by the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA).[11][42] In September 2005, the Chinese version of the paper was recognized during the National Ethnomedia Week 2005 in Canada as a "strong defender of human rights and free democratic values."[43]


In the view of some observers[who?], the newspaper's credibility was damaged by Wang Wenyi,[18] who used her Epoch Times journalist pass to gain access to a White House lawn press briefing where she yelled at Chinese President Hu Jintao over recent allegations of organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners in China.[44][45] In turn, The Epoch Times apologized to the U.S. President,[46] whilst denying any direct ties to, or funding from, Falun Gong.[18]

Dr. Liu Kang, professor of Chinese Cultural Studies at Duke University, claimed in 2006 that the paper did not adhere to basic journalistic standards of professionalism and objectivity, and is "not viewed as an independent objective news media" by members of the Chinese Diaspora;[18] he also referred to the Wang incident. Liu remarked that the newspaper is seen by the overseas Chinese community as "Falun Gong propaganda".

James Bettinger, a professor of Communications at Stanford University and the director of the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships, said "Even if the Epoch Times is not associated with Falun Gong, if they consistently write about Falun Gong in the same perspective, or if there are no articles examining Falun Gong, people would perceive it as being not credible."[18]

Others critics have given different opinions. Orville Schell, dean of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, said in 2005 that "It's hard to vouch for their quality because it's difficult to corroborate, but it's not something to be dismissed as pure propaganda."[4]

The paper's apparent lack of balance has been lauded by some Chinese dissidents. Jiao Guobiao, an outspoken dissident and former Beijing University journalism professor who was dismissed after criticizing the CCP's propaganda department, proposed that even if Falun Gong outlets published only negative information highly critical of the CCP, the weight of their attacks could never begin to counterbalance the positive propaganda the party publishes about itself. In addressing media balance, Jiao noted that the Chinese public lacked negative, critical information regarding their country. As such, he noted for a need of media balance based on the principles of freedom, equality, and legality, and that media balance "is the result of the collective imbalances of all"[47]


  1. ^ Postmedia News, "Tory MP says China using gifts, sex to influence our politicians",
  2. ^ China's Campaign Against Falungong, Human Rights Watch
  3. ^ China uses Rule of Law to Crackdown on Falun Gong, Human Rights Watch
  4. ^ a b c Hua, Vanessa (December 18, 2005). "Dissident media linked to Falun Gong / Chinese-language print, broadcast outlets in U.S. are making waves". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved December 9, 2006. 
  5. ^ Peter Schworm (December 3, 2007). "Chinese-American activists decry China's communism". The Boston Globe. 
  6. ^ a b Thomas Lum (August 11, 2006). "China and Falun Gong". Congressional Research Service. 
  7. ^ "Quitting the CCP". The Epoch Times.,95,,1.html. 
  8. ^ "Reporters sans frontières - China". Retrieved December 18, 2009. 
  9. ^ a b The Epoch Times, "About Us". Retrieved July 1, 2006.
  10. ^ "The Epoch Times - Advertising with a corporate social responsibility". Retrieved December 18, 2009. 
  11. ^ a b Michael Miner (October 14, 2005). "Down With the Chinese Tyrants! Chicago's latest free weekly has a simple editorial message". Chicago Reader. 
  12. ^ ibid Radio Canada ombudsman report, Pg10
  13. ^ "Epoch Times has 17 Languages on the Web". Retrieved December 18, 2009. 
  14. ^ "大紀元時報−日本". Retrieved December 18, 2009. 
  15. ^ a b Zhao, Yuezhi, "Falun Gong, Identity, and the Struggle over Meaning Inside and Outside China", pp 209-223 in Contesting Media Power: Alternative Media in a Networked World, edited by Nick Couldry and James Curran (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003)
  16. ^ "Annual Report on American Journalism". State of the News Media. 2009. 
  17. ^ a b Morais, Betsy. "The Epoch Times doesn't like to brag", Capital Magazine, Jun. 23, 2010
  18. ^ a b c d e Eugenia Chien, "Falun Gong-Linked Media Venture Makes Waves, Raises Questions", New America Media, News Analysis, May 16, 2006
  19. ^ a b David Ownby, Falun Gong and the Future of China (2008) Oxford University Press, p. 221
  20. ^ "Global Coalition to Bring Jiang to Justice". Retrieved December 18, 2009. 
  21. ^ Nahal Toosi, Paper denies representing Falun Gong Associted Press. Feb 5, 2007.
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ Worse Than Any Nightmare—Journalist Quits China to Expose Concentration Camp Horrors and Bird Flu Coverup, Epoch Times, March 10, 2006
  25. ^ Frank Stirk, Canadians probe Chinese organ harvesting claims, Canadian Christianity, retrieved September 24, 2010
  26. ^ Glen McGregor, "Inside China's 'crematorium'", The Ottawa Citizen, November 24, 2007
  27. ^ The Epoch Times Dec 26, 2004 (December 26, 2004). "Part 8: On How the Chinese Communist Party Is an Evil Cult". Retrieved December 18, 2009. 
  28. ^ "Programs : Awards : AAJA NATIONAL AWARDS 1989 - 2006". AAJA. Retrieved December 18, 2009. [dead link]
  29. ^ "The Epoch Times | "Nine Commentaries" Wins National Journalism Award in U.S". August 19, 2005. Retrieved December 18, 2009. 
  30. ^ "Translations of the Nine Commentaries". December 13, 2004. Retrieved December 18, 2009. 
  31. ^ "Chinese Communist Party Subverts Democracies and Rights Abroad". Epoch Times. September 10, 2009. Retrieved December 18, 2009. 
  32. ^ "Editor's Note on Coverage of John Liu: Uncovering a hidden threat". September 10, 2009. 
  33. ^ a b The New York Observer: Who Hates John Liu?
  34. ^ "John Liu and the United Front". Epoch Times.,com_ettopic/topicid,57/. Retrieved December 18, 2009. 
  35. ^ a b Susan Delacourt, "Harper helps Hu keep critics away", Fri Jun 25, 2010
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^, quoting from Xinhua, March 23, 2006 (accessed 23 July 2011)
  40. ^ a b Miller, John Gordon. (Note: site available to paid subscribers only.) "Judge rules that Falun Gong newspaper acted in the public interest". Straight Goods, Monday, May 31, 2010
  41. ^ "The Epoch Times Wins Prize for Human Rights Reporting". May 10, 2006. Retrieved December 18, 2009. 
  42. ^ "Nine Commentaries" Wins National Journalism Award in U.S.". The Epoch Times. August 15, 2005. 
  43. ^ "nepm". Retrieved December 18, 2009. 
  44. ^ Kathy Chen (November 15, 2007). "Chinese Dissidents Take On Beijing Via Media Empire". The Wall Street Journal. 
  45. ^ "Bush presses China over currency". BBC News. April 21, 2006. Retrieved May 20, 2006. 
  46. ^ Karlyn Barker and Lena H. Sun (April 22, 2006). "Falun Gong Activist Defiant After Arrest". Washington Post. Retrieved May 20, 2006. 
  47. ^ Thornton, Patricia M. Manufacturing Dissent in Transnational China pp. 179-204 in "Popular Protest in China," Kevin J. O'Brien (ed.), Harvard University Press 2008


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