(Bloomberg, December 9, 1999)
The Buddhist group Falun Gong, denounced as an ``evil cult'' by Beijing and banned in the rest of China, can demonstrate in Hong Kong as long as it obeys local laws, the Hong Kong government said.
Stephen Lam, the government's information coordinator, said local laws allow peaceful demonstrations with police permission. The group plans a conference and demonstration of about 1,000 people on Saturday.
``Hong Kong operates under the rule of law which permits any legal organization to legal demonstrations,'' Law said. ``The police have received their application and will handle it under the Public Order Ordinance.''
The police rarely reject application for demonstrations unless they fear violence and previous Falun Gong demonstration in Hong Kong have been peaceful. The city's constitution provides for freedom of religion, and Falun Gong isn't banned in the city.
Mainland China banned Falun Gong on the grounds it was a threat to public order, going as far as to unsuccessfully ask the U.S. government to extradite Li Hongzhi, the group's leader and for the British government to ban him from entering the U.K.
(Agence France Presse, December 9, 1999)
HONG KONG, Dec 9, 1999 -- (Agence France Presse) China has arrested 103 underground religious leaders in the past three weeks, as it extends its crack down on the outlawed Falungong group into other groups suspected of being cults, a human rights group said Thursday.
The people arrested are from groups which combine teachings of Christianity with local culture, the Hong Kong-based Information Centre of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China said in a statement.
In one case in Xiangtan city in Hunan province, police arrested 75 members of the All Scope Sect on November 19.
The sect, also known as Born Again Sect or Callout Sect, was set up in Hunan in 1985 by overseas and local home church groups.
The sect leader Xu Yongze was sentenced to three years in prison in 1997, which ignited international condemnation at the time.
In another case which happened on November 23, at least 15 people from the Orient Lightning Sect were arrested in Henan province's Tanghe county.
In Guangdong province's Nanxiong city, authorities arrested 13 members of the Zhu Shen Sect on November 22.
Since the National People's Congress in October declared a crack down on cults, especially Falungong, authorities have begun treating the groups and seven other relatively large, rural-based Christian groups as evil religions.
These groups are believed to have three million followers in China. Their teachings are based on a combination of Christianity and Chinese local culture.
The information centre said China is unfairly labelling these groups as cults eventhough some of them, including the All Scope Sect and Callout Sect, are considered proper home churches by overseas religious organizations.
But because these two groups refused to submit themselves under the control of the state, so they are labeled evil religions, the information centre said.
China in the past few months has arrested thousands practitioners of Falungong, which authorities consider the biggest threat to political and social stability since the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement.
The group rattled authorities in April when 10,000 members staged a protest in Beijing against arrest of its members.
by Alex Lo ("South China Morning Post", December 9, 1999)
Pro-Beijing politicians yesterday criticised plans for an international Falun Gong conference in Hong Kong this weekend as "inappropriate" and a "slap in the face for China". More than 1,000 local and overseas followers of the religious group, which has been banned as an "evil cult" on the mainland, will hold a day-long conference at the Convention and Exhibition Centre on Sunday.
A mass exercise is also being planned outside Xinhua's headquarters in Happy Valley on Saturday.
"It's a provocation. It's a slap in the face for China," former provisional legislator Elsie Tu said. "They have failed to make an impression on the mainland and so they are trying to do it here in Hong Kong."
Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Standing Committee member Xu Simin said the international conference was inappropriate.
"They know this is the only territory of China where they could hold public meetings and they are taking advantage of that," he said. "It is entirely inappropriate."
But both said there should not be any interference under the "one country two systems" principle.
Yesterday, the group's representatives met police to explain the rallies.
Sect spokesman Tony Chan Wing-Kwong played down the significance of the meetings, saying they offered a chance for followers from different countries to share their experiences.
"We are very low key. Our activities are not intended to have any political significance," he said.
"We would be misunderstood if people think we are trying to make a political statement."
Xinhua vice-director Wang Fengchao hinted last week that Falun Gong members were free to practise in Hong Kong.
Political analyst Lau Siu-kai said the conference and mass exercise were bound to attract attention from the international media. "They will attract a lot of media attention and that in turn will bring pressure on the mainland," said Professor Lau, who is associate director of the Chinese University's Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies.
"There is a possibility that Hong Kong people might think such activities will disrupt Hong Kong and mainland relations. Hong Kong has a vested interest not to be seen as a place for subversives."
Beijing banned Falun Gong - a mixture of breathing exercises, meditation, Buddhism and Taoism - in July after more than 15,000 members demonstrated in the capital.
by Daniel Kwan ("South China Morning Post", December 9, 1999)
China's most famous scientist was rolled out by the authorities yesterday to condemn the outlawed Falun Gong sect. Official media reported that President Jiang Zemin and Vice-Premier Li Lanqing visited Qian Xuesen at his home in Beijing. Professor Qian helped design and test China's nuclear bombs and missiles in the 1950s.
The President praised the 88-year-old professor for his contribution to China's scientific developments and discussed with him its recent successful launch and recovery of an unmanned spacecraft.
In response, the professor gave his "unreserved support" to the leaders' decision to crackdown on the Falun Gong.
"Falun Gong is an evil cult with political motives, and deserves the banning and criticism," the professor was quoted by Xinhua as saying.
"The struggle against evil cults like Falun Gong must be thorough and resolute and we cannot be soft on them.
"I am sure through this struggle, most practitioners [of Falun Gong] must have woken up to their mistakes."
Professor Qian taught aerodynamics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States before he returned to China in the 1950s and took part in Beijing's nuclear programme.
The professor was dubbed China's "father of atomic bomb" and enjoyed respect among intellectual and scientific circles.
Falun Gong was banned in July and declared an "evil cult" in October. Despite the crackdown, tens of thousands of Falun Gong followers continue to defy the ban and petition the authorities.
There have been rumours that Professor Qian is an enthusiastic supporter of qi gong. He reportedly told scientists in Beijing they could achieve a major breakthrough if they could harness supernatural forces through qi gong.
(Associated Press, December 8, 1999)
HONG KONG (AP) -- A spiritual sect outlawed in China plans mass exercises and a conference in Hong Kong this weekend, the group's first large-scale activity in the territory since Beijing banned it. Falun Gong members from Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Australia, the United States and possibly mainland China will attend the two-day Asia-Pacific conference, sect spokesman Tony Chan said Wednesday. The group has also applied for a permit to stage a "gathering" of about 1,000 people Saturday outside the headquarters of Xinhua News Agency, which represents Beijing in Hong Kong, Chan said. Organizers said it is a "sensitive" time for the sect, but attempted to downplay any political significance of the conference. China has banned the sect as a menacing cult, but it is still legal in Hong Kong. "Other people may see great significance in the meetings because Hong Kong is a part of China, and is the only part that has not banned the sect," said organizer Tony Chan. "Our group is nonpolitical." A police spokeswoman, who only gave her surname, Li, said officials were still considering the application for the gathering in front of Xinhua. Members will also attend forums and exercise at the Hong Kong's showcase Convention Center on Sunday, Chan said. Falun Gong blends slow-motion meditation exercises and ideas from Taoism, Buddhism and Falun Gong's U.S.-based founder, ex-government clerk Li Hongzhi. Practitioners say Falun Gong promotes health and good citizenship. Thousands of practitioners converged on Beijing in recent months to protest China's banning of the group, only to be rounded up by police. Hundreds if not thousands of others are in labor camps or in jail, either serving sentences or awaiting trial. Hong Kong, however, was guaranteed a high level of autonomy after its reversion from British to Chinese rule in July 1997, and anti-communist and anti-government protests remain legal.
by Alex Lo ("South China Morning Post", December 8, 1999)
Hong Kong members of the Falun Gong sect banned on the mainland are to host a high-profile in ternational conference for hundreds of overseas followers at the weekend. Organisers said last night that up to 1,000 local and overseas members would attend the meeting at the Convention Centre on Sunday.
A mass outdoor exercise may be staged on Saturday outside Xinhua headquarters in Happy Valley, according to the sect's SAR spokesman, Kan Hung-chung. "That's one option I have heard people discussing," he said.
Members from several countries including Australia, Singapore and possibly the mainland will attend.
The meeting might include discussion of the mainland's crackdown on the sect, Mr Kan said. He said the Convention Centre had already been paid for the booking.
The conference will be the first such gathering in Hong Kong since mainland authorities outlawed the religious sect in July and labelled it an "evil cult" in October.
Fellow member Tony Chan Wing-kwong said such meetings were organised every year.
"It is a bit sensitive to organise the meeting now," he said. "But that is the psychological barrier we have to overcome in order to further improve ourselves in the training."
The State Council Information Office said last week that about 150 Falun members had either been arrested or were being sought, denying reports by a human rights group of 36,000 arrests.
There had been indictments in 20 cases involving 44 people for Falun Gong-related crimes by the end of November, including sect founder Li Hongzhi, who now lives in the United States.
Tsang Yok-sing, a pro-Beijing politician and Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong legislator, said he did not see a problem with the meeting.
"Falun members can organise in Hong Kong under the one country, two systems policy," he said.
The Security Bureau said followers were free to gather as long as they followed the law.
by Willy Wo and Lap Lam ("South China Morning Post", December 8, 1999)
The party leadership has given new orders for more Falun Gong activists to be rounded up before the Lunar New Year. A security source said police authorities in the capital had given rough quotas to some provinces and cities of the number of "dangerous sect members" to be detained to ensure safety during the sensitive period.
Apart from the Falun Gong, about a dozen qi gong cults are also targeted.
The source quoted a senior Politburo member as decrying the danger posed by the Falun Gong, which combines Buddhism and Taoism with breathing exercises and meditation.
"Left unchecked, the Falun Gong could penetrate into all strata of society and deal a frontal blow to the party," the Politburo member reportedly said.
The senior cadre compared the destabilising effects of the Falun Gong to those of the Solidarity labour movement in Poland, which eventually led to the downfall of the Polish Communist Party.
A good proportion of Falun Gong believers are laid-off or retired workers.
But it is understood that different regions and localities are carrying out Beijing's orders with varying degrees of vigour.
"Cadres and police officers in some cities and counties are complaining that they lack the resources to engage in a long-term struggle with Falun Gong activists," a Beijing source said.
"Several local leaders say they do not have enough prisons to hold the detained sect affiliates."
In an interview with Xinhua yesterday, Hou Zongbin, who leads a judicial affairs committee of the National People's Congress, said the struggle against "evil cults" like the Falun Gong would be "long-term and complex".
"At present, we must carry out a persistent propaganda and education campaign of our laws and constitution and fully expose the real nature - endangering people and the society - of evil cults like Falun Gong," Mr Hou said.
He urged police and cadres to draw a distinction between innocent followers who had been "deceived" to challenge the Government and the "handful of criminals who intentionally opposed the Government and disrupt society".
Mr Hou said the authorities would not tolerate any evil cults and vowed to disband them once discovered.
("South China Morning Post", December 8, 1999)
United States President Bill Clinton has criticised the mainland crackdown on the Falun Gong. The President called it a "troubling example" of the Government acting against those "who test the limits of freedom".
"Its targets are not political dissidents and their practices and beliefs are unfamiliar to us," Mr Clinton said.
"But the principle still surely must be the same - freedom of conscience and freedom of association.
"And our interest surely must be the same - seeing China maintain stability and growth at home by meeting, not stifling, the growing demands of its people for openness and accountability."
Mr Clinton's comments were made in a speech when he and wife Hillary marked the 51st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly at the urging of former US first lady Eleanor Roosevelt to assert that "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights".
US National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said the administration had criticised China's actions against the Falun Gong, but Monday's speech in Washington represented Mr Clinton's first direct remarks.
Mr Clinton felt it was important to make a statement, particularly in light of the human rights anniversary, Mr Hammer said.
In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue dismissed Mr Clinton's words, accusing Washington of double standards.
"The US Government has adopted double standards on the cult and also turned a deaf ear to the adverse effect and damage of the Falun Gong to the Chinese people and society, and even tried to beautify this cult and interfere in China's internal affairs," she said.
by Josephine Ma ("South China Morning Post", December 8, 1999)
Three Chinese-Australian women have been kicked out of the mainland after protesting in Beijing's Tiananmen Square against the anti-Falun Gong campaign. Speaking in Hong Kong yesterday, protester Zeng Jianling said they were put in a vehicle after displaying a two- metre-long red banner on the edge of the square on Saturday. The other protesters were Dai Meiling and Yi Qin.
"There were so many police at the square that it was almost impossible to display the banner so we had to choose a quiet corner," said Ms Zeng, who was born in Sichuan province and moved to Australia five years ago.
Ms Zeng said she and her colleagues called for the Government to withdraw its arrest warrant on New York-based Falun Gong founder Li Hongzhi, to "stop persecuting the Falun Gong masses" and to hold peaceful talks to resolve problems with the group.
They were taken to a police station near the square for questioning and then to a hotel, where they spent a night before being escorted by police to the airport and flown out on Sunday morning.
Ms Zeng tried to get a new visa to visit the mainland in Hong Kong on Monday but her application was rejected. She said officials in Beijing had assured them that they would not be blacklisted despite the protest.
Ms Zeng and Ms Yi visited Falun Gong members in Guangzhou and Foshan, in Guangdong, and Xian, Shaanxi province, after arriving on the mainland last week. Some members told them they had been detained and physically abused in custody.
(Agence France Presse, December 7, 1999)
BEIJING, Dec 7, 1999 -- (Agence France Presse) China has expelled three Australian Falungong sect members for demonstrating in Beijing, a Hong Kong-based human rights group said Tuesday.
On Sunday officials put Dai Meiling, Yi Qin and Zeng Jianling on a plane to Hong Kong after they spent a night in jail following their arrest by police on Tiananmen Square Saturday, the Hong Kong-based Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China said.
The three had unfurled a banner calling for an end to attempts by Beijing to extradite the sect's leader Li Hongzhi who lives in the United States and for an end to a crackdown on the movement, the center said Tuesday.
A diplomat at the Australian embassy in Beijing said he was "not aware" of the expulsion.
Four other members of the sect, including two Australians, were arrested on November 25 near the southern city of Guangzhou along with 10 local members at a meeting in a farm house.
Three of the foreign members, including the two Australians, were expelled while the fourth, a Swede was sent back to his school in northeastern China.
Beijing banned the group in July and considers it the biggest threat to its political power and social stability since the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy movement.
(Agence France Presse, December 7, 1999)
BEIJING, Dec 7, 1999 -- (Agence France Presse) China Tuesday rejected criticism by US President Bill Clinton of its crackdown against the Falungong sect as an interference in its internal affairs.
"The Chinese side would like to express its strong dissatisfaction," foreign ministry spokesman Zhang Qiyue said.
"The US government has adopted double standards on the cult, and also turned a deaf ear to the adverse effect and damage of the Falungong to the Chinese people and society and even tried to beautify this cult and interfere in China's internal affairs,"
"We urge the US government to stop doing anything that harms the Chinese people's feelings and also stop erecting new hurdles to Sino-US relations," she told a press conference.
Clinton said at a White House ceremony Monday that while China had made progress and opened to the outside world the attitude of its government when faced with dissent was slowing this progress.
He cited the crackdown on the Falungong as an example.
Beijing banned the group in July and considers it the biggest threat to its political power and social stability since the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy movement.
by John Leicester (Associated Press, December 7, 1999)
BEIJING (AP) - Rebuffing U.S. criticism, China said Tuesday that was protecting the human rights of its citizens by banning the Falun Gong spiritual group.
It accused the United States of ignoring the group's dangers.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue's comments came a day after President Clinton criticized China's crackdown on the multimillion-member group as a ``troubling example'' of the government acting against those ``who test the limits of freedom.'' It was Clinton's first public comment on China's detention and imprisonment of Falun Gong members.
While she didn't mention Clinton by name, Zhang retorted Tuesday that 1,400 people have died through practicing Falun Gong. She said many others became ``mentally disordered, lost their family, wife and children.''
Zhang didn't explain how people have died, but the government has said previously that some Falun Gong practitioners have gone crazy and killed themselves or others.
``The U.S. government has adopted a double standard on the cult and also turned a deaf ear to the adverse effect and the damage of Falun Gong to the Chinese people and society and even tried to beautify this cult and interfere in China's internal affairs,'' she said when asked about Clinton's remarks.
Banning the group protected ``the fundamental human rights and freedoms of the Chinese people,'' she said.
Zhang also expressed ``strong indignation'' over a U.S. government decision to extend a ban on exports of crime control and detection equipment to China for another two years because of religious repression. She demanded the sanctions be repealed, calling them a ``serious violation of the basic norms governing international relations and gross interference in China's internal affairs.''
In September, a State Department report criticized Chinese mistreatment of Tibetan monks, underground Christians and Muslim Uighurs from western China. The report covered a period of 18 months until the middle of this year, just before China banned Falun Gong in July.
Following the report, the U.S. government added China to a list of countries considered of ``particular concern'' because of religious repression. It extended the export sanctions that have been in place since China crushed pro-democracy demonstrations on Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Falun Gong blends slow-motion meditation exercises and ideas from Taoism, Buddhism and Falun Gong's U.S.-based founder, Li Hongzhi. Practitioners say Falun Gong promotes health and good citizenship.
China's government says most members have quit the group since the ban was imposed. But thousands of members converged on Beijing in recent months to protest the crackdown and were rounded up by police. Hundreds if not thousands of others are in labor camps or in jail, either serving sentences or awaiting trial.
A rights group said Tuesday that three Australians who held up signs in Tiananmen Square on Saturday appealing for an end to the crackdown were detained for a day and deported to Hong Kong.
Falun Gong members from the United States, Canada, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia, England, France and other countries plan to meet this weekend in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong-based Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China said. Hong Kong's autonomous status within China has allowed Falun Gong members to continue to practice openly there.
(Associated Press, December 7, 1999)
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Clinton is critical of China's crackdown on the Falun Gong spiritual movement and says Russia ``will pay a heavy price'' if it carries out its threatened destruction of the Chechen capital of Grozny.
In a speech Monday, the president also condemned Afghanistan's ``despicable'' repression of women and girls. He said the United States would spend at least $2 million next year to educate and improve the health of Afghan women and children refugees in Pakistan and would make $1.5 million available in emergency aid for those displaced by the Taliban's recent offensive.
Joined by his wife, Hillary, the president marked the 51st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the United Nations General Assembly adopted at the urging of Eleanor Roosevelt to assert that ``all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.''
The speech contained Clinton's first comments about China's detention and imprisonment of members of the Falun Gong movement.
Thousands of Falun Gong followers reportedly have been detained since the government banned the group four months ago as a threat to its rule. Adherents say Falun Gong, which draws on ideas from Buddhism, Taoism and China's traditional practice of slow-motion exercises and meditation, promotes health and morality.
Clinton expressed alarm about the plight of innocent civilians in the Chechen region of Russia, under siege from Russian artillery and bombs. Russian planes dropped leaflets Monday warning residents of Grozny and rebels to flee by Saturday or risk a a massive attack by federal forces to smash the capital into submission.
``Russia has set a deadline for all inhabitants now to leave Grozny or face the consequences,'' Clinton said. ``That means that there is a threat to lives of the old, the infirm, the injured people and other innocent civilians who simply cannot leave or are too scared to leave their homes.
``Russia will pay a heavy price for those actions, with each passing day, sinking more deeply into a morass that will intensify extremism and diminish its own standing in the world,'' he said.
(Reuters, December 7, 1999)
HONG KONG, Dec 7 (Reuters) - China has expelled three Australian members of the outlawed Falun Gong after they protested against Beijing's crackdown on the movement, a Hong Kong-based human rights group said on Tuesday.
Police rounded up the three ethnic Chinese Australians -- Dai Meiling, Yi Qin and Zeng Jianling -- soon after they displayed banners on December 4 on Beijing's Tiananmen Square denouncing the crackdown, said the Information Centre of Human Rights & Democratic Movement in China.
The banners read: ``Stop persecution of Falun Gong followers,'' ``Solve the problem through peaceful dialogue'' and ``Remove arrest orders for teacher Li Hongzhi.''
New York-based Li, founder of the movement, is China's most wanted man.
The three Australians were flown from Beijing the following day and are now in Hong Kong, the centre said.
Falun Gong mixes Buddhist and Taoist beliefs with meditation and breathing exercises. China banned the movement in July and has vowed to wipe out what it sees as a threat to communist rule.
The group stunned the central government in April when more than 10,000 Falun Gong members staged a surprise, silent protest outside Beijing's Zhongnanhai leadership compound.
by Tan Ee Lyn (Reuters, December 7, 1999)
HONG KONG, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Some 1,000 followers of the China's banned Falun Gong spiritual movement will converge in Hong Kong this weekend in a test of Beijing's tolerance and the limits of the territory's autonomy.
Falun Gong followers are expected from the United States, Canada, Japan, Taiwan, France, Singapore, Australia and Britain, a spokeswoman for the group said on Tuesday.
China banned the popular movement in July after its members demanded official recognition of their faith in a series of bold protests, including one which saw 10,000 of them surrounding the central leadership compound in Beijing in April.
But Hong Kong, which retains a high decree of autonomy since Britain returned the former colony to China in 1997, has permitted the practice of Falun Gong to continue in the territory.
"We've wanted to have this meeting for a long time and it is basically to exchange our experiences, to share," spokeswoman Cheung Yee-han told Reuters. "There will be 800 to 1,000 people."
Beijing, which calls the group an "evil cult" and views it as a serious threat to communist rule, has targetted New York-based founder Li Hongzhi as its most wanted man.
China has sought Li's extradition but Washington has refused.
CHINA CRACKS DOWN
Since July, Beijing has arrested at least 150 of its leaders and jailed some of them for up to 12 years. It has also sent an unknown number to labour camps without trial and expelled several foreign members of the group.
Cheung said the group will call on Beijing to start a dialogue, but that will not be the focus of the gathering.
"We don't want to talk specifically about the suppression, but with what's happened recently, we will express our hope to engage in peaceful dialogue with Beijing," Cheung said.
The group -- which describes its faith as a mix of Buddhism, Taoism, meditation and breathing exercises designed to harness inner energy and heal -- did not face any problems getting the standard police permit for its gathering.
Its members would practice their exercises in public parks on Saturday and hold seminars at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on Sunday.
Falun Gong also preaches salvation from an immoral world on the brink of destruction, opposes homosexuality, rock and roll and drugs, and blames science for evil in the world.
The group, originating in China, claims a global membership of over 100 million, although Beijing estimates it has only about two million members in China.
by John Leicester (Associated Press, December 7, 1999)
BEIJING (AP) - China today accused the U.S. government of ignoring abuses by the Falun Gong spiritual movement, which communist Chinese leaders have banned as a menacing cult.
On Monday, in his first comments about China's crackdown on the sect, President Clinton criticized the imprisonment and detention of Falun Gong members as a ``troubling example'' of the government acting against those ``who test the limits of freedom.''
Without mentioning Clinton by name, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said today that the U.S. government was ignoring the dangers posed by the multimillion-member spiritual movement.
``The U.S. government has adopted a double standard on the cult, and also turned a deaf ear to the adverse effect and the damage of Falun Gong to the Chinese people and society, and even tried to beautify this cult and interfere in China's internal affairs,'' she said when asked about Clinton's remarks during a briefing for reporters .
Expressing China's ``strong dissatisfaction,'' Zhang urged Washington to ``stop erecting new hurdles to China-U.S. relations.''
Zhang also expressed ``strong indignation'' over a recent U.S. government decision to extend a ban on exports of crime control and detection equipment to China for another two years because of continuing religious repression.
The decision followed a U.S. State Department report in September that criticized Chinese mistreatment of Tibetan monks, underground Christians and Muslim Uighurs from western China.
Following the report, the U.S. government in October added China to a list of countries considered of ``particular concern'' because of religious repression, and it extended the sanctions on crime control equipment that have been in place since China's army crushed pro-democracy demonstrators on Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Zhang demanded that the sanctions be repealed, saying they were imposed despite ``solemn representations and strong opposition from the Chinese side.''
``This is a serious violation of the basic norms governing international relations and gross interference in China's internal affairs,'' she said. ``The Chinese government and people would like to express their strong indignation.''
The State Department report covered a period of 18 months until the middle of this year, just before China banned Falun Gong in July as a menace to society and a threat to Communist Party rule.
Falun Gong blends slow-motion meditation exercises and ideas from Taoism, Buddhism and Falun Gong's U.S.-based founder, ex-government clerk Li Hongzhi. Practitioners say Falun Gong promotes health and good citizenship.
While officials say most members have renounced the group, thousands of others converged on Beijing in recent months to protest the ban, only to be rounded up by police. Hundreds if not thousands of others are in labor camps or in jail, either serving sentences or awaiting trial.
Today, a rights group said three Australians who on Saturday held up signs in Tiananmen Square appealing for an end to the crackdown on Falun Gong were detained for a day and deported.
Dai Meiling, Yi Qin and Zeng Jianling were put on a plane to Hong Kong, the Hong Kong-based Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China said.
The trio's signs asked the government to withdraw its arrest order for Falun Gong founder Li Hongzhi, who lives in New York, to stop ``persecuting the Falun Gong masses;'' and to hold peaceful talks to resolve problems with the group, the Information Center said.
Falun Gong members from the United States, Canada, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia, England, France and other countries plan to meet this weekend in Hong Kong, it said. Hong Kong's autonomous status has allowed Falun Gong members to continue to practice openly there.
(Kyodo News Service, December 7, 1999)
BEIJING, Dec. 7 (Kyodo) - China denounced Tuesday U.S. President Bill Clinton's questioning of its suppression of the Falun Gong spiritual group, stating its crackdown is designed to protect human rights.
''The Chinese government has banned the Falun Gong group in accordance with the law. In fact, it is protecting the fundamental human rights and freedom of the Chinese people,'' Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue told a regular news conference.
Clinton has described China's crackdown on the group as a troubling example of government action against those testing the limits of freedom, news reports said.
Thousands of adherents, who insist they are interested in traditional Chinese breathing exercises and a shared belief in a mix of Buddhist and Taoist philosophy, not politics, have been detained since Falun Gong was banned in July.
Without referring directly to Clinton's comments, Zhang said China is ''strongly dissatisfied'' with U.S. interference in China's internal affairs.
The U.S. government has adopted double standards towards Falun Gong, turning a deaf ear to its damaging effect on Chinese society and even trying to put the ''cult'' in a good light, she said.
Proponents' belief in Falun Gong has led to at least 1,400 deaths, numerous mental disorders, lost wealth and broken families, she said.
Meanwhile, three Australian practitioners were deported after unfurling banners in Beijing's Tiananmen Square calling for an end to the crackdown, a Hong Kong-based human rights group reported Tuesday.
The three, Dai Meiling, Yi Qin and Zeng Jianling, are now in Hong Kong after being forced to leave China following their Saturday protest, the Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China said in a statement.
They were detained for one day after displaying banners calling on authorities to rescind the arrest warrant for Li Hongzhi, Falun Gong's founder who lives in the U.S., to stop persecuting practitioners and to hold peaceful dialogue with members, the center said.
Falun Gong members from 20 counties, including the United States, Canada, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia, England and France, plan to meet this weekend in Hong Kong, the center said.
The autonomous region's government has not followed the Beijing example of banning Falun Gong meetings and joint exercises.
(Kyodo News Service, December 7, 1999)
HONG KONG, Dec. 7 (Kyodo) - Hong Kong followers of a sect banned by China said it will hold an international meeting in the territory at the weekend for local and overseas members to exchange their practice experiences, a spokesman of the group said Tuesday.
About 800 to 1,000 members of the Falun Gong from Hong Kong and other places, including Taiwan, Australia, Japan, South Korea, the United States, Canada, the Britain and France, are expected to take part in the two-day event.
This is the first international gathering of the group in Hong Kong since China outlawed the Falun Gong in July and labeled it an ''evil cult'' in October.
Hong Kong is the only territory in China where Falun Gong members can still practice their meditation and exercise openly.
''It is a bit sensitive to organize the meeting now,'' said Tony Chan, a spokesman of the group in Hong Kong. ''But that is the psychological barrier we have to overcome in order to further improve ourselves in the training.''
He said a similar meeting will be organized every year for members to exchange what they have learnt from Falun Gong.
They are now planning to hold an outdoor practice outside the Xinhua News Agency, the de facto Chinese Communist Party committee in Hong Kong, upon the arrival of overseas members Saturday, Chan said.
They still await the approval by Hong Kong police for the gathering, but Chan said no protest will be organized.
On Sunday, the followers will have an indoor meeting and the public is welcome to sit in the conference, he added.
China banned the Falun Gong and cracked down on its members following their protest outside the compound of the Chinese leaders in Beijing in April.
Many of the sect leaders in China were arrested and sent to jail.
What Is Falun Gong? See "Falun Gong 101", by Massimo Introvigne
FALUN GONG UPDATES
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