No Falun Gong in Vietnam: official

Hanoi, Vietnam - The Falun Gong spiritual group, outlawed in China, does not exist in Vietnam despite a report to the contrary, the foreign affairs ministry said Thursday.

"At the moment, Falun Gong does not exist" (in Vietnam), Le Dung, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told a media briefing when asked to comment on a BBC report.

"Vietnam encourages all sports activities or activities to improve the health of the people. However, all the activities must be compliant with the Vietnamese regulations and laws."

Falun Gong, which is loosely based on Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian philosophies, was founded in 1992. The sect grew in China to include tens of millions of followers in 1999, prompting the government there to ban it as an "evil cult."

The movement has a fast-growing number of followers in Vietnam but the exact number is unknown, the BBC reported on its website this week.