04/26/2006, 00.00
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Beijing condemns Falun Gong as an anti-China political organisation

Chinese Foreign Ministry demands US stop the group's activities after a member interrupts a speech by Hu Jintao at the White House.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – The Chinese government has condemned the Falun Gong spiritual group—which it describes as an "anti-China political group"—for the incident last week that allowed one of its member, Wang Wenyi, to interrupt a speech by Chinese President Hu Jintao on the White House lawn. A valid journalist pass gave the 47-year old woman access to the press area from where she briefly heckled the Chinese leader as he was addressing US President George W. Bush, drawing the attention of international TV media.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said yesterday that Beijing made representations to Washington about the incident. Mr Qin told a news briefing that this "demonstrates once again that Falun Gong is not only a cult but also an anti-China political organization with base political intentions". He also called on the United States to stop the group's "anti-China's activities".

The Falun Gong is a self-styled spiritual organisation inspired by Buddhist and Taoist techniques of meditation, callisthenics and diets and has a great following on mainland China. It has however been banned since 1999 as an evil cult, and its members have been violently persecuted by the police and secret services.

Dr Wang, a doctor, got access to the press conference with a press pass provided by the Epoch Times, a publication tied to Falun Gong. Before she was taken away by security personnel, she was able to shout in Chinese: "Stop the oppression of Falun Gong!" To Hu Jintao she said: "Your days are numbered!" To Bush she said in English: "President Bush, stop him from killing!"

Two days after the incident, Ms Wang was charged in federal court with a misdemeanor of willfully intimidating, coercing, threatening and harassing a foreign official. Such a misdemeanor is punishable by up to six months in prison and a fine of US ,000. Her attorney said she only exercised her right to free speech.

The US government apologised to Hu Jintao for the incident, but questions remain as to how she got through security since Ms Wang is known for similar actions. In 2001 she got through security in Malta and interrupted a speech by then Chinese President Jiang Zemin.

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