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A business of profit or conscience?
AFAR
10/26/2003



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NEW YORK - It is sadly ironic that a company espousing that its “primary mission has always been first and foremost, to help women enrich their lives” finds itself between a rock and a hard place in doing what it feels it must do to continue to do business in China.

Responding to The Epoch Times October 19th article, "Mary Kay Employees Told Not to Practice Falun Gong," Mary Kay Inc. admitted it felt it must comply with "Chinese laws" by not allowing its employees to participate in organizations considered illegal by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Torn between doing what it must to satisfy Party mandarins and minions while at the same time hoping to look after the best interests of its employees, Mary Kay faces the same dilemma that countless companies face in doing business in China. It is a moral dilemma, one that pits unwitting American and Canadian shareholders against China-based employees in a fight that only the Chinese government cares about, as if to say, “Repress your employees as we tell you to, or else.”

The Dallas-based corporation must have a sizable investment at risk in China, claiming in its statement that, “Mary Kay has brought the economic opportunity to more than 120,000 Chinese women.” One can imagine the dilemma the company faces.

Under CCP laws, organizations currently considered illegal include the Catholic Church (as recognized by the Vatican), pro-democracy groups, and several traditional Chinese meditation practices (qigong), including the banned spiritual practice called Falun Gong.

As reported in a recent Epoch Times article, Mary Kay forces its employees in China to sign statements agreeing to not practice Falun Gong under the threat of immediate dismissal because the corporation feels it has to comply with “Chinese laws” in order to do business in China.

This policy led not only to the dismissal but also to the arrest of a Mary Kay Shenzhen branch office employee in September 2003 for sharing his experiences with what has been termed "the most popular qigong practice in China's history."

According to a NTD TV report, the CCP government agency referred to as the “6-10 Office” (a.k.a. the “Falun Gong Control Office”) has threatened Mary Kay with “disruption of normal business operations” if such laws that restrict freedom of belief are not followed

By the Chinese government’s own estimate in 1998, 70-100 million people in China were practicing Falun Gong. Due to its overwhelming popularity, in July of 1999 the then-dictator of China, Jiang Zemin, launched a state-run suppression of the practice, declaring Falun Gong an "illegal organization."

Human rights watchdogs Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have since affirmed the torture and death of hundreds of Falun Gong practitioners in Chinese jails and labor camps.

Falun Gong is practiced freely in over 50 countries around the world, despite the brutal repression its practitioners continue to face in China.

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