Beijing moves to discredit Falun Gong
CNN Senior China Analyst
HONG KONG, China (CNN) -- Beijing authorities have started a nationwide movement to discredit the Falun Gong as a quasi-terrorist sect bent on violating international telecom regulations and "challenging modern civilization."
The new campaign followed an elaborate press conference on Monday, in which senior officials from broadcast and IT departments said Falun Gong members had hijacked state-run satellite signals and hacked into TV news and weather programs in order to spread their quasi-Buddhist gospel.
The senior officials said the alleged sabotage was perpetrated by Falun Gong members outside the country.
Official news agencies and newspapers on Wednesday ran numerous interviews with telecom professors, meteorologists as well as ordinary citizens, who accused the Falun Gong of the new crime of upsetting public order and damaging internationally accepted values.
In past anti-Falun Gong propaganda salvoes, the emphasis had been on the damage the group had allegedly done to the health of gullible worshippers and their relatives.
The focus this time was, in the words of the Xinhua news agency, on how the group had "wantonly trampled upon international telecom regulations, openly challenged modern civilization, the world order and public morality of mankind."
Several citizens interviewed by the official media also said Beijing should bring to justice overseas Falun Gong members suspected of the crime.
Political analysts in Beijing said Chinese authorities were portraying the spiritual group as a semi-terrorist sect that is out to destroy modern civilization.
Beijing would then put pressure on Western governments which had allowed Falun Gong cells to recruit new members and raise funds in their countries of exile.
A Hong Kong paper has reported that local police had begun investigations on whether local Falun Gong practitioners had taken part in the operation to sabotage telecom satellites in China.
However, a spokesman for the Hong Kong Government's Security Bureau said Hong Kong police had not received any request from Chinese law-enforcement units to help in the investigation of hacking into mainland TV signals.
"We have no information showing that interference in (the mainland telecom) signals has originated from Hong Kong," the spokesman said.
And the spokesman of the Hong Kong branch of the Falun Gong, Kan Hung-chang told CNN that he had no knowledge of Hong Kong-based practitioners involved in the alleged sabotage.
"This could be a smearing campaign by Beijing to discredit the Falun Gong in the eyes of the world," said Kan.
"It is even possible that the interference in TV broadcasts was done by official technicians -- and then the blame was put on the Falun Gong."
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