China draws get-tough message
By CNN staff
HONG KONG, China -- Chinese Vice-Premier Li Lanqing has made an implicit link between Beijing's winning Games bid and the Western world's endorsement of its tough tactics to maintain social stability.
While touring an official exhibition of the activities of evil cults on Monday, Li said Communist Party authorities had scored a "major victory" over the Falun Gong.
Li added the Olympic nod for Beijing was "the international community's affirmation of our country's social stability, social progress, economic prosperity and the people's healthy lives."
The vice premier then called upon Chinese to "redouble their efforts" in combating the Falun Gong to ensure the country's long-term peace and stability.
Li, who heads an internal Communist party leading group on fighting the quasi-Buddhist spiritual group, was in Moscow last week to present Beijing's case to the International Olympic Committee.
He said on Monday the Falun Gong, while weakened, might still change tactics and wreak more havoc on society.
An internal public security circular issued in the spring had admitted that the fight against the movement would be a "long-term struggle."
Meanwhile, Kan Hung-cheung, a Hong Kong spokesman for the Falun Gong, said Beijing had upped the ante in its suppression of the movement.
Kan told Hong Kong's Foreign Correspondents' Club on Tuesday that more than 250 Falun Gong practitioners had died while in detention in mainland China.
"They [security forces] are forcing practitioners to go through brain-washing sessions," said Kan, adding that cases of abuse and torture had increased.
Kan said the deaths were due to torture in detention centers, despite claims by Chinese authorities that they were caused by heart diseases or suicides.
Speaking on the same occasion, Father Stephen Chan, a representative of the Hong Kong Catholic Church said it was opposed to leading Hong Kong officials calling the Falun Gong an "evil cult."
He added the church and other organizations in Hong Kong were disturbed by reports that the Hong Kong administration had considered enacting an anti-cult law.
"Human beings have rights to form voluntary associations and to express their beliefs freely," Chan said, adding the Hong Kong government had offered no proof that Falun Gong activities would harm society.
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