Falun Gong deny bankrolling Chen

Sydney, Australia - Defecting Chinese diplomat Chen Yonglin has only been receiving basic assistance from the Falun Gong meditation movement, the leader of a Chinese pro-democracy group says.

Federation for a Democratic China leader Chin Jin said Mr Chen, who was granted an Australian permanent protection visa after defecting from the Chinese consulate in Sydney in May, was likely to be living largely off his savings.

Reports in New Ltd papers said Mr Chen was bankrolled by Falun Gong to speak at functions organised by the movement, which is banned in China.

But Mr Chin said Falun Gong was only providing Chen with food and accommodation, as if he and his family were guests.

"Chen Yonglin is staying in a place where the accommodation is provided by the Falun Gong people, I would say this is not wrong, but financially funded, I don't think so," Mr Chin said.

Mr Chin said Chen would have his own money, earned during his four-year tenure as political affairs attache at China's consulate in Sydney.

"I don't think he was penniless before he defected," he said.

"On the first day I met him, on June 4, he paid the taxi driver the fare from his own pocket, I didn't see Falun Gong pay him anything."

Mr Chen, who left the consulate over the persecution of Falun Gong members and other political dissidents by the Chinese government, has claimed China had a network of 1,000 spies in Australia.

Falun Gong spokesman Grant Lu said it was against Falun Gong's teachings to give someone money for political purposes.

"Our teachings say anyone making money from Falun Gong is not a Falun Gong member," he said.

"Anyone who uses Falun Gong for political purposes is not a Falun Gong member.

"That is not the role of a Falun Gong practitioner."

The group had no money but members looked after people in need out of their own pocket under their principles of truth, compassion and tolerance, Mr Lu said.

"Falun Gong could not pay him, we don't have a bank account," he said.

Mr Chin said he did not think Mr Chen, his wife Jing Ping and their six-year-old daughter had lived extravagantly over the past month, but since being granted a permanent protection visa he could now find a job or apply for the dole.