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The Epoch Times

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The Epoch Times
The Epoch Times-2023-10-06.png
Front page of The Epoch Times, October 6, 2023
TypeInternational newspaper
Owner(s)Epoch Media Group
Founder(s)John Tang
PublisherEpoch Media Group
FoundedMay 20, 2000; 23 years ago (2000-05-20)
Political alignmentleans center-right
LanguageMultiple, mainly Chinese and English
Headquarters229 W. 28th St.
New York, NY 10001
The Epoch Times
Traditional Chinese大紀元時報
Simplified Chinese大纪元时报

The Epoch Times is an independent global news and information source that was founded in the year 2000 by John Tang.[1] It covers a wide range of topics, including politics, world events, culture, and society. The publication is known for its strong stance against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its coverage of topics related to China, human rights, and religious freedom. On July 13, 2023 Ralph Norman (R-SC) recognized The Epoch Times for the Congressional Record, including in his speech an introduction to its founder John Tang, stating: "He never imagined that 20 years later he would be heading the fourth largest American newspaper by subscription count".[2]

The Epoch Times has both a print and online presence, a growing online readership, and a substantial social media following. It operates in multiple languages, and provides a counter-narrative to mainstream media bias which has attracted negative attention from the Chinese Communist Party, U.S. government agencies, big tech companies, and mainstream media.[3][4] The Epoch Times is considered by some to have a conservative or right leaning perspective.[5] The outlet has garnered a significant following for its reporting, particularly their coverage of human rights abuses, the harvesting of human organs, and the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners.[6] In an interview with NBC News, presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. referred to The Epoch Times as a daily read; one that was among his most trusted news sources. Quoting Kennedy: “They have a real bias against China, but on other reporting, they’re very courageous and it’s real journalism.”[7]

There have been attempts to affiliate The Epoch Times with the Falun Gong religious practices; however, it is important to distinguish between the religious practice of Falun Gong and The Epoch Times as a news organization, even though there may be some overlap in personnel or shared perspectives on certain issues. According to AP reporter Nahal Toosi, it is deemed "technically inaccurate" to make the assertion that The Epoch Times is owned by Falun Gong. Many in mainstream media have said that "Falun Gong uses the newspaper as part of a public relations campaign and that it is connected with the group and carries sympathetic coverage of it."[8][9]


The Epoch Times was founded in 2000 by John Tang and other Chinese Americans, some of whom are Falun Gong practitioners who were being persecuted in China.[10] Falun Gong is a meditation practice that emphasizes morality and the cultivation of virtue. It identifies as a practice of the Buddhist school, though its teachings also incorporate elements drawn from Taoist traditions.[11] In 1999, Tang was pursuing a doctorate in physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology College of Engineering when he decided to launch a newspaper.[12] The founders said they were responding to censorship inside China and a lack of international understanding about the Chinese government's repression of Falun Gong.[13]

By 2003, The Epoch Times website and group of newspapers had grown into one of the largest Chinese-language news sites and newspaper groups outside China, with local editions in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and major Western European countries.[14] The first English edition launched online in 2003, followed by the first print edition in 2004.[15]

Nick Couldry and James Curran wrote in 2003 that the paper represents a "major step in the evolution of Falun Gong-related alternative media", and may be part of a de facto media alliance with democracy activists in exile.[16] In 2003 sociologist Yuezhi Zhao wrote that the paper "displays an indisputable ideological and organizational affinity with Falun Gong" and that it strongly emphasizes negative portrayals of the Chinese government and positive portrayals of Falun Gong. Per Zhao, Epoch identifies as neutral, independent, and public-interest oriented.[14]

Associated Press reporter Nahal Toosi wrote in 2006 that it is "technically inaccurate" to say that Falun Gong owns The Epoch Times, though many of the paper's staffers are Falun Gong practitioners.[17] Toosi noted "many observers" have said Falun Gong uses the newspaper for its public relations campaigns, and the paper is connected with the group and carries sympathetic coverage of it.[22] The English Epoch Times chair Stephen Gregory has denied that The Epoch Times is directly connected to Falun Gong.[17][23][24]

In 2008, David Ownby, director of the Center for East Asian Studies at the Université de Montréal and the author of Falun Gong and the Future of China, said Falun Gong practitioners set up the newspaper with their own money.[25] He described The Epoch Times as wishing to be taken seriously as a global newspaper rather than being judged on the basis that some of its journalists have a strong association with Falun Gong.[25][26] Ownby wrote: "Epoch Times is a newspaper with a mission, that of reporting on issues bearing on human rights throughout the world, which allows for considerable focus on China and Falun Gong."[27]

In a 2018 report, the Hoover Institution wrote, "the space for truly independent Chinese-language media in the United States has shrunk to a few media outlets supported by the adherents of Falun Gong, the banned religious sect in China, and a small publication and website called Vision Times", the report noting that the latter is also associated with Falun Gong.[28]

In 2019, an NBC News investigative report suggested The Epoch Times's political coverage may be affected by Falun Gong believers' anticipation of a judgment day in which communists are sent to hell and Falun Gong's allies are spared. Former Epoch Times employees told NBC News that Donald Trump is viewed as a key anti-communist ally,[29] allegedly hastening that judgment day.[30]

In 2020, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) considered Falun Gong's growing popularity a challenge to its rule, and "banned it after 10,000 practitioners silently protested in Beijing.[31] The CCP labeled it an “evil cult” that threatened national stability, and imprisoned some of its members." Sarah Liang, a journalist for The Epoch Times, expressed her concerns for the newspaper which was "started by Falun Gong members that is heavily critical of the Chinese Communist Party and supports U.S. President Donald Trump." She continued, “But we’re different from other groups in that we’ve already suffered 20 years of persecution.”[31]


According to NBC News, "little is publicly known about the precise ownership, origins or influences of The Epoch Times", and it is loosely organized into several regional tax-free nonprofits, under the umbrella of the Epoch Media Group, together with New Tang Dynasty Television.[29]

The newspaper's revenue has increased rapidly in recent years, from $3.8 million in 2016 to $8.1 million in 2017 (with spending of $7.2 million), $12.4 million in 2018[32] and $15.5 million in 2019.[33][34] Tax documents indicate that between 2012 and 2016, the group received $900,000 from a principal at Renaissance Technologies, a hedge fund led at the time by the conservative political donor Robert Mercer.[35] Chris Kitze, a former NBC executive and creator of the fake news website Before It's News who also manages a cryptocurrency hedge fund, joined the paper's board as vice president in 2017.[32]


ÉpoqueTimes office in Montreal's Chinatown in 2015

The Epoch Times publishes in 21 languages and 33 countries, and has print editions in eight languages: Chinese, English, Spanish, Hebrew, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, and Indonesian.[36] They were incorporated Epoch Times London in October 2014.[37] Special print editions have also been erratically published in France.

In April 2019, videos and ads from the Epoch Media Group including The Epoch Times and New Tang Dynasty (NTD) totaled 3 billion views on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, according to the analytics company Tubular. That ranked it 11th among all video creators, and ahead of any other traditional news publisher, according to NBC News.[29]

According to a Facebook report released in August 2021, a subscription page for The Epoch Times received 44.2 million views between April and June 2021. As of August 2021, the Facebook page for The Epoch Times had 9 million followers.

Editorial stance

According to The Epoch Times, the founders immigrated to the United States in the late 1990s with a vision centered on the principles of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the pursuit of happiness. It is also stated in their About section that they held a deep reverence for the founding fathers of the United States and were inspired by the American populace, viewing a nation founded on rights and virtues as a beacon of hope for themselves and their families. In line with their ideals, they established a non-profit media entity dedicated to independently reporting truth, untethered from the influence of corporate, political, or financial interests. In stark contrast to the deceptive assertion by the Chinese Communist Party that "your voice is our voice," The Epoch Times' objective is not to impose its own perspective, but rather to amplify the voices of its audience.[3]

The Epoch Times is an ardent opponent of the Chinese Communist Party.[29] In 2016, it received significant attention for its coverage of the Trump administration.[29] According to NBC News, The Epoch Times "generally stayed out of U.S. politics" before 2016 "unless they dovetailed with Chinese interests".[29]

The Epoch Times picks up mainstream newswire stories and in some areas of distribution can resemble a community newspaper.[38] According to sociologist Yuezhi Zhao, "While mainstream newspapers 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."[14]

Notable coverage

"Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party" editorials

In November 2004, the Chinese version of The Epoch Times published a series of editorials titled "Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party". The editorials argued that China would not be free or prosperous until it was rid of the party, which it said was at odds with China's cultural and spiritual values.[39] The Epoch Times also organized a campaign called the Tuidang movement, urging people to quit the Chinese Communist Party, and said that more than 2 million people had resigned.[40] A report by the OpenNet Initiative said that 90% of websites mentioning the phrase "Nine Commentaries" were blocked in mainland China as of 2005.[41][42]

Caylan Ford, a former staff writer for The Epoch Times, wrote in a 2009 guest opinion article in The Christian Science Monitor that millions of copies of the "Nine Commentaries" articles were circulated in China by email, fax, and underground printing houses. Ford wrote that the campaign differed from the 1989 and 2008 democracy movements in China by drawing on Buddhist and Daoist spirituality.[39]

In 2012, a former People's Liberation Army Air Force officer testified to the United States Congressional-Executive Commission on China that he had been sentenced to four years of prison for distributing a "Nine Commentaries" DVD in Beijing.[43]

Trump coverage

Woman at Million MAGA March on November 14, 2020, in Washington, D.C., distributing copies of The Epoch Times featuring a headline that quotes Donald Trump's claim about the results of the 2020 United States presidential election.

The media landscape during the 2016 U.S. presidential election in which Trump prevailed, and the aftermath of the 2020 election wherein Biden prevailed shared some notable similarities. It was duly noted that mainstream media's coverage of Hillary Clinton was far more positive than the coverage of Trump.[44] Kyle Pope, former editor in chief and publisher of the Columbia Journalism Review stated: "No narrative did more to shape Trump’s relations with the press than Russiagate. The story, which included the Steele dossier and the Mueller report among other totemic moments, resulted in Pulitzer Prizes as well as embarrassing retractions and damaged careers."[45] In contrast, The Epoch Times had a notable role in their reporting of Trump and Russiagate, or Spygate as they referred to it.[46][47][48]

The Epoch Times faced significant criticism from left-leaning media outlets before, during, and after the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections. They were accused of promoting conspiracy theories, particularly those endorsed by President Trump and his supporters. For example, Axios claimed that The Epoch Times had published articles indulging in these theories. They also pointed out that the paper had devoted substantial sections to 'Spygate,' a term used to describe a conspiracy to undermine Trump through investigations into Russian election meddling. Congressional Republicans even cited The Epoch Times' coverage in their defense against impeachment charges in late 2019.[49]

It was not until after the Mueller report and Durham report were made public, that it became evident the conspiracy theories were not baseless as mainstream media had previously asserted. The reports provided information that lent credibility to the claims made by The Epoch Times. For instance, the reports shed light on aspects related to the investigations into Russian election meddling, validating some of the concerns raised by the paper.

The Epoch Times was also accused of reporting baseless allegations that the Chinese government manipulated votes in the 2020 election to favor Joe Biden.[49] The investigation into election interference by Dan Coats, U.S. Director of National Intelligence, concluded there was "no evidence of penetration into U.S. voting systems"; however, he did confirm that “Russia, and other foreign countries, including China and Iran, conducted influence activities and messaging campaigns targeted at the United States to promote their strategic interests.” USA Today fact-checked some of the claims of vote manipulation favoring Biden and published incidents that did show "a sudden increase in Biden votes" in Michigan that were attributed to typos and immediately corrected. In Virginia, there "were 100,000 Central Absentee Precinct ballots that were mistakenly entered for Joe Biden in Fairfax County's unofficial election results spreadsheet, but the error was quickly noticed and fixed." In Wisconsin, "a data entry error by the Associated Press left presidential totals transposed for several minutes, but election officials were not involved." In Michigan, the "board of canvassers did initially split in a 2-2 vote, officials reversed course a few hours later and certified election results in Wayne County based on the condition that a comprehensive audit be conducted on precincts with out-of-balance tallies." They also reported on the "claim that voter turnout from noncitizens affected the popular vote in the 2020 presidential race in battleground states" stating that it is plausible but unproven."[50] In light of these developments, it can be said that the reporting of The Epoch Times on certain issues turned out to be accurate, whereas mainstream media faced criticism for their initial dismissal of these claims.

Censorship by the Chinese government

In some cases The Epoch Times operates in a hostile overseas environment, in which "overseas Chinese media companies choosing to remain independent or publish non-approved content become the targets of an aggressive campaign of elimination or control."[51] In one instance, Chinese diplomatic officials made threats against media for reporting Falun Gong-related content; in other cases, advertisers and distributors have been threatened for supporting The Epoch Times. Communist Party authorities have been accused of resorting to "militant methods" against the paper and its staff, including attacking staff and destroying computer equipment.[51]

In 2006, the International Federation of Journalists criticized what it called a "dirty war" against The Epoch Times, citing incidents such as The Epoch Times's Hong Kong printing plant being broken into and damaged by unidentified men, and Epoch's offices in Sydney and Toronto receiving suspicious mail envelopes suspected of containing toxic materials. The IFJ also noted incidences of Epoch Times staff and advertisers being intimidated, and newspapers being confiscated, in what it characterized as "a vicious witch-hunt aimed at crushing the voice of dissent."[52]

The newspaper was briefly banned from Malaysia after coming under reported pressure by the Chinese Communist Party.[20]

In 2016, the newspaper was removed from the pharmacy of Australian National University after the president of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association confronted the pharmacist and threw out the papers. The incident drew national media coverage over questions of Chinese government-sponsored overseas student organizations.[53][54]

In November 2019, Reporters Without Borders called on Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to protect press freedoms after The Epoch Times said four masked arsonists with batons had damaged its printing press.[55] Additionally, in a 2019 report, Reporters Without Borders said that The Epoch Times's chief technical officer, Li Yuan, was assaulted in his Atlanta, Georgia, home on February 8, 2006, by "suspected Chinese government agents" who took his two laptops.[56]

On April 12, 2021, the Hong Kong printing facility was vandalized during working hours, in the presence of staff members. The attack was filmed by CCTV.[ambiguous][57][58]

The 2022 film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was blocked from release in China after the film was submitted for review and footage that made reference to The Epoch Times was found.[59]


The Epoch Times has been criticized by some scholars for biases, particularly regarding the Chinese Communist Party and mainland China issues, as well as for being a "mouthpiece" of the Falun Gong movement.[62] James To, a New Zealand political scientist, described The Epoch Times as the "primary mouthpiece" of Falun Gong, writing that it "lacks credibility", despite the newspaper posing a "viable threat to the CCP" by publishing articles about the party's negative aspects.[63]

In his book Blocked on Weibo: What Gets Suppressed on China's Version of Twitter and Why, University of Toronto research fellow Jason Q. Ng referred to the paper's coverage of mainland China issues as "heavily biased against the Communist Party" and thus its reportage "should be viewed skeptically."[64]

A 2018 report by the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank, called The Epoch Times one of the few independent Chinese-language media outlets in the U.S. not taken over by businessmen sympathetic to the Chinese government. The report also said that reports on China by The Epoch Times and other outlets affiliated with Falun Gong, which is banned from China, are "uneven."[28]

Joan Donovan of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University called The Epoch Times "a known disinformation operation."[65]

James Bettinger, a professor of communications at Stanford University and the director of the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships, said "Even if 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."[38] Orville Schell, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at University of California, Berkeley, 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."[66]

In his 2008 book on Falun Gong, David Ownby wrote that The Epoch Times articles are "well written and interesting, if occasionally idiosyncratic in their coverage."[27][67][68] According to Ownby, the newspaper has been praised and also criticized for a perceived bias against the CCP, and support of Falun Gong practitioners and other dissidents such as Tibetans, Taiwanese independence advocates, democracy activists, Uyghurs and others. The paper is therefore often assessed in light of its connection to Falun Gong, rather than a thorough analysis of its editorial content.[69]

Jiao Guobiao, a former Beijing University journalism professor who was dismissed after criticizing the Propaganda Department, proposed that even if The Epoch Times published only negative information highly critical of the CCP, its attacks could never begin to counterbalance the propaganda the party publishes about itself. In addressing media balance, Jiao noted that the Chinese public lacked negative, critical information about 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."[60]

Haifeng Huang, professor of political science at the University of California, said, "I'm not exactly clear why they have become such a major pro-Trump voice" but "part of it is perhaps because they regard President Trump as tough on the Chinese government and therefore a natural ally for them."[70]

In December 2019, the English Wikipedia deprecated the English and Chinese online versions of The Epoch Times as an "unreliable source" to use as a reference in Wikipedia, with editors calling it "an advocacy group for the Falun Gong, and... a biased or opinionated source that frequently publishes conspiracy theories."[71]

Following is an excerpt quoted from the presentation by Representative Ralph Norman (R-SC) which he presented to the U.S. House of Representatives on July 7, 2023 for entry into the Congressional Record:

Just like its Chinese companion, The Epoch Times prides itself on being independent and serving the interests of the readers. Under its slogan ‘‘Truth and Tradition,’’ The Epoch Times adheres to the best practices and highest principles of journalism and seeks to highlight the best of humanity. ~[72]


In 2014, the newspaper's reporting won several journalism awards.[73]


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