"China Vows Fight Against Cults"

("Associated Press", December 23, 1999)

BEIJING (AP) - To maintain China's stability, law enforcement officials must redouble efforts to fight ``evil cults,'' corruption and economic crimes, the nation's top prosecutor was quoted as saying Thursday.
The attitude ``stability prevails over all'' and a deeper sense of responsibility by public officials were essential to protect social order, Han Zhubin, procurator-general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate, said Wednesday, the state-run Legal Daily reported.
Han claimed ``a certain degree of victory'' in the fight against ``evil cults'' such as the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement.
The report did not elaborate.
Since the government banned the group in July as a threat to communist rule and public well-being, thousands of Falun Gong followers have been forced to recant their beliefs. Human rights groups estimate that 3,000 have been sent to labor camps. The government says it has formally charged 150 movement members.
Threats to social stability in China have grown in recent years as workers have taken to the streets to protest massive layoffs and the withholding of wages and pensions by decrepit state factories. Public anger over endemic corruption has aggravated the problem and tarnished the image of the ruling Communist Party.
Massive corruption remains rampant, despite years of anti-graft campaigns that have seen thousands of officials jailed and some executed.

"Group Claims Falun Gong Member Held"

("Associated Press", December 21, 1999)

BEIJING (AP) - A member of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement who entered China to meet other members has been held by police for nearly six weeks without being charged, a human rights group reported Tuesday.
Zhang Yuhui's family has received no word on his whereabouts nor formal notice that he has been arrested, the Hong Kong-based Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China said. Under Chinese law, police are supposed to hold suspects for no more than 30 days without formally arresting them, although loopholes make longer detentions possible.
A fervent follower of Falun Gong, Zhang left Macau for neighboring Guangdong province and was picked up by police while meeting other sect members on Nov. 11, the information center said.
China's government banned Falun Gong in July as a menace to public order and a threat to Communist Party rule. Since then, thousands have been forced to recant their beliefs. Human rights groups estimate that thousands of others have been sent to labor camps. The government says it has formally charged 150 movement members.
At the time of Zhang's detention Macau was still a Portuguese colony, but it reverted to Chinese control on Monday. Macau authorities denied entry to some Falun Gong members and deported 30 others for defying police orders by staging a demonstration on Sunday, hours before the handover ceremonies.
Macau's postcolonial government has not made clear how it will handle Falun Gong.
Like Hong Kong, Macau is a special administrative region of China with a promised high degree of autonomy. Hong Kong has been the only place in China where Falun Gong continues to operate legally.


Who's Afraid Of Falun Gong?

by Jacques deLisle ("China Daily", December 21, 1999)

Why have China's rulers launched a crackdown on Falun Gong? Why did party chiefs declare the group a serious threat to the Communist Party and the most grave danger to the regime since the Tiananmen movement of 1989? Why has the leadership ordered a massive effort to denounce the group, destroy millions of its publications, detain thousands of its members, and seek the arrest and extradition of its leader from the United States? What was so troubling about a movement whose millions of devotees practice traditional qigong exercises at home and in public parks, whose leader preaches an eclectic blend of Buddhist-inspired and Taoist- influenced quasi-religious beliefs mixed with folk millenarianism, and whose proclaimed goal is improving followers' physical and moral health by channeling cosmic energy and leading ethical lives? Although hardly presenting an immediate or substantial challenge to the regime's ability to rule, Falun Gong conjures nearly all of the demons that haunt the PRC's leaders. The dangers that the group evokes strike at each major aspect of the contemporary Chinese Communist Party's identity and the bases for its authority. Indeed, a review of possible reasons for the current campaign provides an archaeological tour of the several-layered character of the reform-era party-state and the vulnerabilities its leaders perceive.
First, the PRC's rulers have enough of a sense of history to recognize that they are -- or at least that many of their people see them as -- the latest in a succession of dynasties to rule China. From that perspective, Falun Gong has looked uncomfortably like the sects that were significant elements in past rebellions that shook the empire or ended imperial lines. For the keepers of the House of Mao, Falun Gong's qigong routines surely called up images of the turn-of-the-century Fists of Righteousness and Harmony, whose members believed that their pugilist-like calisthenics made them immune to bullets and whose failed Boxer Uprising marked the death throes of the Qing dynasty. Falun Gong leader Li Hongzhi's reported claims to share a birthday with the Buddha Sakyamuni and to possess supernatural powers suggested parallels to the mid-nineteenth century Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, whose adherents followed the self- proclaimed younger brother of Jesus Christ in a vast revolt that severely damaged China's last imperial dynasty. Its blend of popular Chinese religious doctrines and declinist rhetoric likely seemed all too reminiscent of the Yellow Turbans, White Lotus and other colorfully named sects that had rallied awesome forces of initially secular discontent around religious beliefs during earlier dynasties. When Falun Gong's adherents massed outside the senior Chinese leaders' compound in April in silent protest over their treatment by a regime that denied them the protection and status generally accorded to law-abiding organizations, the denizens of Zhongnanhai doubtless heard echoes of the popular movements that challenged the emperors who once lived in the Imperial Palace next door (as well as the reverberations of the Tiananmen demonstrations of 1989).
For party leaders with an especially strong penchant for history and hyperbole, the repeated Falun Gong demonstrations in Beijing and many other cities this spring and summer, along with other signs of the group's
widespread following, could set tongues wagging about signs of the loss of the Mandate of Heaven -- the traditional Chinese moral right to rule, the forfeiture of which often presaged an imperial line-ending popular rebellion.
Such fears would seem especially vivid for those in the elite who see their Communist "dynasty" plagued by corruption at lower levels and headed by a fourth emperor who appears not to be the equal of his predecessor or of the founding emperor.
Second, China's leaders also realize that they are, and that they need to remain, the heirs to the party of Yan'an and Civil War days -- the populist and popular organization that rode to power on a wave of support from the
masses, especially the peasantry. In this respect, Falun Gong and groups like it may be more disconcerting than pro-democracy dissidents and overtly political movements. The democracy and human rights activists of the late 1970s and 1980s and the student-led demonstrations of the late 1980s may have been dangerous signals of discontent among China's rising generation of educated elites. But such movements appear to become most worrisome to party and government leaders when they link up with ordinary city-dwellers and unauthorized workers' organizations, as they did during the Tiananmen demonstrations and related pro-democracy drives in 1989. Falun Gong has shown that it holds considerable appeal for an urban mass base, with even official PRC sources' low-end estimates reporting millions of followers. While many of its adherents are relatively privileged white-collar and educated types, Falun Gong seems to be most attractive to those who have not fared especially well during the reform era, including the elderly, the unemployed and many people socialized under high socialism who have not managed a comfortable transition to a market-based order.
Although the evidence is far more sketchy, Falun Gong does have many adherents in China's villages as well. The kinds of ideas and practices associated with the group could be expected to resonate with the inhabitants of the vast countryside no less than with the urbanites who have been Falun Gong's core constituency. If they do catch on more widely, such teachings and activities could become ideological and organizational focal points for the widespread but still-diffuse resentment that rural residents feel about corruption, favoritism, taxes, fees, and a host of other issues of economics and fairness. Party leaders appear to have taken Falun Gong's demonstrated and prospective mass appeal seriously, and have sought to undermine it. In reports that often quote ordinary people who have renounced the group or claim to have been harmed by it, the official media have repeatedly attacked
Li Hongzhi and Falun Gong's agents as liars and frauds who have duped common folk and ruined their health or even cost them their lives.
Third, the Chinese Communist Party remains a self-consciously Leninist institution. On this score, Falun Gong touched a pair of sensitive nerves.
Its ability to enlist a significant number of party members indicated weaknesses in the party's internal discipline, which could put at risk the party-state's capacity to govern. One striking event early in the drive against Falun Gong was the publication of an almost Cultural Revolution-style confession by prominent Beijing adherent Li Qihua, a retired People's Liberation Army lieutenant general who had impeccable revolutionary credentials (having participated in the Long March of the 1930s, the epic journey that the CCP regards as its defining moment) and who had held extremely sensitive posts (including director of the medical center that treats China's top leaders). And there have been other revelations of senior cadres' and ordinary party members' and government officials' involvement in Falun Gong's activities, including the April demonstration outside Zhongnanhai. To deal with such problems, the party's central leadership issued the most heavily emphasized measure of the current campaign. It directed Communist Party members who had joined the "cult" to sever their ties and required participation in re-education sessions -- exercises reminiscent of the pre-reform era that included criticism sessions and study of approved documents to re-instill the ideological rectitude expected of those who staff the party, state and army apparatuses.
Falun Gong represents a challenge to the party-state's Leninist monopoly of organization, especially political organization. The group's internal workings remain shadowy, perhaps even to those trying to crush it. Although official PRC sources have asserted that it is highly organized, most accounts indicate that Falun Gong does not have an elaborate command structure. But that fact, if true, may give little comfort to party officials who are worried about the political impact of Falun Gong and similar groups. The CCP itself, after all, spent many of its early years in scattered cells and fragmented revolutionary base areas, held together largely by a common set of values and goals and (at times) an acknowledged set of leaders. And the CCP did it without modern technology, such as the internet and cell phones, which Falun Gong and contemporary political dissidents have employed, or even faxes, which the pro-democracy activists of 1989 used effectively. The eerily spontaneous-seeming appearance of thousands of Falun Gong followers in central Beijing in April and in several cities on more recent occasions show, at the very least, an effective substitute for a strong, conventional organizational apparatus.
Whatever Falun Gong's institutional characteristics, party leaders have been determined to dismantle the organization, resorting to techniques reminiscent of the Mao era as well as the post-Tiananmen period. In addition to the traditional vehicle of a party-led, propaganda-laden campaign targeting the masses and study sessions for errant cadres, the regime has deployed the relatively new legal tools that are a much-touted hallmark of the reform era.
Like many political dissident groups in recent years, Falun Gong and its umbrella entity, the Falun Dafa Research Institute, have been branded "illegal organizations." The authorities have condemned them for conducting public activities without having the proper permits and registration -- approvals that were, at best, unlikely to have been granted once Falun Gong had begun to be identified as an unsavory association a few years ago. As has happened to participants in other unauthorized and semi-organized mass movements, many of the group's members have been arrested -- or, more commonly, detained without arrest -- and Li Hongzhi has been cited for offenses relating to the establishment and operation of an illegal organization. Chief among these is the innocuous-sounding but legally and politically significant crime of disturbing the public order. Claims in the press that Falun Gong's plans included challenging the party and government, and that participation in the sect had driven some members to murder or suicide, suggested that more serious criminal charges could follow.
Fourth, the reform-era Chinese leadership has defined itself largely as directing a developmental state, thereby claiming legitimacy on the basis of the rising levels of material prosperity that have been the defining achievement of the Deng and post-Deng era. Groups like Falun Gong point unnervingly to two possible weaknesses in this strategy. Most simply, the group's popularity among those who have not done particularly well under the reforms underscores the perils of betting too heavily on economic growth.
Falun Gong's rapid ascension suggests that mechanisms could emerge quickly to channel and amplify discontent arising from general or sectoral economic pain -- hardly an idle worry for generally pro-reform leaders facing problems that include the unresolved plight of the losers in previous rounds of reform, the current leveling off of growth rates in even the booming coastal cities, and the soon-unavoidable costs of restructuring state-owned industries and banks.
Falun Gong's appeal also suggests that, while "to get rich is glorious," it may not be enough for everyone. The rise of such a group (like the revival of more conventional religions) is a reminder of moral or spiritual needs, ones that the CCP's widely disdained Marxism-Leninism/Mao Zedong Thought/Deng Xiaoping Theory or its watered-down campaigns for "socialist spiritual civilization" have not been able to fill. Some proponents of the crackdown on Falun Gong may even have seen the movement's popularity as a sign that some of the theories of Western social science could be right -- that the turn to markets in the economic realm leads to the emergence of a marketplace of ideas and pressures for democracy. If so, and despite the group's lack of affinity for contemporary Western-style political norms, the apparent popular demand for Falun Gong could indicate dangerous stresses in the structure of "market-Leninism." Whatever their particular analyses of the situation, conservative elements in the leadership appear to have seen in the Falun Gong controversy an opportunity to reinvigorate the party's ideological work through a mass campaign and intra-party rectification -- pursuits that have strikingly, and almost surely by design, slighted the reform era's dominant rhetoric of market-oriented growth.
Fifth, and partly reflecting a sense of the risks of relying on economic performance as the basis for the party's claim of a right to rule, China's post-Mao administration has recast itself as a nationalist regime. In doing so, the party has partly returned to its roots, evoking its role as the principal force fighting against the Japanese and for national unity in the 1930s and 1940s. The strategy also has stressed more recent goals and accomplishments, including the PRC's acknowledged rise as a world power and its related march toward redemption of the remaining humiliations of nineteenth-century colonialism by means of the reintegration of Hong Kong, Macau and, it hopes, Taiwan. In recent years, the regime has played the nationalism card as its ideological trump in attempting to undercut support for dissent. Time and again, from the Democracy Wall in 1979 through the democracy movement in 1989 to the China Democracy Party in 1998-99, official sources have vigorously denounced the regime's adversaries as the tools of foreign interests and, at least implicitly, as traitors to China. Both drawing upon and stirring up popular nativist sentiments, this approach seems to have had some success against those pro-democracy dissidents who have drawn inspiration from Western thinkers and developed contacts with like-minded foreigners and exiled dissidents.
This tactic has been largely unavailable, however, against so clearly home-grown a group as Falun Gong. Despite party spokesmen's best efforts, it appears that they cannot make much out of the fact that Falun Gong's leader now lives in New York or that some of its internet communications originate abroad. The official press has called the group a tool of behind-the-scenes foreign forces and a product of alien cultural infiltration. But those accusations seem to ring hollow when directed against a strikingly indigenous enterprise espousing heavily non-Western doctrines. Some of the claims are tortured indeed, blaming a hostile Western-dominated international environment for the party's vulnerability to the kinds of eruptions of feudal superstition manifested in Falun Gong.
Groups like Falun Gong put the party's nationalist recipe under considerable strain in a more general way as well. While the CCP's recent ideology has touted many aspects of Chinese values and has embraced wholeheartedly the goal of a rich and powerful China, it has been, at best, abidingly queasy about many elements of traditional Chinese culture, especially the more anarchistic and supernaturalist strains. Campaigns against Falun Gong or similar groups risk exposing a gap between such elite agendas and authentically Chinese popular proclivities. The official press's odd trotting out of eminent scientists to expose Li Hongzhi's superstitious nonsense and pseudo-science strikes a tinny note, more in tune with a stale Marxist or post-Mao technocratic faith in a simplistic form of scientific rationalism than with the kinds of sentiments at the grassroots that have provided fertile soil for Falun Gong. The shrill tone and scattershot approach of the broader campaign against the "cult" bespeak a high level of elite agitation or an attempt to convey the intensity of the authorities' opposition more than they suggest confidence that the denunciations will resonate with, or persuade, a Chinese mass audience.
Finally, China's leaders during the last two decades have abandoned pretensions to totalitarianism in favor of a more accommodating form of undemocratic rule. They have bound their party to an implicit social contract with their citizenry: Ordinary Chinese can enjoy spheres of autonomy and room for private pursuits, free from political scrutiny and ideological demands, so long as they do not use that "space" to engage in political activities that might challenge the regime. The PRC's rulers thus have permitted and, in return, demanded a "depoliticization" or "civilianization" of a wide range of social and economic activity.
The flap over Falun Gong has exposed some ambiguities in this contract's terms, and revealed a possible penchant among the leadership for narrowing, illiberal constructions. The issue has been how "political" an enterprise Falun Gong is or could become. The group's principal visible activities and its avowed aims are apolitical enough. The official account, of course, has painted a radically different picture of a megalomaniac and his followers plotting to overthrow the party and the law, and to take the place of the government.
There is a more subtle question here as well. At some point in the emergence of a civil society, initially non-political organizations typically begin to seek a voice in how they are governed, especially with respect to policies that directly affect the group and the issues it sees as important. Some of Falun Gong's activities might be perceived as scattered signs of that sort of development in Chinese society. This is particularly true of the mass gatherings at public buildings by members seeking official recognition for the group and protesting the escalating government-imposed restrictions on their activities. Although some of those acts were precipitated by the regime's own moves against Falun Gong, such modest signs of potential pressure from below for structural political change may be enough, in the eyes of some of China's top leaders, to have warranted a sharpening of the post-Mao era's blunted authoritarian edge. An apparent dip in the political fortunes of Premier Zhu Rongji and the agenda of bold reform presumably has meant stronger support for a hard line against Falun Gong. At the same time, the care taken to assuage the worries of practitioners of approved religions and ordinary qigong suggests that much of the leadership was ambivalent about, or at least aware of the delicacy of, undertakings that could appear to compromise some of the reform era's defining promises.
As has occurred regularly in the PRC's suppression of political dissent movements, the fear of chaos, luan, has been the subtext (and sometimes thetext) of the call for repressive measures against Falun Gong. Ironically, such apprehension about the changes spawned by liberalization has sounded relatively plausible precisely because political reform in China has been so limited. What otherwise might be unremarkable features in the emergence of a robust civil society can seem to portend disarray where there are not adequate public institutions to channel and incorporate such demands and participation from below.
None of this, of course, means that Falun Gong really has imperiled Communist Party rule or that party leaders think it has -- unless Jiang Zemin and his subordinates have information about the power of the group, or the weakness of the party, that differs wildly from what outside observers have seen or believed to be possible. While it is not inconceivable that Falun Gong will survive and will someday grow into a major danger in its own right, for now it has been more a Rorschach test for China's rulers. In Falun Gong, they can see traces of the traits that, if repeated on a much larger scale and sustained for a much longer period, could strike hard at the party's principal weak points and undermine each of the major pillars of its right and ability to rule. And the leadership in Beijing surely has recognized that there is little reason to believe that Falun Gong's particular organization and doctrines have had a unique and irreproducible appeal. To the extent that the drive against Falun Gong exceeds the usual harsh response meted out to groups posing similarly modest threats, the reason may well be that Chinese leaders have sensed that the group symbolizes or foreshadows more serious hazards.

**Jacques deLisle is Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and a Senior Fellow of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, where he is a member of its Study Group on U.S.-China Relations. This article was first distributed by the Foreign Policy Research Institute, which can be contacted at FPRI@aol.com.

"40 held after sect defies ban on rallies"

by Stella Lee and Chloe Lai ("South China Morning Post", December 20, 1999)

Police arrested nearly 40 Falun Gong followers as they staged a defiant public exercise session outside the Lisboa Hotel. In sometimes violent scenes, officers took away followers from Macau, Hong Kong, the United States, Australia, France and Japan.
Among those carried into police vans were six-year-old girl Joh Young-yi, from Korea, and nine-year-old boy Carey Han, from Hong Kong, who had gone with their mothers to Macau.
The followers were detained at police headquarters and asked to give personal details before being deported.
A democratic campaigner hit out at the action, saying it raised doubts about whether the principle of "one country, two systems" would be applied in Macau.
The followers started gathering at a small garden in front of the hotel just after 10am, despite the police warning that foreigners were not allowed to hold rallies.
As the number of followers of the spiritual movement, outlawed in China, grew, the police presence increased to about 30.
They brought along two police dogs and cordoned off the area.
Three Hong Kong people who tried to enter the garden were taken away by police, as were American-Chinese Sun Jie and Australian-Chinese Helen Tao Hua-lian, 45.
By about 11.30am, police started breaking up the rally and taking the followers' details.
Scuffles broke out as the police began to remove followers at noon.
Australian Zheng Jia-ling said: "We choose to gather to practise today as we know the Chinese leaders, officials and journalists from all over the world will be here.
"We want to tell the world that our group is not a heretical sect. We want to tell them that it teaches us to become a good person."
An executive committee member of the Union for Democracy Development in Macau, Au Kam-sang, said the police action was "abnormal and irrational".
"The Government has no legal ground to arrest the Falun practitioners," he said. "It doesn't ban the sect here, so practising Falun here shouldn't be treated as illegal."
Hong Kong's Falun Gong spokeswoman was twice expelled from Macau after being questioned by officials for an hour and having her bag searched.
Belinda Pang San-san was stopped and turned back after boarding the 7.30pm ferry on Saturday and again early yesterday.
Also refused entry were Hong Kong-based human rights activist Frank Lu Siqing and April 5th Action Group member Leung Kwok-hung.
At least 17 Chinese practitioners from Japan were stopped by Hong Kong immigration from going to the enclave.
A Hong Kong journalist arrested during the protest will appear in court this morning. Lo Ka-fai, from the Sun newspaper, is accused of disobeying police orders.


"Macau police seize 40 Falun Gong members"

by Stella Lee and Chloe Lai ("South China Morning Post", December 19, 1999)

Police arrested nearly 40 Falun Gong followers as they staged a defiant public exercise session outside the Lisboa Hotel on Sunday. In sometimes violent scenes, officers took away followers from Macau, Hong Kong, the US, Australia, France and Japan.
Among those carried into police vans were six-year-old girl Joh Young-yi from Korea and nine-year-old boy Carey Han from Hong Kong who had gone with their mothers to Macau.
The followers were detained in a room at police headquarters near the hotel and were asked to give personal details before being deported.
A democratic campaigner hit out at the action and said it raised doubts if the concept of "one country, two systems" would be applied in Macau.
The followers started gathering at a small garden in front of the hotel shortly after 10am, despite the police warning that foreigners were not allowed to hold rallies.
As the number of followers of the spiritual movement, outlawed in China, grew, police increased to around 30, brought along two police dogs and cordoned off the area.
Three Hong Kong people who tried enter the garden were taken away by the police. American-Chinese Sun Jie banner was arrested at around 10.55am after holding up a banner.
Australian-Chinese Helen Tao Hua-lian, 45, was taken away after she tried to retrieve the banner.
By around 11.30am, police started breaking up the rally and jotted down each of the followers' personal details.
Several officers encircled the followers who took off their shoes, sat on the ground and continued to exercise.
Scuffles broke out as the police began to remove followers at midday.
A commander from the Public Security Police at the scene declined to comment.
Australian Zheng Jia-ling said: "We choose to gather to practise today as we know the Chinese leaders, officials and journalists from all over the world will be here.
''We want to tell the world that our group is not a heretical sect. We want to them that it teaches us to become a good person.
''I regret the police undertook such move. Our followers could practice freely in Hong Kong which is ruled under the "one country, two systems system which will also be applied to Macau.
''I hope we can enjoy the same freedom in Macau after the handover," Ms Zheng said.
Au Kam-sang, executive committee member of the Union for Democracy Development in Macau, described the police action as ''an abnormal and irrational move''.
''The Government has no legal ground to arrest the Falun practitioners,''he said. ''It doesn't ban the sect here, so practising Falun here shouldn't be treated as illegal and got arrested.''
''It is nonsense if equal the practise to protest. A lot of people practise qi gong every day around Macau. Are they going to arrest all of them?'' Mr Au said. At least 17 Chinese practitioners from Japan were stopped by Hong Kong immigration from going to the enclave.

"Portugal bids Macau farewell, Falun detained"

by Stephen Weeks (Reuters, December 19, 1999)

MACAU, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Portugual bid little Macau farewell on Sunday in the final hours before returning the gambling haven to communist China after 442 years of rule in Europe's first and last colonial outpost in China.

The day of sombre goodbyes in the coastal colony was marred when police seized about 40 members of the spiritual Falun Gong group, outlawed in China but supposedly still legal in Macau.

Police hauled off the Falun Gong practicioners, mostly foreign passport holders and including one six-year-old girl, who were exercising outside Macau's biggest casino.

They gave no reason for swooping on the peaceful assembly but authorities appeared determined to prevent the Falun Gong members from disrupting the handover ceremonies.

Border police kept close watch to stop any Chinese dissidents from slipping in, and prominent Hong Kong human rights activist Frank Lu said he was forcibly turned back at the ferry terminal after making the one-hour trip to Macau.

Lu said he wanted to petition China's President Jiang Zemin, who had arrived earlier to participate in the midnight handover, to free what he said were 5,000-odd dissidents jailed in China.


Human rights groups decried the detentions and deportations over the past four days by Macau authorities, saying it boded ill for the future of freedoms in the territory after the handover.

``This sends a very bad signal about the freedom of expression and 'one country, two systems' in Macau,'' said Catherine Baber, a spokeswoman for Amnesty International.

``It is further evidence of gross over-reactions sullying what otherwise would be a grand day. What do Macau authorities have to fear from Falun Gong members doing exercises in Macau?''

Macau is being returned under a ``one country, two systems'' formula which grants it a large degree of autonomy for 50 years.

Under a similar formula in nearby Hong Kong, which was handed back to China by Britain in 1997, Falun Gong members are free to practise their mix of Buddhism, Taoism and physical exercise. Macau also says they are free to practise in the territory.

The police swoop on the Falun Gong members coincided with the arrival of Jiang, and his reception at the airport by Edmund Ho, Beijing's handpicked leader for Macau.


Jiang flew in from the neighbouring Chinese city of Zhuhai, where troops from the People's Liberation Army were preparing for their march into Macau at noon on Monday.

Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio and Jiang will oversee the midnight handover ceremony in a huge waterfront tent with some 2,500 guests looking on.

It is the second time in fewer than three years that Jiang has overseen the return of a European colonial outpost to China, leaving only the arch-rival island of Taiwan outside of Beijing's plans to reunite all Chinese territory.

Macau, with just 430,000 people, has seen few of the heated debates that marked Britain's July 1997 return of Hong Kong, with its powerful financial centre and 6.8 million people.

The Portuguese territory, which has usually cooperated with Beijing, was always different from nearby Hong Kong, which was seized from China at gunpoint in the mid-19th century.

Macau counts on its casinos for more than 50 percent of its government revenues, and lacks the powerful foreign business community, strong local middle class and vocal pro-democracy movements that thrive in Hong Kong.


Sampaio and last Portuguese Governor Vasco Rocha Vieira made the rounds of the city's array of colourful buildings and sights to bid farewell to the dwindling community of 11,000 Portuguese and Macanese, or Eurasians, who will remain behind.

``I have mixed feelings. The 500 years of history go by like a film that lasts just seconds,'' he said. ``But I feel proud of all those who have carried this through and what we are leaving behind.''


"Macau police seize Falun members on handover eve"

by Tan Ee Lyn (Reuters, December 19, 1999)

MACAU, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Macau police seized about 40 members of the Falun Gong movement, which is banned in China, as they performed exercises in central Macau on Sunday ahead of the Portuguese territory's handover to Beijing at midnight.

Police frog-marched or dragged them away one by one, including a six-year-old South Korean girl, as they sat cross-legged with their eyes closed during their meditative exercises in a park opposite the Lisboa Hotel, home of Macau's largest casino.

``I'm very happy this is being done. This will show the world how the police is treating very peaceful people,'' one follower muttered repeatedly as police led her away.

The members -- wearing yellow T-shirts with the words ``Falun Dafa,'' meaning ``Falun big principle'' -- were taken away to ``assist investigation,'' a plainclothes policeman said.

China has banned the spiritual movement, which combines traditional Buddhist and Taoist beliefs with meditative exercises, called it ``an evil cult'' and vowed to crush it.

Under Sino-Portuguese accords, Macau will have a high degree of autonomy within China for 50 years under a ``one country two systems'' formula and, so far, Falun Gong is legal in Macau.

Macau's government, trying to snuff out protests that might mar the handover ceremonies, has turned away about a dozen Falun Gong members trying to reach Macau to demonstrate and call on President Jiang Zemin to stop persecuting the group.


Officials on Sunday also refused entry to Hong Kong-based Chinese dissident Frank Lu -- who disseminates news on China's treatment of dissidents -- and put him on a return ferry.

Australian Helen Tao, who was dragged away as she held up a banner reading ``Falun big principle is the real law,'' said she was disappointed by the police action although it was expected.

``They are already doing what China wants them to do even before the handover. I'm not confident at all about 'one country, two systems','' Tao told Reuters by telephone.

Tao and the others -- from Macau, Hong Kong, China, South Korea, Britain, France, the United States, New Zealand, Australia and Japan -- were held in a downtown police station and after five hours had not been told what would happen to them.

But the incident will not stop Tao. ``If I come to Macau again, I will still do the same thing,'' she said.

China banned Falun Gong in July after members demanded recognition of their faith in a series of protests.

Sunday's incident sparked an outcry from pro-democracy groups.

``Portugal just wants to curry favour with China and it's exercising political censorship so as not to cause any embarrassment to Chinese leaders,'' Macau's leading pro-democracy legislator Antonio Ng said.

Ng feared it would set a bad precedent for the post-handover government under Beijing-picked leader Edmund Ho, which may have few qualms about doing the same.

Amnesty International Hong Kong spokeswoman Catherine Baber said: ``This sends a very bad signal about the freedom of expression and 'one country, two systems' in Macau.''


"Macao police remove 40 Falun Gong members"

(Kyodo News Service, December 19, 1999)

MACAO, Dec. 19 (Kyodo) - Macao police on Sunday dragged away about 40 members of the Falun Gong movement banned in China just hours before the Portuguese enclave is to be handed back to the mainland.

The members, from Macao, Japan, Australia and Hong Kong, were seized while practicing their meditation and breathing exercises in a public square in defiance of an earlier police warning against illegal rallies.

The police action occurred just about the time Chinese President Jiang Zemin, Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji and other Chinese delegation members arrived in Macao for the handover ceremony at Sunday midnight.

''You have no right to arrest us. I haven't committed any crime,'' cried Helen Tao, one of the first to be hauled away by police from the square, near where the Chinese leaders' motorcade is expected to pass by.

Surrounded by about 100 police officers, Tao and several other Falun Gong members raised three banners saying ''Falun Dafa is the true way'' in Chinese while the rest of the group practiced their exercises.

''We are here since we know the Chinese leaders from Beijing will come,'' a Chinese member from Japan, Xiao Hongying, told Kyodo News.

''We want to tell the Chinese leaders that Falun Gong is good so that they realize the actual situation,'' Xiao said. ''I'm not afraid of being detained because Falun Dafa is in my heart.''

The sect did not have police approval for their rally although they did apply for one, Tao said earlier.

Some of the overseas Falun Gong followers in Macao on Sunday also attended an international petition and conference organized in Hong Kong last week.


"Macau police drag off Falun Gong members"

(Reuters, December 19, 1999)

MACAU, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Macau police on Sunday seized about 40 members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, which is banned in China, as they performed exercises in central Macau ahead of the Portuguese territory's handover to China at midnight.

Police frog-marched or dragged away the members of the Falun Gong group, including a six-year-old girl exercising with the others outside the Lisboa Hotel, home of Macau's largest casino.

Mainland China this year banned the spiritual movement which combines traditional Buddhist and Taoist beliefs with meditative exercises, calling it ``an evil cult.''

Under Sino-Portuguese accords, Macau will have a high degree of autonomy within China for 50 years and, so far, Falun Gong is legal in the territory.

But officials, trying to stop protests from marring the handover ceremonies, have turned away about a dozen Falun Gong members trying to reach Macau in recent days to demonstrate and call on President Jiang Zemin to stop persecuting the group.


"Hong Kong blocks Macau-bound Falun Gong members"

(Reuters, December 18, 1999)

MACAU, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Hong Kong has stopped six followers of China's banned Falun Gong spiritual movement from travelling to nearby Macau, a day before the Portuguese enclave reverts to communist China, a group spokeswoman said on Saturday.

The six ethnic Chinese, all with mainland China passports, were stopped by immigration officers from boarding a ferry for the one-hour ride to Macau on Friday night, spokeswoman Belinda Pang said.

``They were stopped by officers at the ferry terminal from taking the ferry,'' Pang said from Hong Kong. Hong Kong officials were unavailable for an immediate comment.

This follows the expulsion of 10 other Falun Gong members from Macau over the last two days, with Macau determined not to let any disturbances or ``unwelcome visitors'' mar the handover ceremonies at midnight on December 19.

Falun Gong has requested a permit from Macau police to stage a demonstration against the jailing of its members in China and to perform their meditative exercises in public to coincide with Macau's handover.

Macau officials say they have received no request, meaning any Falun Gong demonstration would be illegal. The authorities have also noted it is against the law for foreigners to protest in Macau.

The Falun Gong practitioners want to urge Chinese President Jiang Zemin, who is to attend the ceremonies, to free jailed practitioners and stop suppressing the movement.

``In the last two days, we could leave Hong Kong but not enter Macau, but now we can't even leave Hong Kong,'' Pang said. ``Hong Kong immigration officers told the six that by stopping them from boarding, they were helping Macau which has said it won't accept people with mainland Chinese passports.''

But China's tightening noose around the movement, which appears to be gaining the cooperation of authorities in Hong Kong, has not dampened the plans of the Falun Gong members to protest and have their presence felt.

``We will still carry on with our plan, there are some of us already in Macau,'' Pang said. ``But whatever we do, it'll be according to the law. If it permits us to protest, we will. If not, we won't.''

Branded ``an evil cult'' by China, Falun Gong was banned in July after members demanded recognition of their faith in a series of protests, combines elements of Buddhism and Chinese mysticism with traditional meditation exercises known as qigong.

Hong Kong returned to China in July 1997 after more than 150 years of British colonial rule. Hong Kong has been given 50 years of semi-autonomy within China and has said that Falun Gong may be practiced in the territory despite Beijing's ban.

Macau is also to have 50 years of semi-autonomous rule under a ``one country, two systems'' formula. Beijing is responsible for defence and foreign affairs.


"Macau Expels 6 Falun Gong Members Ahead of Handover, SCMP Says"

(Bloomberg, December 17, 1999)

Macau police expelled six members of China's banned Falun Gong spiritual movement in a pre- dawn hotel raid ahead of tomorrow's ceremony marking the return of Macau to Chinese rule tomorrow, the South China Morning post reported. The six people, from Hong Kong, Australia, Malaysia and Japan, said they had been under surveillance since they had arrived on Wednesday to apply for a permit to protest in the city that remains under Portuguese administration until midnight on Sunday. A Macau Public Security spokesman said the six were suspected of trying to hold an illegal assembly.

Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio and Chinese President Jiang Zemin will conduct the handover ceremonies for the enclave near Hong Kong that has been controlled by Portugal for almost 450 years.


"U.S.-based dissident says ejected from Macau"

(Reuters, December 17, 1999)

HONG KONG, Dec 18 (Reuters) - A U.S.-based pro-democracy activist said on Saturday he had been ejected from Macau just days ahead of the Portuguese territory's handover to China.

Wang Min, director of the San Francisco magazine China Spring, said he was picked up outside his Macau hotel shortly after he passed through immigration on Friday.

``When the taxi stopped by the hotel, somebody opened the taxi door and said they were the police. They took me into an unmarked car, made a U-turn and brought me back to the entrance of immigration and customs, and they put me back on the boat and sent me back to Hong Kong,'' Wang said.

He said he would try to enter Macau again on Sunday.

Wang said when he arrived he had been delayed at Macau customs for around 20 minutes but officials then returned his passport and allowed him to enter the enclave.

Wang, a U.S. citizen, said he was heading to Macau to write articles for the magazine and was not planning any demonstrations. He said he did not have press accreditation from the Macau Handover Office.

Wang said he had visited Macau several times this year and was there last in October. He heads an overseas Chinese democratic group known as the Alliance for a Democratic China.

On Friday Macau tracked down and expelled six followers of China's banned Falun Gong movement before Sunday's ceremonies to hand the Portuguese-run gambling haven back to China.


"Macau Tosses Out Falun Gong Members"

by Dirk Beveridge (Associated Press, December 17, 1999)

MACAU (AP) - Six visiting members of Falun Gong, the meditation sect banned in China, were thrown out of Macau today as preparations kicked in for the Portuguese enclave to be returned to China this weekend.

Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio arrived in Macau today in a cold, driving rain and was greeted by a marching band playing Portugal's national anthem and a color guard of police carrying his nation's flag.

Sampaio shook hands with Governor Vasco Rocha Vieira and other officials, some of whom seemed overwhelmed with emotion and on the verge of tears.

He arrived with the first wave of people coming to watch as Asia's oldest colony is handed back to China Sunday night at midnight after 442 years of direct rule from Lisbon.

The six Falun Gong members told reporters in Hong Kong that they were expelled from Macau earlier today. The spiritual movement is banned in China, and members have said they planned protests while Chinese leaders attended handover ceremonies.

Police knocked on the six members' doors at the Hotel Grandeur at 3:30 a.m. and searched their rooms, claiming someone had complained that they were carrying something suspicious, said Chau Sing, one of the group.

The officers took the members to a police station before escorting them to a ferry and sending them back to Hong Kong, 40 miles east of Macau.

``They said we hadn't broken any laws. Then why should we have to leave?'' Australian Dai Meiling said.

Police were not immediately available for comment.

Security officials have repeatedly said they won't allow any protests by Falun Gong supporters. Earlier this week, officials blocked four other group members from arriving. Police have told reporters they have a list of Hong Kong-based Falun Gong leaders and that they would not be allowed into the enclave to protest.

But Belinda Pang, a Falun Gong spokeswoman in Hong Kong, said today that members plan to petition visiting Chinese leaders, including President Jiang Zemin, against China's ban.

Pang, who planned to travel to Macau on Saturday, said the group has applied for police permission to hold a sit-in demonstration outside the headquarters of Xinhua News Agency, which represents Beijing in Macau.

Chinese authorities banned Falun Gong as a threat to stability and government control, and police have rounded up an unknown number of its members. Hundreds have been sent to labor camps.


"Macao expels six overseas Falun Gong members"

(Kyodo News Service, December 17, 1999)

MACAO, Dec. 17 (Kyodo) - By: Agnes Cheung Six Falun Gong members, who planned to publicly practice their meditation and breathing exercises during Macao's handover to China on Sunday, said Friday they were expelled by the enclave's police.

The six, from Hong Kong, Australia, Japan and Malaysia, expelled by ferry to Hong Kong early Friday morning after being questioned by police for two hours.

They said Macao police did not say why the group was forced to leave the territory.

The expulsion came just a day after four other Falun Gong followers from Australia and Japan were barred from entering Macao, a Portuguese territory that will be handed back to China on Sunday. The sect is outlawed in China.

One member from Hong Kong, Chau Sing, told reporters her group arrived in Macao on Wednesday and was followed by the police.

''Early (Friday) morning, the police knocked on our hotel rooms, saying somebody reported on us and demanded a check,'' Chau said.

The six were later taken to a police intelligence unit for questioning, she said.

Chau said they had intended to publicly demonstrate Falun Gong on Saturday and Sunday with other Falun Gong members.

Earlier this week, a number of the sect followers expressed hope of petitioning Chinese leaders who will attend the handover ceremony at midnight Sunday, urging them to stop suppressing members of the sect that was labeled an ''evil cult'' by China in October.

Falun Gong practitioners insist the Buddhist-oriented theory and exercises developed by Li Hongzhi, who is wanted in China, is merely teaching people to become good.

Chau said members in Macao have applied for permission to hold rallies over the weekend, but the police have yet to grant approval.

On Wednesday, Macao police threatened to arrest and prosecute people who hold public rallies illegally, including open practice of the meditation exercises.


"Macau cracks down on Falun Gong pre-handover"

by Jonathan Sharp (Reuters, December 17, 1999)

MACAU, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Macau on Friday tracked down and expelled six followers of China's banned Falun Gong movement two days before ceremonies to hand the Portuguese-run gambling haven back to China, a group spokeswoman said.

The expulsion of the non-Macau residents brought to 10 the number of movement members turned away from Macau in 24 hours and underlined the territory's refusal to accept protests disturbing a smooth transition in Europe's first and last colony in China.

``Police tracked down the six of them and put them on the ferry to Hong Kong,'' spokeswoman Belinda Pang said from Hong Kong.

Three ethnic Chinese members with Australian passports and one from mainland China were turned back on Thursday when they arrived in Macau from Hong Kong.

A police spokesman said on Friday: ``If there are people planning unlawful activities, they will be treated as unwelcome visitors.''

The six expelled on Friday comprised two Australians, one Chinese, two Hong Kong residents and one Malaysian.

One of the six, Australian Dai Mei-ling, said three to four plainclothes police came into her hotel room at 3 a.m. and said they wanted to search the premises because she was a suspected drug trafficker.

``They said, 'You are a drug trafficker and we want to check.' They checked everything, including my luggage,'' she said.

Another of the six, Sze Ting-wan, said they arrived in Macau on December 15. ``I am sure we were under surveillance.''


She said the six were grilled separately and police told them they had not violated any rules. Then they were sent back to Hong Kong and given a letter saying they could never re-enter Macau.

``We want to go to Macau again,'' Sze said. ``We think the people and authorities and police in Macau don't understand Falun Gong. We want to introduce Falun Gong to them. Also, we want to participate in the handover ceremony.''

Members of the Falun Gong have applied to hold a protest coinciding with Macau's handover at midnight on Sunday.

They also plan to urge Chinese President Jiang Zemin, who is to attend the ceremonies, to free jailed practitioners on the Chinese mainland and stop suppressing the movement.

Falun Gong, banned by China in July after members demanded recognition of their faith in a series of protests, combines elements of Buddhism and Chinese mysticism with traditional meditation exercises known as qigong.

Criticising the police action, Macau's leading pro-democracy legislator, Antonio Ng, said on Friday on Friday it was clearly a political decision by Portugal and designed to prevent a protest to mar the handover ceremonies.

``I criticise this action, I question it. I do not know when it was that the Falun Gong was outlawed in Macau,'' he said. Macau has not outlawed the Falun Gong.

Apart from Falun Gong members, Hong Kong's Democratic Party, an outspoken critic of China, would not be welcomed at the handover ceremony, Hong Kong newspapers said on Friday.


Portugal's President Jorge Sampaio arrived on Friday in driving wind rain in Macau, where he will join President Jiang at the ceremonies.

Both Portugal and China have gone out of their way to stress the goodwill surrounding the process, unlike Britain's strained withdrawal two years ago from neighbouring Hong Kong.

For Portugal, one of Europe's first colonialists, the style of its departure from Macau marks a welcome contrast with the often unhappy exit from its other dependencies.

Under the deal worked out with China in 12 years of negotiations, Macau will be a semi-autonomous territory with its own government, laws and capitalist economic system.

Macau will be a further test of the ``one country, two systems'' formula under which Beijing pledges to allow both Hong Kong to keep their capitalist ways under the umbrella of communist China.


"Australian recovers after leaping from Chinese detention centre"

(Australian Broadcasting Corporation News, December 17, 1999)

An Australian citizen who belongs to a banned meditation sect is recovering with a broken leg after leaping from a detention centre window in Beijing.

The woman was with a group of Falun Gong members detained in Beijing earlier this week.

Melbourne woman Lucy Liu Yuling was one of nine members protesting in Beijing when they were detained by Chinese security officials.

The 50-year-old Mrs Liu broke her leg after jumping from the second floor of a detention centre.

She has since been deported to Hong Kong after refusing medical treatment.

The group has been increasing its activities in recent days ahead of this weekend's handover of Macau to the mainland.

Three ethnic Chinese Falun Gong members with Australian passports were denied entry to Macau yesterday, even though the movement is not banned there.

Macanese authorities have promised to stop any attempts to disrupt the handover ceremony.


"Injured cult follower vows Beijing return"

by Cheung Chi-Fai ("South China Morning Post", December 17, 1999)

A Falun Gong practitioner yesterday pledged to return to Beijing to campaign for the sect despite breaking her leg trying to escape from security officials on Wednesday. Australian Lucy Liu Yuling, 50, was put on a flight to Hong Kong after she tried to escape from arrest.

She jumped from a second-floor room of a Beijing hotel run by the public security bureau. Eight other Falun Gong practitioners from Australia were also in custody.

Six of her colleagues, held in adjacent rooms, escaped through windows.

But Ms Liu broke her leg as she fell and was discovered by police lying on the ground half an hour after her escape attempt.

She was taken to hospital for an X-ray but refused to take any medicine, saying Falun Gong was her best cure.

Ms Liu said she decided to escape after she was told by an officer she would be sent home the next day.

"It's difficult for us to get there and we want to visit the relevant department to tell them the truth about Falun Gong."

The nine Australian-Chinese, one man and eight women, travelled by train from Hong Kong on December 13.

They were detained by mainland officers when they arrived in Beijing the next day.

Ms Liu said she was worried about her colleagues because they escaped without their passports, which were being held by mainland officers.

She accused the Australian Embassy in Beijing of offering little help.

"An officer came and asked me if we were all right. But he did not say how they would help us."

Ms Liu, a former mainland university lecturer who now lives with her 18-year-old daughter in Melbourne, said she would not go to Macau during the handover but would return to Beijing.

"I will go back. I feel obliged to return the good brought to me by Falun Gong."

The fate of four American-Chinese Falun Gong followers remained unknown after they were released in Shenzhen yesterday with their travel documents still held by public security officers.

The four were taken from a hotel on Wednesday, along with two Hong Kong residents.

The Hong Kong residents, identified as Chan Chun-shue and Yam Yuk-fan, returned to Hong Kong on Wednesday night.


"Members of sect barred"

by Chloe Lai ("South China Morning Post", December 17, 1999)

Two Falun Gong practitioners were turned away from Macau after trying to enter the enclave from Hong Kong. The rejection came a day after Macau authorities said sect members may be banned from the enclave and would not be allowed to demonstrate during this weekend's handover ceremonies.

Australian-Chinese Gao Yuan and Yang Wen, a mainlander studying in Japan, tried to enter Macau to take part in the sect's handover protest.

"He was told he had been blacklisted," said Belinda Pang San-san, a spokesman for Falun Gong in Hong Kong, referring to Mr Gao. "They told him he should understand why he was blacklisted.

"None of them spoke when Gao asked whether it was because he was a Falun Gong practitioner."

Last month, Mr Gao was arrested with others in Guangzhou as they staged a hunger strike in a detention centre. He was deported to Lowu with another Australian-Chinese practitioner.

Mr Yang was the only mainlander to take part in last Saturday's Falun Gong protest in the SAR.

What Is Falun Gong? See "Falun Gong 101", by Massimo Introvigne


CESNUR reproduces or quotes documents from the media and different sources on a number of religious issues. Unless otherwise indicated, the opinions expressed are those of the document's author(s), not of CESNUR or its directors

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