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China Blames Falun Gong in TV Hacking

China says the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement recently hacked into TV programs across the country. Officials say the pirated broadcast promoting the banned group came from Taiwan.

Angry officials at China's Taiwan Affairs office demand that Taiwan capture and punish whoever hacked into Chinese state television broadcasts on September 9 and 21. Spokesman Zhang Mingqing called the hacking a criminal act that violates people's rights and could damage cross-strait relations.

The hackers took over a satellite signal that normally transmits state television programs across the country, particularly in rural areas.

It is the latest effort by Falun Gong followers to spread their message inside China, where it has been banned as an "evil cult."

China declared Falun Gong illegal in 1999 after a large but peaceful protest demanding official recognition of their faith. The group's beliefs are a mix of Taoism, Buddhism and Chinese traditions interpreted by the group's founder.

Last week, China jailed 15 members of the Falun Gong for earlier pirated broadcasts that apparently reached fewer viewers than this month's effort.

The incident comes at a sensitive time for China as the country gets ready for the Communist Party Congress in November, when a new generation of leaders may take power. Security officials have been working hard to prevent protests that could disrupt the proceedings or embarrass the government.

Broadcast officials on Taiwan say they are investigating the incident, but call Beijing's allegations "far-fetched."

Taiwan split from China politically amid civil war in 1949, and has been ruled separately ever since. China contends the island is part of its territory.