Congressman Reads History of The Epoch Times on House Floor

'The Epoch Times represents freedom,' Rep. Ralph Norman said in his speech that was entered into the congressional record
By Emel Akan
Emel Akan
Emel Akan
reporter
Emel Akan is a senior White House correspondent for The Epoch Times, where she covers the Biden administration. Prior to this role, she covered the economic policies of the Trump administration. Previously, she worked in the financial sector as an investment banker at JPMorgan. She graduated with a master’s degree in business administration from Georgetown University.
and Eva Fu
Eva Fu
Eva Fu
Reporter
Eva Fu is a New York-based writer for The Epoch Times focusing on U.S. politics, U.S.-China relations, religious freedom, and human rights. Contact Eva at eva.fu@epochtimes.com
July 13, 2023Updated: July 18, 2023

Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) spoke on the House floor on July 13 about the origins of The Epoch Times, shedding light on its ongoing mission to provide uncensored information to readers around the world despite facing oppression by the Chinese communist regime.

Mr. Norman began his speech by telling the story of John Tang, founder of the publication, who was pursuing a doctorate in physics at Georgia Tech in 1999 when, after an unexpected turn of events, he decided to start a newspaper.

“He never imagined that 20 years later he would be heading the fourth largest American newspaper by subscription count,” Mr. Norman said.

Birth of The Epoch Times

In 1999, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) initiated a brutal campaign against the spiritual discipline Falun Gong, which includes meditative exercises and moral teachings centered on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.

An estimated 70 million to 100 million Chinese people were practicing Falun Gong at that time. The CCP, deeming the practice’s popularity a threat to its power, sought to demonize and isolate the group by using state and private media outlets, “playing nonstop hate propaganda attacking the peaceful group” in order to justify the persecution, according to Mr. Norman.

Mr. Tang, who had emigrated to the United States, watched from afar in horror as friends were persecuted for their beliefs while Western media amplified the CCP’s propaganda. Mr. Tang felt compelled to take action, Mr. Norman said.

With no prior experience or resources, Mr. Tang established Dajiyuan, the Chinese-language edition of The Epoch Times, in his Atlanta basement. Mr. Tang’s goal was to provide uncensored information not only to people in China but also to everyone worldwide. Soon, other Chinese Americans, including those with advanced degrees, abandoned their well-paying careers to join Mr. Tang in “this seemingly impossible endeavor,” according to Mr. Norman.

The congressman next talked about the paper’s first reporting group, which was established in China in 2000 and mainly focused on the CCP’s human rights abuses.

However, independent reporting on such sensitive topics posed a direct threat to the CCP’s control. Within months, Chinese police raided the newsroom in China, arresting all reporters and editors, some of whom faced harsh sentences and endured frequent torture, the congressman said, noting that two Epoch Times staff members, Zhang Yuhui and Shi Shaoping, were each sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The Epoch Times’ China operation went underground. Despite the setback, the Chinese edition flourished outside of China as a leading website for Chinese current events, attracting millions of readers. Today, its print newspaper reaches readers in more than 30 countries worldwide, including the United States. Many Chinese are bypassing the CCP’s internet firewall to access The Epoch Times website daily.

The CCP has been trying to shut down the publication ever since it was first published.

“The party has threatened the newspaper’s advertisers, launched incessant cyberattacks, and threatened relatives of staff members back in China,” Mr. Norman said.

Epoch Times Photo
Staff at the print shop that prints the Hong Kong edition of The Epoch Times react to a fire started by four masked men on Nov. 19, 2019.

This harassment hasn’t been limited to China. In 2006, assailants broke into the home of Chief Engineer Peter Li in Atlanta, tied him to a chair, and beat him before stealing his computers. In Hong Kong in 2019, assailants set fire to the newspaper’s printing press, and in 2021, armed men stormed the premises and smashed printing equipment with sledgehammers.

Despite all these attacks, the newspaper continues to fulfill its purpose of upholding the truth.

The Epoch Times also played a significant role in inspiring the Tuidang, or “Quit the CCP,” movement, Mr. Norman noted. Through its publication of the series “Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party,” The Epoch Times offered a comprehensive overview of the true nature of the CCP. As a result, more than 410 million Chinese people have sought to sever their ties with the party and its affiliated organizations.

Effect on the US

Recognizing the CCP’s infiltration efforts in the United States, especially within media organizations, The Epoch Times introduced an English edition in 2003 and established a print edition in New York in 2004. The newspaper’s independent reporting quickly gained traction. It’s now the fourth-largest newspaper in the United States by subscriber count. Its website also attracts tens of millions of monthly readers, Mr. Norman said.

Currently, The Epoch Times is published in 36 countries and in 22 languages. As a nonprofit organization largely supported by individual subscribers, it provides in-depth news and analysis on critical global events.

Mr. Norman concluded his speech by saying that the paper “seeks to highlight the best of humanity in order to inspire people.”

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times newspapers in New York on July 13, 2023. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)

“This is all about one word: freedom,” he said.

The congressman told The Epoch Times that he was inspired to give the address before Congress after reading the paper and learning about the company’s origins.

“The Epoch Times represents freedom,” Mr. Norman said. “It’s an example of taking matters into your own hands and being a voice and not being silenced.

“Anybody else would have quit; they would have quit if you’d had your house raided or if you’d had the torture that’s going on.”

And it’s time to do exactly what The Epoch Times is doing, he said, because “that’s the only way we’re going to survive as a free nation.”

“The way it was founded and came into being through adversity ought to be told to America,” Mr. Norman said. “Because we can be the next CCP if we don’t tell the story of The Epoch Times.”

Jackson Richman contributed to this report.