02/04/2009, 00.00
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Chinese banknotes with “hidden” Falun Gong messages

Thousands of five- and ten-yuan banknotes are marked with pro-Falun Gong messages. The spiritual group is banned on the mainland and any propaganda in its favour is punished. Ordinary people stuck with the marked banknotes are now scared to spend them.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The banned Falun Gong spiritual movement is countering China’s official censorship by printing messages on real renminbi banknotes and putting them back into circulation to mark the 10th anniversary of its banning.

Messages are in fine print, and the ink colour is very close to the original colour of the money, usually Five and ten-yuan notes—only by closely looking at them can the message be noticed.

The messages defend the group’s beliefs and ask the central government to stop persecuting its members.

Many such banknotes were found, especially in Yunnan and Sichuan.

The movement preaches mediation and spiritual and physical self-improvement, but is considered “evil” and dangerous by the government, which outlawed it on 22 July 1999. Followers can end up in jail and any kind of proselytising by them is severely punished.

This is causing real problems to those who end up with them because if they try to spend these banknotes they might be accused of spreading the Falun Gong message. Some people have had banks refuse to take them even though they are real banknotes. 

Falun Gong followers are very creative in trying to counter censorship in other ways as well. Many DVD sold by street vendors have had pro- Falun Gong propaganda messages inserted in the middle of otherwise ordinary movies.

Official sources from the group have reported that persecution in China is responsible for the death of more than 3,000 followers, the torture of another 63,000 and the arrest of many hundreds of thousands.

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