BEIJING - China has rejected the appeal of four members of the Falun Gong group, upholding jail terms of three to eight years for distributing materials about the banned spiritual movement, the Xinhua news agency said on Wednesday.
The four -- whose names were given as Pan You, Mu Chunyan, Chen Suping and Zhang Lixin -- printed pamphlets and CD-Roms about Falun Gong, which they distributed in Beijing, it said.
"This has undermined the legal order of the state," Xinhua said. "The volume of promotional material distributed was huge, and this had serious consequences."
China branded Falun Gong an "evil cult" last year and banned the group. Falun Gong combines meditation and breathing exercises with a doctrine loosely rooted in Buddhist and Taoist teachings.
Practitioners have said some 50,000 followers have been detained and many sent to labour camps without trial.
The four were originally sentenced on December 5 but appealed. The Beijing High People's Court rejected the appeal on Monday, citing the huge amount of material.
Xinhua said the four printed several hundred thousand pages on a photocopying machine and printer and distributed more than 3,000 sets of material.
The court upheld a sentence of eight years for Pan, seven years for Mu, seven years for Chen and three years for Zhang, it said.
The United States is pressing China to free a U.S.-based Falun Gong member sentenced to three years in jail earlier this month for documenting a crackdown on the spiritual movement.
U.S. officials have called for the release of 37-year-old Teng Chunyan, after a Beijing court sentenced her for "spying for overseas organisations and illegally providing intelligence on the state."
A Hong Kong-based human rights group said Teng had been collecting evidence about the detention of Falun Gong members in a Beijing mental hospital.
BEIJING) - A Chinese court has rejected appeals by four Falun Gong followers, upholding the prison sentences they were handed for spreading information about the banned group, official media reported Wednesday.
Reports by the Beijing city government's newspaper and television station were the first official word on the fates of Pang You, Mu Chunyan, Chen Suping and Zhang Lixin. The four are among tens of thousands of Falun Gong members who have been detained since China outlawed the group 17 months ago.
Followers of Falun Gong insist their exercises and philosophy - drawn from Buddhism, Taoism and sect founder Li Hongzhi - promote health and are not political. But the government, fearing Falun Gong's popularity, banned the group as a public menace and threat to Communist Party rule in July 1999.
The cases reported Wednesday shed light on the group's resilience and the government's frustrations in suppressing it.
The four whose appeals were rejected had set up a high-tech printing shop in a rural village north of Beijing in August, the Beijing Daily and Beijing Television reported. There, the reports said, they used photocopiers, digital printers and other equipment to produce tens of thousands of pages and 200 video CDs on Falun Gong. They used various means to disseminate the materials, including posting them in public places, the reports said.
Police arrested Pang and Zhang in late September and took the other two into custody shortly thereafter, the reports said.
In an ostensibly public trial on Nov. 11, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court convicted the four of ``using an evil cult to undermine the law,'' the reports said. Pang was sentenced to eight years in prison, Mu and Chen to seven years and Zhang to three.
The reports singled out Pang for particular criticism. Detained previously and released on parole, Pang continued to take part in Falun Gong activities, participating in a group meditation display in Beijing's Fragrant Hills park in June, the reports said.
``After the government outlawed the Falun Gong cult and forbid taking part in its activities, (they) still participated in the evil cult's activities,'' the Beijing Daily quoted the Beijing Higher People's Court as saying in its Monday ruling on the appeal.
Their claims ``that their behavior constitutes no crime and their defense of innocence are untenable,'' the court said.
Beijing Television showed the four sitting impassively as the presiding judge read the decision. Chen, wrapped in a blue military-style overcoat, kept his eyes shut as if in meditation.
BEIJING - At least 30 Falun Gong practitioners were removed from Beijing's Tiananmen Square Tuesday after unfurling banners that said ''Falun Gong is Good.''
One protester ran around the 1-square-kilometer open space yelling the same slogan before plainclothes policemen finally tackled him to the ground.
He and other middle-aged men and women were tackled and kicked by groups of policemen -- some in uniform and others not -- before being carried to five waiting police vans.
This is the second time this month Falun Gong adherents have protested in Beijing's largest and most famous public space. The first was Dec. 10, when approximately two dozen protesters were detained after staging demonstrations to coincide with World Human Rights Day.
The spiritual group has continued to employ a variety of techniques to try to win public sympathy and official approval since the government declared the sect evil and illegal last July.
The group coordinated a 10,000-member sit-in in front of the central government's Zhongnanhai compound last April after becoming frustrated by Beijing's refusal to grant official approval.
Despite a nationwide purge of Falun Gong adherents begun last October and characterized by regular arrests, maltreatment and torture in some cases, the group has managed to keep a place in the public consciousness through sporadic demonstrations and signs placed conspicuously around the capital and elsewhere.
TAIPEI - About 2,000 followers of the Falun Gong spiritual sect banned in China marched through Taipei on Sunday, mourning their Chinese brethren and urging Taiwan to invite the group's leader to visit.
They carried flowers, banners and pictures of what they said were 103 members of the sect tortured to death in Chinese police custody.
"Stop persecuting Falun Gong," read a huge banner.
Chang Ching-hsi, an economics professor and president of Falun Gong's Taiwan branch, asked government human rights groups to invite the sect's reclusive leader Li Hongzhi to visit.
"Many Taiwan practitioners have never seen Master Li. We hope he can come," Chang told Reuters.
Political analysts said a visit to Taiwan by Li, who lives in self-imposed exile in the United States, was certain to infuriate China and plunge relations with Taiwan into crisis.
Falun Gong is a mixture of Buddhism, Taoism, meditation and breathing exercises designed to harness energy in the body and heal. Beijing branded it a cult and banned it last year for challenging the Communist Party's monopoly of power.
Li, who has rarely been seen in public since China launched a harsh crackdown on the group, has been accused of masterminding a siege of Beijing's Zhongnanhai leadership compound by 10,000 members of the sect last year and plotting to overthrow the government.
Sect members dismissed the accusations. "It's not a cult," said Sven Olausson, a 41-year-old technician from Sweden who has practised Falun Gong for more than five years.
"Li Hongzhi is very kind and very great," added Poul Anderson, a 72-yrear-old retired aviation official from Denmark.
About 500 adherents from 17 countries and territories flew in for the silent protest march, which ended peacefully.
"GREATER THAN JESUS AND BUDDHA"
Li preaches salvation from a world corrupted by science, technology and decadence, and says he outranks Jesus and Buddha. He says Falun Gong is apolitical and poses no threat to Beijing.
Hui Kwok-hung, a 48-year-old Hong Kong civil servant who attended the rally with his wife and their two children, was convinced Li has done nothing wrong and that practising Falun Gong was good for his health and morals.
China says the movement has caused the deaths of about 1,400 followers who tried to heal themselves by practising breathing exercises and meditation instead of seeking medical help.
Human rights groups say China has jailed 50,000 Falun Gong followers, many of whom were sent to labour camps without trial.
Zhang Cuiying, a 38-year-old artist from Shanghai who is now an Australian citizen, said Chinese authorities jailed her for eight months and tortured her when she visited China last year.
"They punched me and hit me on the head until I couldn't move. They locked me up with male inmates," Zhang said in an interview. "They vowed to make it living hell for me."
Taiwan Vice President Annette Lu, reviled by Beijing for her pro-independence stand, attended a rally on Saturday by more than 1,000 Falun Gong members in central Taipei.
Her action is almost certain to further anger Beijing, which has threatened to attack Taiwan if it declares independence.
In Macau last week, Chinese President Jiang Zemin issued a steely warning against dissent as police dragged off more than a dozen protesting Falun Gong followers.
TAIPEI - Taiwan Vice President Annette Lu, reviled by Beijing for her pro-independence stand, lent support on Saturday to China's outlawed Falun Gong spiritual sect in a move certain to further anger the Chinese.
Lu, denounced by Chinese state media as "the scum of the nation," attended a rally staged by about 1,000 Falun Gong practitioners from 15 countries in central Taipei in a show of support for the sect.
"I wish you success in your character cultivation and martial art practice," Lu told the adherents who held fluorescent glow sticks to mourn mainland brethren either dead in Chinese custody or still languishing in prison.
There was no immediate comment from Beijing, which branded Falun Gong a cult and banned it in 1999 for challenging the Communist Party's monopoly on power.
Falun Gong -- a mixture of Buddhism, Taoism, meditation and breathing exercises designed to harness energy in the body and heal -- claims 100 million members worldwide. China puts its domestic membership at two million.
Human rights groups say dozens of Falun Gong adherents have died in custody after torture by Chinese police. About 50 have been sent to mental institutions.
"The Chinese Communist regime is scared of us because of our huge numbers," Liao Chung-shu, a 47-year-old retired Taiwan soldier, told Reuters.
Political analysts said Taiwan risked further souring bilateral relations by letting Falun Gong stage the rally in Taipei, and allowing Chinese followers living overseas to visit. Taiwan restricts visits by mainlanders.
Beijing is deeply suspicious of Lu and her pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party and has threatened to attack if Taiwan were to declare statehood.
In Macau last week, Chinese President Jiang Zemin issued a steely warning against dissent as police dragged off more than a dozen protesting Falun Gong practitioners.
Sect members say China has jailed 50,000 Falun Gong followers as part of a harsh government crackdown on the group. Many have been sent to labour camps to undergo "re-education," administrative punishment that requires no judicial process.
Defiant practitioners have repeatedly staged bold protests on Beijing's Tiananmen Square, where the Chinese army crushed student-led demonstrations for democracy in 1989.
Beijing denies persecuting Falun Gong members, saying China is a country ruled by law. China says the movement has caused the deaths of about 1,400 adherents who tried to heal themselves by practising Falun Gong instead of seeking medical help.
Zhu Jiang, a Chinese Falun Gong adherent who lives in the United States, dismissed the accusations.
"I saw and heard master Li with my own eyes and ears. Many media reports are not true and fabricated," she said, referring to the group's reclusive leader Li Hongzhi.
Li, who lives in self-imposed exile in the United States, insists Falun Gong is apolitical and poses no threat to Communist rule. He preaches salvation from a world corrupted by science, technology and decadence.
The sect shot to fame last year when 10,000 members caught Chinese police by surprise by sneaking up and staging a sit-down protest outside Beijing's Zhongnanhai leadership compound.
MACAU -- China's president praised Macau on Wednesday for dealing ``a heavy blow on various evil forces'' after a year of Chinese rule in which local gangsters stopped killing each other but some activists have found they are not welcome.
Marking the first anniversary of the return of the formerly Portuguese gambling enclave, Jiang Zemin urged Macau to prevent activities ``against the central government.''
About 15 practitioners of the Falun Gong, a meditation sect outlawed in mainland China but legal in Macau, were herded into police vans early Wednesday and forced to show identification papers before being allowed to resume exercises in a park.
``It was a misunderstanding, I guess,'' said Lam Iat-meng, who had complained earlier about 24-hour surveillance and a police raid on his home Monday with no warrant.
An Australian woman said she was kicked in the stomach and beaten with a mobile phone.
``It's the most alarming thing I've ever experienced,'' Kelly Kong told a press conference in Hong Kong.
``There is no reason, no law in Macau. All the laws are fake.''
More Falun Gong followers set out for Macau on a ferry from Hong Kong and were sent back by immigration authorities Wednesday, said Falun Gong spokesman Kan Hung-cheung in Hong Kong. Macau officials declined comment.
In a day of anniversary pomp, Jiang stood at attention in an audience of local officials facing big Chinese and Macau flags. A band played China's national anthem.
Without directly referring to Falun Gong, Jiang praised Macau's stepped-up security.
Macau had been afflicted by dozens of assassinations each year carried out by its infamous Chinese organized-crime gangs.
There has been just one such killing since the handover.
Macau ``has dealt a heavy blow on various evil forces,'' Jiang said.
Jiang added that Macau ``should take concrete measures to defend the national interests and the authority of the central government and should never allow anyone to stage any activities in Macau against the central government or to split the country.''
WASHINGTON - A petition will be filed in U.S. federal court this week asking the government to free the leader of Chinese spiritual sect Zhong Gong who is in detention on Guam, a lawyer said on Wednesday.
Thomas Yale, a lawyer with Hemenway and Associates, said he would file a petition of "habeas corpus" which asks the judge to determine the legality of the confinement. The petition was to be filed in U.S. District Court in Washington on Thursday, he said at a media briefing.
The sect has said its leader, Zhang Hongbao, has suffered "inhumane treatment" in detention on the U.S.-administered island of Guam.
Zhang is on the seventh day of a hunger strike and pro-democracy China activists planned to meet with him Thursday in Guam and also to ask for a meeting with the Immigration and Naturalization Service office there.
"There is no good reason for this man to still be incarcerated after his INS hearing of September," said Timothy Cooper, international director of the Free China Movement, in a conference call to the briefing from Guam.
"He was granted protection under the convention against torture," and the United States has also acted so he cannot be returned to China," he said.
"So it is as though he were caught in some kind of diabolical twilight zone," Cooper said.
The sect has said Zhang was beaten by guards when they saw him practising Zhong Gong, a mystical and meditative movement which has been banned in communist China as an "evil cult."
Beijing has accused Zhang of raping followers. His sect says China fabricated the charges in a ploy to punish and discredit political enemies without provoking criticism over human rights.
After six years exile outside China, Zhang went to Guam in late January to seek political asylum and the island's immigration authority has since kept him in detention, the sect said. The United States gave him "protection status" but not political asylum.
HONG KONG - Chinese President Jiang Zemin told Macao on Wednesday to prevent anyone from taking actions against Beijing or ''splitting'' the country as the enclave celebrated its first anniversary of reunion with China.
Jiang also asked the people of Macao, as well as of Hong Kong, to support their chief executives' work and said the mass media should be aware of their ''social responsibilities.''
Beijing will continue to give ''unfailing support'' to the two special administrative regions (SARs) for their development and will not interfere with their local affairs, the Chinese leader said.
''The Macao SAR on its part should take concrete measures to defend the national interests and the authority of the central Chinese government and should never allow anyone to stage any activities in Macao against the central government or to split the country,'' Jiang said at the ceremony marking the reversion in Macao.
And even as the Chinese leader spoke, Macao police pulled about 20 Falun Gong followers away from a remote park where the group, banned in China as an evil cult, was given approval to do meditation and breathing exercises.
Footage aired by Hong Kong's Cable Television news showed police officers forcibly removing the practitioners and seizing banners while some women members cried out and struggled against the police.
The group members, including followers from Macao, Hong Kong and Australia, were later freed and allowed to practice their exercise again, according to Kan Hung-cheung, a spokesman for the Falun Gong movement in Hong Kong.
Macao police have taken heavy-handed measures against dissidents who wanted to petition Jiang since before the Chinese leader's arrival from Beijing on Tuesday night.
On Wednesday, the Macao authorities denied entry to about 20 Falun Gong members. They barred about 30 sect members and pro-democracy campaigners from Hong Kong from the enclave Tuesday, activists said.
One woman Falun Gong practitioner from Australia, Kelly Kong-Xu, accused Macao officers of beating her when she tried to enter the enclave Wednesday.
Kong-Xu said several officers at the entry point attacked her with fists and knee-kicks to the stomach and hit her forehead with a mobile phone.
''I was then carried and dragged to the terminal and sent back on ferry,'' she told reporters in Hong Kong.
Another Hong Kong member also claimed she was beaten during detention in Macao on Tuesday.
At least 30 Falun Gong members were taken away from their rallies and briefly detained Tuesday, the movement members said. Those followers who are not Macao residents were later expelled, they added.
The Falun Gong movement was outlawed and labeled an ''evil cult'' in China last year following a peaceful and silent protest by 10,000 members outside Zhongnanhai, the compound of Chinese leaders in Beijing.
Hong Kong and Macao allow the followers to practice their spiritual exercises as long as they abide by the law.
Apparently addressing recent public grievances and media criticism of the administrations of both Macao and Hong Kong, Jiang said Wednesday it is essential to create a favorable social environment for long-term prosperity, stability and development in Macao.
''In a modern society, the mass media have great influence on people, which requires that the media not only value the freedom of the press but also pay attention to their social responsibilities and play a more positive role in matters bearing on Macao's prosperity and stability and the interests of the state and the people,'' Jiang said.
''Although Hong Kong is not the same in all aspects as Macao, I believe what I have touched upon is also relevant to Hong Kong,'' Jiang added later.
Last month the Chinese president threw a tantrum before a group of Hong Kong reporters in Beijing when they suggested Beijing will make an ''imperial choice'' for Hong Kong's next chief executive. He slammed the territory's media for being ''simple and naive.''
In his speech Wednesday, Jiang credited Macao's Chief Executive Edmund Ho and his administration for bettering the enclave's situation since its reunion with China.
Since the handover from long-time colonial ruler Portugal, the most obvious sign of improvement was a dip in serious crimes and gang wars over casino interests, which became rampant near the end of Portugal's 442-year rule. Many see the decline in crime as a direct result of the presence of Chinese troops in the enclave.
The economy has also been recovering, with the unemployment rate edging down to 6.7% in the July-September quarter.
Yet many of Macao's 437,500 citizens still worry about their jobs. Hundreds of unemployed took to the streets at least four times during the past year to air grievances.
Despite his stern speech, Jiang was in a good mood and later went onto the stage to sing with performers at the celebration event.
HONG KONG - At least two groups of Hong Kong activists said Monday they will petition Chinese President Jiang Zemin in Macao on Tuesday to urge him free all political prisoners in China and end the persecution of the Falun Gong movement.
Jiang is to arrive in Macao on Tuesday afternoon to attend the celebrations marking the enclave's first anniversary of return to Chinese rule.
But it is uncertain the activists will be allowed to enter Macao or their appeal letters to the Chinese leader as Macao has tightened security.
Three members of the Buddhist-oriented Falun Gong were reportedly barred from entry to Macao last week.
Frank Lu, of the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy, said he and about 10 democracy activists plan to appeal to Jiang to immediately release 5,000 political prisoners, particularly Xu Wenli, Qin Yongmin and Wang Youcai.
Xu, Qin and Wang were sentenced to jail ranging from 11 years to 13 years Dec. 20, 1998, for subversion.
Lu said the three, all members of the banned China Democracy Party, are sick and deprived of medical treatment in prison.
''The first anniversary of Macao's reunification with China also marks the second anniversary of Beijing's crackdown on the China Democracy Party,'' Lu said.
''We want to petition Jiang so that all political prisoners will be freed,'' he added.
In their open letter to Jiang, the Hong Kong activists also called on the Chinese authorities to give the freedoms of speech, publication, assembly and association to the Chinese people and lift bans on political parties and media organizations.
Meanwhile, about 20 Hong Kong followers of Falun Gong, which has been outlawed in China, said they will go to Macao on Tuesday to join in a peaceful rally organized by Macao practitioners.
They said they also want to call on Jiang to stop persecuting their movement in China.
Last year, a group of Hong Kong and overseas Falun Gong members were detained by Macao police at a rally just hours before the enclave was handed back to China by Portugal at midnight Dec. 19.
Lu, of the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy, said they will demand an explanation from the Macao authorities if they are barred from entering the enclave.
Washington -- The U.S. State Department today protested China's destruction of at least one Christian church and efforts to stamp out the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement.
``Coming at the eve of the celebration of Christmas around the world, it seems particularly cruel,'' State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters in Washington. ``We're appalled.''
The State Department has ``independent confirmation'' that China destroyed a church in Wenzhou, Boucher said. China has also recently jailed Teng Chunyan, a U.S. national, for exposing China's practice of holding Falun Gong followers in mental institutions.
China banned the Falun Gong in July last year, calling it an ``evil cult'' that was plotting to overthrow China's socialist system. The crackdown came after more than 10,000 followers of the spiritual movement gathered in central Beijing in April last year.
No spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington was available for comment.
``We've urged China to cease the demolitions, to respect fundamental, internationally recognized human rights, the free exercise of religion, belief and conscience,'' Boucher said. ``These are issues that we are concerned about that we do continue to push, and we will continue to push.''
Teng, who emigrated to the U.S. eight years ago and is married to a U.S. citizen, was convicted at a three-hour, closed- door trial in Beijing in November, the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said.
Some 20,000 Falun Gong members have been temporarily detained, 10,000 placed in labor camps and 600 sent to mental hospitals. Some 59 have died in police custody, the Information Center said.
Falun Gong members follow a mixture of Daoist and Buddhist doctrines and say the movement is not a political organization.
BEIJING - The United States is pressing China to free a U.S.-based Falun Gong member sentenced to three years in jail for documenting a crackdown on the spiritual movement, U.S. officials said.
U.S. diplomats in Beijing called for the release of 37-year-old Teng Chunyan in high-level meetings at the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday and Wednesday, and Washington raised her case with the Chinese embassy, a U.S. official told Reuters.
A Beijing court sentenced Teng on Tuesday after convicting her of "spying for overseas organisations and illegally providing intelligence on the state," a Chinese cabinet spokesman said on Thursday.
A Hong Kong-based human rights group said Teng had been collecting evidence about the detention of Falun Gong members in a Beijing mental hospital.
"We've asked them to release her and return her to her family in the United States," a U.S. official said.
The United States had issued repeated protests about Teng's case before the court verdict was announced.
U.S. officials were barred from attending the November trial, and although Beijing is obliged to grant U.S. diplomats access to American citizens arrested in China, Teng is a permanent resident rather than a full citizen of the United States.
Her husband is an American citizen.
DEPORTATION STATUTE "DOES NOT APPLY"
A spokesman for the Chinese State Council, or cabinet, said Teng entered China in May on a private Chinese passport. She was tried by the No. 1 Intermediate People's Court in Beijing in November on suspicion of spying.
Asked whether Beijing would consider deporting Teng, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said:
"The question of deportation applies to foreigners."
"Teng Chunyan is a Chinese citizen so the deportation statute does not apply to her," she said.
China has in the past sent into exile dissidents whose imprisonment antagonised relations with Washington. Dissidents generally have been released on medical parole. It is unclear whether Teng has plans for an appeal.
Falun Gong combines meditation and breathing exercises with a doctrine loosely rooted in Buddhist and Taoist teachings.
Practitioners have said some 50,000 followers have been detained and many sent to labour camps without trial.
The Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy described Teng as an acupuncturist who taught at the New York Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
She emailed pictures out of China as part of her investigation into reports that Beijing authorities had committed 50 Falun Gong members to a mental institute in January, it said.
HONG KONG, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Followers of the Falun Gong spiritual movement have asked Macau's government to allow them to stage "peaceful appeal activities" in the former Portuguese-ruled territory on the anniversary of its reversion to Chinese rule.
The campaign is planned to take place in the presence of Chinese President Jiang Zemin, who will be in Macau on December 20 for the first anniversary of the 1999 handover.
Just hours before the transfer of rule, Macau police had seized about 40 adherents of Falun Gong, which is banned in China but not in Macau. Most of them were foreign passport holders practising Falun Gong outside Macau's biggest casino.
A group of practitioners from Hong Kong and overseas said in a statement on Thursday they had sent a letter to Edmund Ho, the Beijing-anointed leader of Macau, to ask to be allowed to enter the enclave to appeal peacefully for their movement.
In the letter dated Wednesday, the practitioners also asked to be allowed to submit a petition to Jiang urging Beijing to stop the persecution of Falun Gong.
Macau authorities had already refused entry to three Hong Kong practitioners this month but gave no reason, the statement said.
Macau government officials do not comment on individual cases as a matter of practice.
Falun Gong, which combines meditation and exercise with a doctrine loosely rooted in Buddhist and Taoist teachings, is legal in Hong Kong.
Both Macau and Hong Kong are autonomous administrative regions of China.
HONG KONG - Hong Kong members of the Falun Gong movement banned in China urged Macao on Thursday to allow their fellow practitioners to petition Chinese President Jiang Zemin who is expected to attend the first anniversary of the former Portuguese enclave's return to China next Wednesday.
In a letter to Macao's Chief Executive Edmund Ho, the group said some Hong Kong and overseas followers plan to directly appeal to the Chinese leader to stop persecuting Falun Gong and to hold a peaceful rally in Macao during the anniversary celebrations.
The group also questioned why the Macao authorities refused some Falun Gong practitioners entry to the territory.
Earlier this month, three Hong Kong members were reportedly barred from entering Macao with no reason given.
Their letter to Ho added that more than 10,000 Falun Gong members in mainland China have been jailed or sent to ''reform through labor'' over the past year, and at least 95 followers tortured to death.
The Buddhist-oriented Falun Gong was outlawed in mainland China last year. The Chinese authorities labeled the meditation and exercise group a ''cult.''
But the movement practitioners insist that they follow principles of truthfulness, compassion and tolerance, and only guide people to good.
Last year, just hours before Macao was handed back to China from the Portuguese administration at midnight on Dec. 19, the enclave's police dragged away about 40 Falun Gong members from a public square where Jiang's motorcade was to pass through.
The members from Macao, Japan, Australia and Hong Kong were seized while practicing their meditation and breathing exercises -- in defiance of an earlier police warning against illegal rallies -- but were later released.
What Is Falun Gong? See "Falun Gong 101", by Massimo Introvigne
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