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As soon as the crackdown started in July 1999, Falungong looked for support from foreign governments and multilateral organizations such as the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, and from Falungong practitioners outside China, estimated at thirty million by the organization's spokespersons. Falungong leaders sought leverage and legitimacy by urging governments in the West and throughout Asia to express outrage at China's human rights violations and to pressure the Chinese leadership to reverse its ban on Falungong. With the crackdown underway and the possibility that Falungong's visibility within China would wane, its leaders also promoted the growth of the movement in countries outside China to demonstrate Falungong's continued vitality and efficacy.

China responded to Western condemnation of the Falungong crackdown with accusations of interference, collusion, and ignorance of the danger Falungong presented to China and to individual practitioners. In Asian cities-Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Tokyo-where a vibrant Falungong presence might have helped sustain the movement, China went on the diplomatic offensive.

As a result, foreign governments generally have been unwilling to do much in the face of the crackdown beyond providing rhetorical defense for practitioners' basic rights. In many cases, foreign governments responded to Chinese pressure by turning their backs on reports of abuses or even denouncing Falungong. In isolated instances, some governments limited Falungong members' freedom of assembly and expression in their own countries.

Nowhere has more been at stake, pragmatically and symbolically, than in Hong Kong.

Falungong in Hong Kong

Practitioners in the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong (SAR), there since 1996, have supported the rights of those on the mainland from the time the crackdown began in July 1999.205 The Hong Kong government, on the other hand, has quietly chipped away at the rights of SAR practitioners. On paper, Hong Kong has held the line and Falungong remains legal there; SAR authorities have not passed an anti-cult law or anti-sedition legislation, as some had feared, which would have provided a legal basis for banning the group. Nor has the SAR government seriously restricted Falungong followers from practicing and making their views publicly known through marches, meetings, and demonstrations. Responding to pressure from Beijing, Hong Kong authorities have, however, limited Falungongpractitioners' use of public facilities and restricted access to followers based outside the SAR. Authorities have also put Falungong on notice by declaring that the group has all the markings of an "evil cult," that it is being carefully monitored, and that it could be shut down quickly should Hong Kong authorities deem such action necessary.

Early Falungong-Hong Kong interaction was routine. On July 22, 1999, the same day Falungong was banned on the mainland, the Hong Kong government assured the Hong Kong chapter, legally registered as a society, that "[Falungong's] operation can continue so long as it abides by the law."206 By the following day, Hong Kong practitioners openly staged the first of many protests, some with as many as 1,000 participants, denouncing actions taken by the Chinese government to destroy Falungong.207 In the following weeks and months, however, concerns about pressure from mainland authorities mounted when, for example, several Hong Kong bookstores refused to stock Falungong publications and when a large paging company failed to deliver Falungong-related messages.208 Some Hong Kong politicians objected to Falungong plans for a one-day international meeting in December 1999, and Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa warned the organizers against "doing anything which was not in the interests of China, Hong Kong, or the `one country, two systems'" policy.209 A month before the one-year anniversary of the ban, Hong Kong immigration authorities refused admission to several Falungong members from other countries.210

At the same time, some practitioners flaunted their presence. Sidewalk distribution of a twenty-six page color brochure detailing alleged Chinese government atrocities seemed calculated to antagonize Hong Kong's pro-Beijing faction. But it was Falungong's efforts to hold a high-profile meeting at Hong Kong's City Hall on January 14, 2001 that demonstrated more clearly than ever the group's carefully thought through strategy of what might be called "peacefulprovocation." It was clear that authorities in Beijing would be furious at such a move, in part because Falungong, at the point the meeting was being negotiated, had succeeded remarkably well in stalemating the government's effort to shut down the movement within China. It was clear that the international community, concerned about erosion of freedoms in Hong Kong, would be watching, and that the meeting would strain China-Hong Kong relations. It was also clear that Falungong was acting irreproachably, scrupulously following procedures for holding public meetings and acting entirely within the limits of the law.

On December 20, 2000, President Jiang Zemin visited Macao to help celebrate the first anniversary of the island's return to China after 450 years of Portuguese rule. His speech, indicating escalating impatience with all anti-mainland activities in Macao, gave Hong Kong's pro-Beijing media and business community the signal they needed.211 As soon as it became known that the SAR Legal and Cultural Services Department had "routinely" approved Falungong's January 14 meeting application, the pro-Beijing forces mounted a full-scale campaign to shut down the organization in Hong Kong once and for all.212 An unofficial understanding that at least during the meeting period Falungong would temper "provocative activities," such as putting up posters showing the bodies of those who allegedly died in custody in China, did nothing to assuage the China faction's animus.213 Even those not wholly in the government's camp suggested Falungong members temper their activities to avoid a showdown.214

On January 14, some 800 to 1,200 practitioners, including 700 from twenty-three other countries gathered in Hong Kong.215 In a march across town in funeral attire, practice in a public park, a silent vigil, and delivery of petitions to the Chinese Government Liaison Office, they drew attention to the Chinese government's crackdown.216 To ensure control, police split the marchers into twelve sections.217 Organizers said that in a compromise they had agreed not to carry any banners denigrating China's president, Jiang Zemin.218 In addition, officials of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department refused to permit a display of photos of alleged torture victims, because, they said, approval for the photos had not been obtained when Falungong rented the Hong Kong City Hall Auditorium, and because their display was irrelevant to the stated purpose of "experience sharing" by members.219 Falungong agreed to the restriction in order to preserve the event.

During the meeting, much of the "sharing" came from followers who had experienced mistreatment. Falungong charged that, using a Beijing-supplied black list, Hong Kong authorities had deliberately refused entry to those with the most compelling testimonies.220 Immigration authorities claimed the thirteen practitioners who had been barred from the territory had visa problems.221

The first salvo directly from China relating to the January 14 event came in a lengthy article carried by Xinhua that labeled a Hong Kong spokesman for the group "a core member of the evil cult" and expressed alarm over Falungong's expansion to other Asian cities. A second article, published after the event, raised concerns over Hong Kong's becoming a base for subversion and charged Falungong with being a "cheap tool" of the West in collusion with anti-China forces andseparatists in Tibet, Xinjiang, and Taiwan.222 Pro-Beijing Hong Kong newspapers denounced the group in front-page articles; and local lawmakers commented on the dangers Falungong was said to pose to social order in Hong Kong.223

In February 2001, a Hong Kong member of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress (NPC) accused the local Falungong group of increased "ferocity" in directly attacking the central government. He indicated he planned to raise the issue at the Standing Committee meeting, scheduled for February 26-28, and at the NPC meeting the following week.224

Hong Kong Secretary for Security Regina Ip added fuel to the fire with her February 1 objection to Falungong's higher profile and what she said was its targeting of the central government. At the same time as she acknowledged that members of the group had done nothing illegal, she insisted on the need to keep "watch on their activities."225 On March 1, Ms. Ip labeled Falungong "devious," characterized by heterodoxy, and not an "ordinary" organization, in part because it was so well organized and funded, two charges Hong Kong practitioners denied.226 In regard to complaints about Falungong's pamphleteering and use of e-mail, she again suggested it would not be "abnormal for the Government to closely monitor it." Although Falungong had not yet broken the law she suggested, it "might do that in the future."227

By March 2, a Falungong spokesman in Hong Kong complained of increasedpressure from the police including ID checks of practitioners distributing leaflets.228 And a spokeswoman for the Leisure and Cultural Services Department confirmed that some 1,000 park managers had been told to "pay attention" to exercising Falungong practitioners.229 There had been complaints, she said, about members causing disturbances while handing out leaflets.

Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa initially was circumspect in his public denunciation of Falungong, caught as he was between Beijing's "one country" emphasis and the imperative in Hong Kong of stressing that the "two systems" remain largely independent. However, he too signaled approval of Beijing's stance with a statement on February 8 that Falungong "more or less [bore] some characteristics of an `evil cult'" and that the group's activities in Hong Kong warranted monitoring.230

At the same time as Falungong's status in Hong Kong was under discussion, security arrangements for an international business meeting there, the Fortune Forum sponsored by AOL Time Warner, were in progress. President Jiang Zemin's scheduled appearance at the May event meant SAR officials were under pressure to curb protest activities, especially those promised by Falungong, to the satisfaction of all parties. By April 11, the news had leaked that no mainland tour groups could be present in Hong Kong or Macao during Jiang's visit.231 By the middle of the month, security personnel from the Central Bodyguards Bureau and the Ministry of Public Security had begun to arrive in Hong Kong to monitor Falungong.232 And at about the same time, Falungong practitioners in Hong Kong made public their intention to practice group exercises, distribute literature, and mount a photo exhibition during the forum.233

Their announcement prompted Tung Chee-hwa to stress that his government "will not allow them [Falungong] to abuse Hong Kong's freedoms and tolerance or to affect public peace and order," adding that the group's plans to protest were"unacceptable to the community."234 He characterized Falungong's motives as political rather than religious. Within days, Beijing signaled it agreed with Tung, as did Donald Tsang, Hong's Kong's new Chief Secretary for Administration.235 And just days before the visit, police readied a massive security force of some 3,000 officers, banned protests within 1,000 feet of the forum site, and limited Falungong demonstrators to twenty.236 By then, Jiang had cut his visit from three days to one.237

The Hong Kong government, at the same time it denied having a blacklist, took steps to block entry to the territory to practitioners from abroad, including followers from Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom (U.K.), and the U.S., some of whom complained of rough treatment from immigration officials.238 They, in turn, insisted the deportations had nothing to do with Falungong membership but refused to give any other reasons; the Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry insisted that exit and entrance procedures were legal; and Security Secretary Ip defended the expulsions.239 "No one," she said, "was barred because of their religious belief or affiliation with any group," but "as part of the overall security strategy."240 It should be noted that no government is under obligation to admit non-nationals to its territory. Under Article 154 of the Basic Law, Hong Kong has sole authority to apply immigration controls on entry, stay, and departure in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region by persons from foreign states and regions.

Under pressure from Hong Kong lawmakers, Ms. Ip finally admitted theexistence of a blacklist but refused to say whether Falungong members were on it.241 In an editorial, she also defended the security arrangements against charges that they deprived protestors of their rights to freedom of speech and assembly.242

Within days of the conclusion of the Fortune Forum, Falungong practitioners mounted another challenge to Hong Kong authorities with the announcement they would hold weekly "spiritual exercises" in a public park in Hong Kong's tourist district. Group leaders had done their homework. Since Falungong was not renting space, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department could not legally ban the meeting; and since less than fifty people were expected to attend, there was no need to notify the police seven days in advance as required by the Public Order Ordinance.243

By mid-May, the Hong Kong government's stance toward Falungong had begun to shift. Officials made clear that although they viewed Falungong with a great deal of suspicion and would continue monitoring it closely, there would be no attempt to shut it down. Some commentators speculated that the decision reflected Tung's desire to show, in advance of elections for chief executive in March 2002, that "one country, two systems" was intact. Chief Secretary Donald Tsang, for example, said Hong Kong had "to consider all options, legislation included, in dealing with cults." "We must make adequate preparations," he said, "so that we will not be at a loss when things happen."244 And he acknowledged that SAR officials and Falungong members were having "quiet chats."245 By mid-July, even Security Secretary Ip had backtracked, suggesting that since Falungong had not grown and that no law had been overtly breached, no new legislation or measures were needed "on the basis of the current situation."246 Their statements taken together suggest that Hong Kong is striking a middle ground between Beijing's demands and pressure from Hong Kong's Falungong practitioners-some 500 in all-who are committed to continuing their protests, deliberately seeking confrontation and staging events that raise the group's profile in the territory and beyond, but at the same time staying well within the law.

Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa's statement on the other hand, that "Falun Gong was without doubt an evil cult...and by no means apolitical," caused continuing apprehension that Hong Kong may behave differently should Beijing change its signal.247

Falungong Elsewhere in Asia

As the examples below show, in many Asian countries Falungong fared poorly at the hands of government officials. The desire of many of these countries' leaders to do nothing that would jeopardize relations with China meant their governments took steps to limit Falungong's growth. In some cases they restricted international meetings within their borders, imprisoned and expelled practitioners for what would normally be minor offenses, refused tax breaks, or counseled against planned appearances by Li Hongzhi, Falungong's leader. At the same time as governments were restricting Falungong's activities, they permitted the Chinese government to organize anti-Falungong rallies. The Chinese embassy in Singapore organized a "say no to the cult" seminar for Southeast Asia; a similar event was held in Bangkok.248 If Falungong's leadership had hoped to build a major constituency in an Asian country other than China, it had to be bitterly disappointed.


After Chinese officials became aware of plans for an international Falungong meeting in Bangkok in April 2001, they complained to the Thai embassy in Beijing, suggesting the event would disrupt China-Thai relations.249 Simultaneous with the arrival of a new Chinese ambassador in Bangkok, Chinese-language dailies there ran prominent advertisements faulting Falungong, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce spoke out against the proposed gathering, and President Jiang Zemin communicated his concern directly to the new Thailand ambassador to China.250 Although practitioners called the proposed event "non-political," a Thai official made clear that Thailand valued its relations with China, and would not allow anygroup to use Thai territory to disparage another country.251 Chinese authorities supplied Thai police with a list of blacklisted practitioners.252 The Thai business community weighed in, suggesting that if Falungong was accepted in Thailand, groups such as Japan's Aum Shinri Kyo would move in. The press accused Falungong of denigrating Buddhism; Thailand's new government announced that Li Hongzhi would no longer be welcome in Bangkok.253 On February 26, after a meeting with the Deputy Commissioner of Special Branch police, Falungong canceled the meeting.254

The issue of Falungong's activities in Thailand arose again in mid-May 2001. In anticipation of a protest during Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji's visit to Bangkok, the special branch police announced it would closely monitor Falungong members.255


Singaporean officials discouraged Falungong practice almost immediately following the Chinese ban. They suspended the group's classes in four government-run community centers; and, according to Falungong practitioners, the government-controlled press refused to sell them advertising space, ignored their press releases and letters to the editor, and published accounts maligning the group.0

On March 29, 2001, Singapore convicted and sentenced fifteen Falungong practitioners on charges of illegal assembly and obstructing the police. Thirteen were Chinese nationals, and two were Singaporean. The fifteen were part of a group of approximately one hundred who had attempted to hold a New Year's Eve memorial for Falungong members who had died in Chinese custody. Eight participants were each fined the approximate equivalent of U.S.$550; seven received four-week sentences. Of those, six were Chinese nationals, three withpermanent resident status in Singapore and three with student passes. Singapore Immigration and Registration revoked the permanent residency status of one participant and canceled the student passes, but was willing to allow them to depart for countries of their choice rather than be repatriated to China.1 One other non-Singaporean Falungong follower left after her employer canceled her work permit.2


Japan also apparently bowed to pressure. On March 8, 2000, the Tokyo metropolitan government refused non-profit status to the 400-member Japan Falun Dafa Society on the grounds that the application forms contained discrepancies. A Tokyo international affairs section chief acknowledged that a Chinese embassy official had called Falungong "a heresy" in urging the rejection, but insisted that the application was denied because Falungong did not meet applicable standards.3 Few such applications had been rejected after the law permitting prefectural governments to grant non-profit status went into effect in December 1998.4 On August 16, 2000, after the society turned to Japan's Economic Planning Agency for help, the Overseas Chinese Council in Tokyo submitted a petition urging rejection. The letter's wording repeated the usual official Chinese accusations: Falungong had a political agenda, caused disturbance of public order, had heretical ideas, poisoned people's minds, and destroyed their health.5 Finally, the petition warned against Japan becoming a "hotbed" for Falungong activities detrimental not only to Japan but to Chinese-Japanese relations. It is worth noting that news of the petition was publicized in an official Chinese source.

In July, the Japanese Consulate General stated that Japan's "Law to Control Organizations that have Committed Indiscriminate Mass Murders" did not apply to Falungong: "[G]roups that have not committed such activities in the past are beyond the scope of the law even if there is concern that they may commit such crimes inthe future." The legislation, he said, "is not technically an `anti-cult law.'"6

At this writing, Japan had yet to decide if it would be willing to grant asylum to six Chinese Falungong practitioners whose applications were received in April 2001.


Chinese officials were less successful in undermining Falungong in Australia despite the importance of Australia-China trade ties. In early 2001, the South Sydney mayor refused a request from the Chinese consulate in Sydney to prohibit a Falungong event.7 Some six months earlier, the Australian government had refused to intercede after the Chinese consul general in Sydney railed against Falungong's year-long sit-in in front of the consulate.8 Instead, the government responded by raising concerns about the embassy's surveillance and harassment of practitioners in Canberra.9


According to China, Taiwan is a renegade province conspiring with Falungong to "overturn Chinese political power" and Falungong's presence and growth there must be monitored and restricted.10 Taiwan, looking not to exacerbate cross-Straits strains, has been willing to compromise, allowing Falungong practitioners, numbering some 7,000, the freedom to practice without obvious restriction; at the same time, the government has steered clear of seeming to support the movement. Two planned visits by Li Hongzhi, one in July 1999 at the time China banned Falungong, and another in December 2000, were canceled.11 In each case, Falungong spokespersons said Li had changed his schedule, but both sides admitted that political factors played a role. Li's comment before the December trip that, "the timing for visiting Taiwan is not appropriate," most likely reflected a request he stayaway.12 Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council reportedly was against the trip, fearful it would exacerbate already tense mainland-Taiwan relations.13 The December visit was to have been part of a two-day Falungong summit, the Falun Dafa Asia-Pacific Region Cultivation Exchange. The event went ahead as planned, and Taiwan's vice-president did address assembled practitioners but only to read a one-sentence statement and promptly depart.14 Some Taiwan practitioners managed to reach Hong Kong to protest during Jiang's May 2001 visit; others were refused permission to enter.15

Falungong in the West

Although Western leaders from Europe, the U.S., and Canada spoke out for human rights principles in the face of Chinese insistence that the Falungong "problem" was an internal one brooking no outside interference, there were times they were less than forthcoming in their condemnation of abuses. As the cases below illustrate, Western leaders remained silent or even implied in their remarks that Chinese authorities knew much better than they the intransigence of the Falungong problem and how best to deal with it. At sensitive times, such as when a Chinese dignitary was visiting, some leaders effectively looked the other way when their own authorities compromised Falungong practitioners' rights. But no country has done anything to directly impede Falungong's growth. Only when their own citizens or permanent residents were clearly threatened, or when China's leaders tried to interfere with their right to meet with Falungong followers outside China, did Western governments become actively engaged.

China has strenuously objected to any and all Western support for the basic rights of Falungong practitioners, no matter how mild or pro forma, often accusing the country involved of collusion and threatening retaliation.16 Much of the ire has been directed against the U.S.


Li Hongzhi's plan to meet with Falungong practitioners in the U.K. on August 22, 1999, one month after the organization was banned in China, sparked a disagreement between the two countries, with Chinese authorities warning a visit would hurt the relationship.17 Claiming Li was a security threat, they urged the U.K. to deny him admittance and urged Interpol to detain him if he tried to cross into Britain. Both requests were refused.18 Li eventually canceled the trip, citing a busy schedule. However, two months later, when President Jiang Zemin visited the U.K. as part of a six-country tour, police refused to allow Falungong practitioners as well as other groups' members to demonstrate on the basis of a little used law banning demonstrations in royal parks.19 On the other hand, a small protest in front of the Chinese embassy in London on Chinese New Year 2001 took place without incident; and the Greater London Assembly refused to rescind its statement censuring China for its treatment of Falungong despite repeated Chinese pressure to do so.20

French officials banned a planned Falungong protest during President Jiang's October 1999 visit to Paris, charging such a demonstration posed a "risk of public order disturbances."21 Days later in Beijing, when German Chancellor Gethard Schroeder was asked to comment on the suppression of Falungong, he replied he was "not an authority on sects." Throughout his visit, police routinely rounded up protesting practitioners in Tiananmen Square without comment from the chancellor.22

The Netherlands faced problems in February 2001 after Chineserepresentatives in Hong Kong strenuously objected to the Dutch human rights ambassador's plan to include Falungong among the NGOs invited to meet with her in the territory.23 The meeting had been scheduled to take place during a stopover by a Dutch delegation, led by Foreign Minister Jozias van Aartsen, on its way home from Beijing. Instead of acquiescing to the mainland government's pressure to cancel the Hong Kong meeting, the Dutch postponed the entire trip, stating, "It cannot be the case that part of the program is changed under pressure from the Chinese government."24 Xinhua reported that the change in plans was due to time constraints.25

On a number of occasions, the European Parliament and the European Union (E.U.) reproached China for its human rights record, including its treatment of Falungong. Each time the Chinese leadership immediately warned the offending body of potential adverse consequences to China-European relations. In January 2000, after the European Parliament adopted a critical resolution, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry responded that the resolution was "groundless" and that its confrontational nature would prove damaging.26 A year later, after E.U. foreign ministers issued an equally condemnatory statement and the European Parliament passed a second critical resolution, China's ambassador to the E.U. warned of the "negative impact."27 China's officials also reminded France, Italy,and Germany of their own problems with "cults," and offered to collaborate against the common threat.28


When Zhang Kunlun, a dual Chinese-Canadian citizen was detained in China for his Falungong-related activities, the Canadian government was forced to defend its policy of trade and private dialogue as a catalyst for changing China's human rights policies.29 By helping secure Zhang's release and assisting in his wife's escape, Prime Minister Jean Chretien was able to keep to his scheduled mid-February 2001 trade mission to China with minimal political fallout. During the visit, Canadian companies signed agreements worth approximately U.S.$3.8 billion.30 To his credit, the prime minister delivered a strong speech denouncing the Chinese government for its human rights abuses including its treatment of Falungong practitioners. A week before the 900-person mission left for China, Canadian Falungong followers charged that Chinese diplomats in Toronto were engaging in a campaign of "direct interference, threat, intimidation, and assault." Foreign Affairs Minister John Manley promised to investigate the complaint, but at the end of November 2001 no further information was available.31 In April, the Chinese consulate in Calgary protested a proclamation by the city of Saskatoon honoring Falungong. The city council refused to withdraw it.32

United States

The Clinton administration went on record immediately after the Chinese government banned Falungong, noting it was "disturbed by reports of the ban, and of some heavy-handed tactics being used to prevent citizens from exercisinginternationally-protected fundamental human rights and freedoms."33 But it was not until the following month, after the U.S. government criticized China for its plan to put Falungong leaders on trial, that Chinese officials went on the offensive against the U.S. position.34 In October, Beijing expressed outrage after a State Department spokesman, in answer to a reporter's question, said that the U.S. had "repeatedly communicated our concern about the crackdown on the Falun Gong at high levels to the Chinese government...We will continue to raise...our concerns..."35 In April 2000, the Clinton administration bluntly told the Chinese government to end its crackdown but did nothing to back up the warning.36 A state department spokesman on October 2, 2000 found China's treatment of demonstrators in Tiananmen Square the day before "very disturbing" and said the U.S. would not stop urging China to respect internationally recognized human rights.37

The U.S. Congress weighed in beginning on August 6, 1999. In November, the House of Representatives passed a resolution calling on China to release Falungong adherents and permit followers to resume practice. A congressional letter on February 5, 2001 emphasized the international standards violated by China in its treatment of Falungong practitioners.

Within a week of President Bush's inauguration, the State Department called for the release of Falungong members who had engaged in peaceful protest.38 In the following months, President Bush continued to express concern about the crackdown on Falungong in the context of his disquiet over religious repression in general. In March, he told visiting Vice-Premier Qian Qichen that it would be "easier [for the U.S. and China] to move forward in a constructive way" if religiousfreedom prevailed in China.39 In May, President Bush again cited persecution of Falungong practitioners as an example of "intensifying attacks" on religious freedoms.40 In July, he queried Hong Kong's chief executive over his administration's treatment of Falungong.41

The repeated U.S. denunciations of the crackdown on Falungong drew sharp rebukes from Chinese officials and the Chinese-controlled press. These accounts typically characterized China's dealings with Falungong as "an expression of China's sovereignty" and U.S. criticism as unwarranted interference in China's internal affairs.42 At times, Chinese officials accused the U.S. administration of "ulterior motives." At other times, officials chastised U.S. diplomats and lawmakers for what they characterized as a failure to understand how dangerous and evil Falungong was.43 For example, Beijing stated its "strong resentment" and "firm opposition" to the November 1999 House of Representatives resolution, even accusing a few congressmen of manipulating the vote.44 China put the new administration on notice that it would brook no interference in its affairs, labeling the Bush administration's initial statement on Falungong "totally unacceptable."45

Beijing also responded indignantly to two of the State Department's annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, one in February 2000, the other a year later; to the State Department's reports on religious repression around theworld; and to the reports of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).46 Religious leaders in China called the USCIRF's 2001 report a "sheer fabrication," commenting that, "[t]he report went so far as to treat the evil cult Falun Gong, rejected in disgust by the Chinese religious circles and the Chinese people, as a religion."47

Chinese authorities also reacted strongly to U.S. willingness to grant political asylum to a Falungong follower, voicing a demand that "this erroneous act" be rectified.48 The outburst did not deter the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service from granting some asylum requests and stating unequivocally that asylum was possible if a petitioner could show "a fear of living in China."49

In spite of the rhetoric, the Chinese government has been careful in its treatment of U.S. citizens or permanent residents detained in connection with Falungong activities in China. Until November 2000, they were briefly detained, then expelled.50 The harder line was signaled when Chinese authorities ignored a U.S. request that Teng Chunyan, a U.S. permanent resident who had been jailed in China in May 2000 be allowed to return home. Instead, within months she wassentenced to a three-year prison term for "disclosing national security information to foreigners."51 Thus far, U.S. efforts on her behalf have been ineffective; and until November 2001 China's intransigence appeared to have succeeded in stopping U.S. residents from traveling to China in support of Falungong.52

The invective China directed at the U.S. over the latter's criticism of the crackdown on Falungong may have been diplomatic posturing, little more than a warning to the U.S. to limit the scope of its criticism. However, despite Chinese warnings, at the annual meetings of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in 2000 and 2001, the U.S. sponsored of resolutions condemning China's human rights record. Both resolutions made mention of the Falungong crackdown; both resolutions failed.

United Nations

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson has repeatedly brought to the attention of China's leaders her concern about the treatment of Falungong and the use of arbitrary detention to hold practitioners.53 But other U.N. agencies have sent a different message. In November 2000, theUnited Nations Development Program (UNDP) co-sponsored an "International Symposium on Cults." The opening remarks of Kerstin Leitner, the agency's resident representative in China, gave official media an opportunity to justify China's crackdown and boast of other countries' support for its efforts.54 She suggested, for example, that "Under some circumstances [religious beliefs] can lead to situations where individuals lose their sense of reality and are led to do things which are not in their best interest. It is at this point that religion becomes more than a personal matter." Ms. Leitner went on to say that "tolerance seems to leave us vulnerable to groups which defy mainstream thinking and values in the name of religious mission."55 A year earlier, in October 1999, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan remarked during a visit to China that after Foreign Minister Tang gave him "a full explanation as to how the government sees the group," he had "a better understanding" of what was involved. "In dealing with this issue, the fundamental rights of citizens will be respected and some of the actions they are taking are for the protection of individuals," he said. At the time, Falungong had already been banned and declared an "evil cult," over one hundred practitioners had been formally arrested, others had been administratively sentenced, and police were using violence in their roundups of peacefully demonstrating practitioners in Tiananmen Square.56

205 Mark Landler, "Hong Kong to Monitor Falun Gong More Closely, Official Says," New York Times, February 4, 2001.

206 "Hong Kong: Government reportedly not to follow mainland ban on Falun Gong," BBC Worldwide Monitoring, July 22, 1999, from Kyodo News Service, July 22, 1999.

207 Priscilla Cheung, "China Sect Stages Hong Kong Protest," Associated Press Online, July 23, 1999. Falungong followers mounted a few earlier protests in the period between the April rally in Beijing and the official July ban.

208 "Hong Kong Won't Sell Sect Books," Associated Press Online, July 31, 1999; "Pager Firm Blocks Sect Calls," South China Morning Post, November 6, 1999.

209 Alex Lo, "Falun Gong conference `slap in the face,'" South China Morning Post, December 9, 1999; "Hong Kong chief executive warns Falun Gong to abide by the law," BBC Worldwide Monitoring, December 11, 1999.

210 "Falun Gong members denied entry into Hong Kong for the first time," BBC Monitoring, June 29, 2000; source, Hong Kong iMail (Internet Version-WWW), June 29, 2000.

211 "We must never allow a small number of people in Macao to carry out activities that are against the central government and split the country," quoted in "Jiang Warns Against Dissent at Macao Celebrations," Reuters, December 20, 2000; Loh Hui Yin, "Macau, HK told - Curb anti-China activities," The Straits Times, December 21, 2000.

212 May Sin-mi Hon, "Pro-Beijing media attacks sect meeting," South China Morning Post, January 11, 2001; Martin Wong, Stella Lee and Jimmy Cheung, "Sect claims offensive, says official: Falun Gong members accused of abusing government tolerance in order to challenge Beijing," South China Morning Post, January 16, 2001.

213 Alex Lo, "Banned Sect to Host SAR talks," South China Morning Post, January 4, 2001; "Falungong, Hong Kong Government Compromise on Planned Demonstration," FBIS, January 8, 2001, from Hong Kong iMaiI (Internet Version-WWW), January 5, 2001; "Expose the Heretical Nature of Falungong," Wen Wei Po (Internet Version-WWW), February 9, 2001, in "wwp editorial attacks heretical nature of falungong," FBIS, February 21, 2001.

214 "SAR Falungong Pledges `Low Profile,' Seeks Public Understanding," in FBIS, February 12, 2001, from Hong Kong iMail (Internet Version-WWW), February 8, 2001; "HK NPC Deputy on Hong Kong's Handling of Falungong Issue," FBIS, February 21, 2001, from Hong Kong iMail (Internet Version-WWW), February 20, 2001.

215 Margaret Wong, "Falun Gong Sect Meets in Hong Kong," Associated Press, January 14, 2001.

216 Clay Chandler, "Hong Kong Detains Adherents of Sect Denounced by Beijing; Falun Gong Tests `Two Systems' Policy," Washington Post, January 14, 2001; Agnes Lam, "Sect march on Beijing office," South China Morning Post, January 14, 2001.

217 Lam, "Sect march...," South China Morning Post.

218 Tyler Marshall, "Hong Kong's Political Autonomy Withstands Beijing's Ban on Falun Gong," Los Angeles Times, January 14, 2001.

219 Wong, "Falun Gong Sect Meets...," Associated Press.

220 Chandler, "Hong Kong Detains Adherents...," Washington Post; Manuel and Johnson, "Falun Dafa Says Hong Kong...," Asian Wall Street Journal.

221 Gren Manuel and Ian Johnson, "Falun Dafa Says Hong Kong Is Less Tolerant of Movement --- Government Permits Conference, but Some Followers Are Turned Away ---Chinese Media Outlets in the City Have Openly Criticized Group," Asian Wall Street Journal, January 14, 2001.

222 Hon, "Pro-Beijing media attacks...," South China Morning Post; "People's Daily Commentary: Falungong Leader Backed by Overseas Anti-China Forces," FBIS, January 8, 2001, from Xinhua, January 7, 2001; "There is a Profound International Background to Falungong's Ability to Fight Back Like a Cornered Beast," Zhongguo Xinwen She, February 8, 2001, in "ZXS Commentary Assails Foreign Support for Falungong," FBIS, February 12, 2001.

223 Stella Lee, "Falun Gong conference aims to disrupt social order," South China Morning Post, January 15, 2001.

224 "Tsang Hin-chi To Brief NPC Standing Committee Meeting on Falungong in Hong Kong," FBIS, February 27, 2001, from "NPC Standing Committee Member Tsang Hin-chi Accuses Falungong of Getting More and More Ferocious and Rampant," Wen Wei Po (Internet Version-WWW), February 26, 2001.

225 "Hong Kong authorities to `keep a watch on' Falun Gong - security secretary," BBC Monitoring, February 1, 2001.

226 Stella Lee, "Falun Gong denies being well-funded," South China Morning Post, March 3, 2001.

227 Kong Lai-Fan, "`Devious' Falun Gong needs monitoring says Regina Ip," South China Morning Post, March 2, 2001.

228 Stella Lee, "Sect complains of increased scrutiny by police," South China Morning Post, March 2, 2001.

229 Stella Lee, "Officials admit keeping an eye on sect," South China Morning Post, March 21, 2001.

230 Dirk Beveridge, "Shifting toward Beijing, Hong Kong leader brands Falun Gong a `cult,'" Associated Press Newswires, February 8, 2001.

231 "Travel ban will not affect protest plans: local Falun Gong," South China Morning Post, April 11, 1001.

232 "PRC Security Personnel Arriving in HK To Monitor Falungong Ahead of Jiang Visit," FBIS, April 27, 2001, from Hong Kong Sing Tao Jih Pao, April 25, 2001, p. A13.

233 "Falun Gong Plans Events in Hong Kong During Jiang's Visit," South China Morning Post, April 18, 2001.

234 "Hong Kong Leader Criticizes Sect," Associated Press, April 26, 2001; "Tung steps up attack on sect," South China Morning Post, April 26, 2001; "Hong Kong freedoms to be tested during Jiang visit," South China Morning Post, April 27, 2001.

235 "PRC Official Approves of Tung Chee-hwa's Remarks on Falungong in HK," FBIS, April 30, 2001, from Wen Wei Po, April 28, 2001; "Donald Tsang Vows to Keep Falungong in Check to Protect Citizens," FBIS, May 1, 2001, from Hong Kong iMail (Internet Version-WWW), April 30, 2001.

236 Niki Law, "Police justify protest ban," South China Morning Post, May 4, 2001; Stella Lee, "HK sect protest moved from forum," South China Morning Post, May 4, 2001; "Jiang Almost Meets the Falun Gong," The Economist, May 10, 2001.

237 "Jiang Zemin to Shorten Hong Kong Visit Due to Planned Protests," South China Morning Post, April 18, 2001.

238 "Hong Kong blocks entry of two U.S. Falun Gong members," South China Morning Post, May 6, 2001; "Group: Hong Kong Deports 2 U.S. Falun Gong Members," Reuters, May 6, 2001; Florence Ng, "Hostile reception for sect members," South China Morning Post, May 9, 2000.

239 "Falun Gong Members Demonstrate," Associated Press, May 8, 2001; "Expulsion of Sect Members `Lawful,'" South China Morning Post, May 11, 2001.

240 "Hong Kong says not barring entry due to religion," South China Morning Post, May 16, 2001.

241 "Ip admits to existence of blacklist," South China Morning Post, May 22, 2001.

242 Regina Ip, "`Our force was justified,'" South China Morning Post, May 30, 2001.

243 "HK: Falungong Announces Weekly `Spiritual Exercises' in Kowloon Park," FBIS, May 15, 2001, from Hong Kong iMail (Internet Version-WWW), May 14, 2001.

244 "Hong Kong Considers Legislation Over Cults Such As Falun Gong," Reuters, May 18, 2001.

245 A source close to Hong Kong political leaders confirmed to Human Rights Watch in July 2001 that such discussions were ongoing.

246 Chris Yeung, "Britain welcomes stance on Falun Gong," South China Morning Post, July 20, 2001.

247 Ellen Chan, "Tung: Falun Gong without a doubt an evil cult," South China Morning Post, June 14, 2001.

248 "Say No To Falun Gong, China Urges People in SE Asia," Dow Jones Newswires, March 2, 2001.

249 John Martinkus, "Thailand's quiet crackdown," South China Morning Post, March 7, 2001.

250 "China Thwarts Cult's Thai Plans," Far Eastern Economic Review, March 15, 2001; "A sect under siege," Straits Times, March 11, 2001.

251 "China Warns Thailand to `Be Vigilant' Over Falungong Activities," Agence France-Presse, February 15, 2001; "Thai FM Spokesman Says Falungong Have Not Asked to Hold Meeting," FBIS, February 16, 2001, from Bangkok Matichon, February 15, 2001.

252 "China Gives Thailand Blacklist of Falungong Leaders, Cult Coordinator Comments," FBIS, February 16, 2001, from The Nation (Internet Version-WWW), February 15, 2001.

253 "A sect under siege," Straits Times.

254 "Falun Gong Cancel Meeting in Thailand," Agence France-Presse, February 26, 2001.

255 "Thais to Monitor Falun Gong During Visit by Chinese Premier," Agence France-Presse, May 17, 2001.

0 Barry Porter, "Sect clampdown spills over," South China Morning Post, August 8, 1999; Jake Lloyd Smith, "Sect hits Singapore media over coverage, advertising `ban,'" South China Morning Post, March 3, 2001.

1 "Singapore Ejects Falun Gong Four, But Not to China," Reuters, July 7, 2001.

2 "Singapore Strips Falungong Follower of Permanent Residence," April 27, 2001, World Reporter-TM Asia Intelligence Wire.

3 "China Asks Tokyo To Snub Falungong," Agence France-Presse, March 7, 2000; "Tokyo City Rejects Falungong Application for Non-Profit Status," Agence France-Presse, March 8, 2000.

4 "Xinhua: Falungong Denied Non-Profit Status in Japan," World News Connection, March 8, 2000.

5 "Overseas Chinese urge Japan to deny Falun Gong request for charitable status," BBC Monitoring, September 4, 2000, from Zhongguo Xinwen She, September 1, 2000.

6 Ambrose Leung, "Tokyo acts to clarify anti-cult legislation `mix-up,'" South China Morning Post, July 24, 2001.

7 "A sect under siege...," Straits Times.

8 Wang Yongzhi, "PRC Consul General in Sydney Interviewed on `Struggle' Against Falungong," World News Connection, July 20, 2000.

9 "Australia raises Falun Gong concerns with China," The Age, August 17, 2000, source AAP.

10 "China: Journal says `hostile forces' back Falun Gong to overturn political power," BBC Monitoring, March 19, 2001, from Qiushi, March 1, 2001, pp.40-42.

11 "Sect leader's Taipei visit thrown into doubt ..." South China Morning Post, December 22, 2000; "Li Hongzhi has delayed a planned trip to Taiwan amid heightened...," South China Morning Post, July 23, 1999.

12 "Sect leader's Taipei visit...," South China Morning Post.

13 Jason Blatt, "Annette Lu addresses sect summit," South China Morning Post, December 24, 2000.

14 "Falun Gong members march in support of PRC compatriots," China Post, December 24, 2000; Blatt, "Annette Lu addresses...," South China Morning Post.

15 "Taiwan Falun Gong Followers Detained at HK Airport," Dow Jones Newswires, May 7, 2001.

16 "E.U.: China says human rights meddling may harm E.U. ties," Reuters, March 2, 2001; Fu Jing, "Religious Leaders Refute US Report," China Daily, May 7, 2001; "HK Paper on Beijing Concerns Over CIA's Involvement in Falungong," FBIS, February 18, 2001, from Hong Kong Sing Tao Jih Pao (Internet Version-WWW), February 18, 2001.

17 Simon Macklin, "U.K. warned letting sect leader in would hurt ties," South China Morning Post, August 18, 1999; "Chinese spiritual leader declines invitation to religious meeting," Associated Press Newswires, August 24, 1999.

18 "UK Rejects Plea to Ban Chinese Cult Leader," FBIS, August 19, 1999, from London Press Association, August 17, 1999.

19 Rupert Cornwell and Sara Bonisteel, "So, did that visit leave Britain feeling proud?" The Independent, October 24, 1999; "China's British Friends," The Economist, October 23, 1999; "Pro-democracy protest shown zero tolerance," Times of London, October 20, 1999; "Falungong sect protest banned in France during Jiang visit," Agence France-Presse, October 21, 1999.

20 "Falun Gong Protest in London," Agence France Presse, January 24, 2001; "London assembly in spat with Chinese ambassador over Falun Gong," Agence France-Presse, February 21, 2001.

21 "Falungong sect protest banned in France...," Agence France-Presse, Oct. 21, 1999.

22 Mary Kwang, "Schroeder: Use soft approach with Beijing," Straits Times, November 6, 1999; "Germany's Schroeder, China's Zhu Discuss Human Rights," Dow Jones International News, November 4, 1999.

23 Heike Phillips, "Dutch visit considered `unwise,'" South China Morning Post, February 8, 2001.

24 "Dutch minister cancels China, Hong Kong trip amid sect row," Agence France-Presse, February 7, 2001; Gren Manuel, "Dutch Postpone Visit to China," Wall Street Journal Europe, February 7, 2001.

25 In contrast, Italy's foreign minister Lamberti Dini appears to have acquiesced to Chinese pressure. After talks with his Chinese counterpart, who contended that the West did not understand the Falungong menace, Dini agreed that other countries were in no position to judge the issue. "Chinese, Italian foreign ministers discuss rights, missile shield," BBC Monitoring, March 21, 2001, from ANSA. In 2000, Italy was one of several countries that reportedly blocked moves by the European Union to co-sponsor a U.S. resolution at the U.N. Commission on Human Rights meeting in Geneva condemning China for its human rights abuses. "China Averts U.N. Human Rights Censure; U.S.-Sponsored Resolution Fails on Procedural Vote; Cuba, Yugoslavia Cited," Washington Post, April 19, 2000.

26 "Chinese spokesman criticizes EU's resolution on China's human rights," BBC Worldwide Monitoring, January 26, 2000, from Zhongguo Xinwen She, January 25, 2000.

27 "E.U. Moves to Step up Human Rights Dialogue with China," Agence France-Presse, January 22, 2001; "Chinese spokesman criticizes EU's resolution...," BBC Worldwide Monitoring, Jan. 26, 2000; "E.U. urges China to stop oppression of opponents," Associated Press Newswires, February 23, 2001; "E.U.: China says human rights meddling...," Reuters, March 2, 2001.

28 "China: Anti-cult Association ends week-long visit to France," BBC Monitoring, April 1, 2001, from Xinhua, March 31, 2001; "China: Falun Gong, a cult, should be combated in any country," China Daily, August 18, 1999; "China slams European resolution on rights, Tibet, persecution," BBC Worldwide Monitoring, January 31, 2000, from Xinhua, January 31, 2000.

29 "Chretien turns up the heat on China," Globe and Mail, February 15, 2001; "PM vows to press China on rights," Globe and Mail, March 17, 2001.

30 "Canadian companies sign pacts worth $27b," South China Morning Post, February 14, 2001.

31 "Canada To Investigate Falun Gong Complaints," Central News Agency (Taiwan), February 8, 2001, from World Reporter (TM) - Asia Intelligence Wire.

32 "Chinese consulate criticizes Saskatoon's proclamation honoring Falun Gong," Canadian Press, April 1, 2001.

33 "U.S. disturbed by China's decision to ban sect," Associated Press Newswires, July 22, 1999.

34 "State Department urges China not to prosecute religious group," Associated Press Newswires, August 25, 1999; "Beijing slams U.S. `Meddling over sect,'" South China Morning Post, August 27, 1999; "China Lashes Out at United States for Thwarting the Rectification of Falungong," Ming Pao, August 27, 1999, in "US Accused of Thwarting Anti-Falungong Movement," FBIS, August 30, 1999.

35 US Department of State, Daily Press Briefing, October 27, 1999, Transcript by Federal Document Clearing House; "China resentful over US official Rubin's remarks on Falun Gong sect," BBC Worldwide Monitoring, October 28, 1999, from Xinhua, October 28, 1999.

36 "The Clinton administration has told Beijing to stop its crackdown on...," South China Morning Post, April 27, 2001.

37 "U.S. disturbed by Chinese crackdown on spiritual movement," Associated Press Newswires, October 2, 2000.

38 "China criticizes U.S. comments on Falun Gong crackdown," Associated Press Newswires, January 25, 2001.

39 Jim VandeHei, "Bush Signals Hard Line to China's Vice Premier," Wall Street Journal, March 23, 2001.

40 Scott Lindlaw, "President criticizes Chinese religious restrictions," Associated Press Newswires, May 4, 2001.

41 "Bush quizzes Tung over treatment of Falun Gong," South China Morning Post, July 13, 2001.

42 See for example, "Newspapers Urge U.S. Govt Not to Interfere in China's Internal Affairs," January 28, 2001; Editorial, "Banning Cult According to Law is an Internal Affair Which Brooks No Interference," Ta Kung Pao, January 27, 2001, in "TKP Editorial Blames USA for Interfering in China's Handling of Falungong Sect," FBIS, January 27, 2001; Wen Wei Bao Editorial, "Opposition to the United States' Shielding `Falungong's' Anti-China Activities," Wen Wei Po, January 27, 2001, in "Wen Wei Po Editorial Slams US Support of Falungong," FBIS, January 29, 2001; "China Refutes Alleged `Falun Gong' Crackdown," People's Daily Online, January 26, 2001.

43 Erik Eckholm, "Beijing, Turning Tables, Defends its Repression of Sect," New York Times, February 28, 2001; "China Says West Aiding Falun Gong Revolt Plot," Reuters, September 29, 2000; Joe McDonald, "China detains American, Australians, Swede," Associated Press Newswires, November 25, 1999.

44 "China, US resolution causes strong resentment, opposition," China Daily, November 20, 1999.

45 "China criticizes U.S. comments...," Associated Press Newswires, January 25, 2001.

46 "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: China," Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State;, February 2001;, February 2000. U.S. Department of State Annual Report on International Religious Freedom for 1999, Released by the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, September 9, 1999,; for 2000, September 5, 2000, Report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, May 1, 2001,; May 1, 2000,

47 "Chinese religious leaders protest against US report on religious freedom," BBC Monitoring, May 5, 2001, from Xinhua, May 5, 2001; Eckholm, "Beijing, Turning Tables...," New York Times.

48 "US asylum offer for Falun Gong member infuriates Beijing," South China Morning Post, November 10, 1999.

49 "US Official: Falun Gong Members May Be Granted Asylum," Dow Jones Newswires, February 16, 2000; Amy Westfeldt, "Falun Gong member wins asylum in New Jersey," Associated Press Newswires, April 25, 2000.

50 "Alabama Couple Arrives from China After Detention," Dow Jones International News, October 25, 2000; "Detained Falun Gong Member Released," Associated Press Newswires, February 11, 2000; "Bridgewater woman freed after arrest in China for belonging to Falun Gong," Associated Press Newswires, February 5, 2000; "China To Free Coloradan Highlands Ranch Woman, Was Arrested As Member of Spiritualist Movement Suppressed By Government," Denver Rocky Mountain News, December 15, 1999.

51 Christopher Bodeen, "China sentences U.S. based Falun Gong member for spying," Associated Press Newswires, December 12, 2000; "U.S. Pressures China Over Jailed Falun Gong `Spy,'" Reuters, December 14, 2000.

52 On November 20, thirty-five Falungong practitioners from the U.S., Europe, Australia, and Canada raised a banner in Tiananmen Square to protest China's treatment of Chinese Falungong members. In less than a minute, security officials dragged the demonstrators to waiting vans, apparently roughing up several in the process. Philip P. Pan, "China Arrests Foreigners at Rally; Group Protests Violence Against Falun Gong," Washington Post, November 21, 2001. They were detained for approximately a day before being deported. According to a Chinese spokesperson, from the start of the protest, the protestors were treated in accordance with the law. "Chinese spokeswoman says deported Falun Gong members treated `humanely,'" BBC Monitoring, November 23, 2001, from China National Radio Taiwan, November 22, 2001. According to practitioners, police kicked, punched, and otherwise assaulted at least some of the protestors. S.C. Chang, "CNA: Canadian Falungong Protestors Say PRC Authorities Broke Law," World News Connection, November 30, 2001; Christopher Bodeen, "Sweden protests treatment of Western Falungong demonstrators," Associated Press Newswires, November 22, 2001. Several international journalists were detained and questioned by Chinese authorities for covering the protest. "China: RSF says foreign journalists still persecuted for covering Falun Gong," BBC Monitoring, December 5, 2001, from Reporters Sans Frontieres press release, December 1, 2001.

53 "U.N. chief cites deterioration in China's rights record," Associated Press Newswires, March 3, 2000; "Mary Robinson clashes with China over sect," Irish Times, February 28, 2001.

54 Ian Johnson, "U.N.-Backed Conference in Beijing on Evil Cults,'" Wall Street Journal Europe, November 22, 2000.

55 "Opening Remarks by Kerstin Leitner, UNDP Resident Representative in China International Symposium on Cult Issues," November 9, 2000.

56 Renee Schoof, "20 Falun Dafa members arrested as Annan questions ban," Associated Press, November 17, 1999.

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