China fights Falun Gong sect in U.S. - ex-diplomat
by Paul Eckert (Reuters, July 21, 2005)
Washington, USA - China's diplomats and agents in the United States help Beijing to carry out a crackdown on the Falun Gong spiritual sect, a former Chinese diplomat who is seeking asylum in Australia said on Thursday.
Chen Yonglin told a congressional panel probing China's human rights record that his job for the past four years at the Chinese consulate in Sydney was to spy on and to persecute followers of Falun Gong, which China banned in 1999 after branding it an "evil cult."
He presented documents naming six diplomats in the mission he fled in May who worked for a Chinese government agency whose "sole task is to monitor and persecute the Falun Gong."
"To my knowledge, similar groups have been established in the Chinese missions in the United States and all other countries where the Falun Gong is active," Chen said in testimony to the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations.
"I know that there are over 1,000 Chinese secret agents and informants in Australia and the number in the United States should not be less," he said.
The Chinese embassy in Washington could not be reached for comment. On July 11, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said "lies created" by Chen did not merit an official response.
Chen said Beijing viewed the United States and Australia as main Falun Gong bases abroad and Chinese diplomats there were required to denounce the group, distribute anti-sect brochures and pressure businesses, schools and media to shun Falun Gong.
Falun Gong is an amalgam of religions, meditation and exercises that the Chinese government began crushing after 10,000 members surrounded the Communist leadership's Beijing compound in a dawn protest in 1999.
Falun Gong practitioners say between 1,000 and 2,000 followers died from police brutality and 100,000 were sent to labor camps in the crackdown. But the figures have not been confirmed independently.
Chen, 37, said he was told in 2003 by a top official from a team set up in the Chinese Foreign Ministry to fight Falun Gong that there were 60,000 followers in China, half in prison camps and half under tight government control.
Other witnesses told the hearing that Chinese officials or persons linked to U.S. missions harassed The Epoch Times newspaper and New Tang Dynasty Television, media outlets run by Falun Gong practitioners in the United States.
Chen, his wife and their daughter were granted permanent residence in Australia on July 8. He has said China kidnaps critics and he could be jailed or killed if he returned home.
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