The FLG's shortwave radio station The Sound of Hope is the main method of reaching their supporters in mainland China. Sound of Hope programs allege persecution and torture by the Peoples Republic of China, and as you might expect, the Chinese go to incredible efforts to ensure the station is basically impossible to listen to by jamming the station.
The Chinese Firedrake Jammer (also known as FireDragon) is a powerful transmitter that sits on top of the same frequency as the Sound of Hope. Firedrake covers the Falun Gong programming with loud Chinese Classical Music featuring gongs, flutes and drums. The Firedrake music is so intense that it usually completely dominates the frequency with the Falun Gong program underneath it becoming unintelligible.
Shortwave Radio Enthusiasts and Ham Radio operators have been watching China's Firedrake with interest. They believe that the primary Firedrake transmitter location is on Hainan Island off the coast of Southern China, however it is believed that there may be other transmitter sites also in use. It has also been noted that the Firedrake audio is a one hour loop with no announcements. This got us thinking at Satdirectory; how does the Firedrake programming get to the transmitter site? Is it delivered by a tape or CD on repeat, or is it like most other Chinese radio, delivered by a satellite link to the transmitter?
Well, a search with our 3 meter dish has found Firedrake! The audio is transmitted on Chinasat 6B within the China National Radio (CNR) satellite feed circuits. Many of the China National Radio feeds are in stereo, however one channel that is solely mono is CNR 8 – The Voice of the Minorities broadcast which features programs in the Kazakh, Korean, Mongolian, Tibetan and Uighur languages. The CNR 8 audio feed to the Chinese transmitter sites can be found on the left audio channel of a feed circuit labelled "Lzh8Rdjy". On the right audio channel of this feed is the audio for the Firedrake transmitters.
Following our discovery we tuned up a shortwave receiver to 17780 kHz which at the time also had the jammer running. The audio from the satellite feed and the shortwave radio were synchronised with no delay. This confirmed that the Firedrake shortwave transmitter site was also being fed by the same satellite feed, otherwise we would have expected a delay of a second or so due to the satellite uplink and downlink path delay when compared to the shortwave broadcast.
Satdirectory can confirm that the Firedrake audio program is exactly 60 minutes (down to the second actually) and we have made a full studio quality copy of the broadcast which can be made available on CD for study and academic use on request.