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China Accuses Taiwan of Falun Gong Illegal Broadcasts - 2002-10-30

Beijing says the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement has interfered with China's satellite television broadcasts again. China's government said the interference came from Taiwan.

A spokesman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office said the people who disrupted the broadcasts should be tracked down by officials on Taiwan and punished.

Li Weiyi said Falun Gong supporters affected the normal broadcast of programs.

There were two incidents in the past week. Officials did not make it clear if the illegal broadcasts just blocked normal television signals or attempted to put Falun Gong programming on the air.

Beijing says Falun Gong members hacked into the satellite transponders that beam Chinese state television programs to viewers. Last month, China complained about a similar incident, but officials on Taiwan dismissed the matter as "far-fetched."

The incidents come at a sensitive time in Chinese politics as the ruling Communist Party gets ready for a Party Congress next month that will likely announce new leadership for the country. Television officials have threatened to fire workers at local stations if Falun Gong supporters manage to get programming on the air or disrupt broadcasts of the Party Congress.

The Falun Gong movement was branded an "evil cult" and banned in China in 1999 after thousands of followers staged a demonstration near the compound that houses China's leaders.

Since then, the government has arrested thousands of the group's followers. Some members say those arrested have been tortured and some have died while under arrest.

Falun Gong combines traditional Chinese breathing exercises with beliefs borrowed from Buddhism and Taoism. The practice is legal in Taiwan.