Most days, Xiang Dong leads a life typical of this city’s suburban office worker. But at nights, he takes on another persona: China dissident.
The bespectacled Mr. Xiang, a 38-year-old father of two, hosts a pair of weekly talk shows for a U.S.-based satellite-TV broadcaster called New Tang Dynasty Television. Setting up at a bare-bones studio at a high school one night, he fiddled with his laptop-cum-teleprompter. “I forgot my power cord,” sighed Mr. Xiang, who works as a database manager. “I’ll just have to rely on batteries.”
Making do is the modus operandi for the largely volunteer staff of New Tang Dynasty TV. Yet they are helping build one of the most significant overseas dissident movements to challenge China in decades. Most staffers belong to Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual-and-meditation movement banned by Beijing as an “evil cult.” What started as an effort by U.S.-based Falun Gong practitioners — many immigrants from China — to speak out against a government crackdown back home has evolved into a broadcaster with big aspirations.