China to outlaw mystical group similar to Falun Gong

Inside China Today/September 29, 2000
By Agence France Presse

China is gearing up to brand another mystical group an "evil cult" in a bid to prevent spiritual groups from achieving powerful influence like the outlawed Falun Gong, a human rights group said Thursday.

The Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said it had learned from sources that the Communist Party plans to formally declare the Zhong Gong spiritual group an evil cult in its 15th session of the 5th plenary meeting, which begins on October 9.

Zhong Gong has been under attack since the government banned Falun Gong in July last year. The government considers the group an illegal organization and over the past year police have arrested 600 Zhong Gong group leaders and shut down 3,000 of its training stations.

The group's founder and spiritual guru Zhang Hongbao has fled to the US island of Guam and last week obtained the right to stay in the United States under a law that protects people facing torture at home. He failed to win approval for political asylum.

The Chinese government has requested Zhang be repatriated. Authorities have also been questioning Zhong Gong members throughout China, interrogating them about the group's network and how long members had been practicing, the center said.

Zhang on Wednesday issued a letter to his followers through the center, thanking them for their support while he was applying for political asylum in Guam, the center said.

Zhang claimed in the message that there are 40 million Zhong Gong followers in China.

He compared his current state of exile as similar to persecutions against other religious leaders in history.

He defiantly said "the political persecution the Chinese Communist Party is putting me through is just giving me an opportunity to practice bearing insult and building my inner strength."

He told his followers he would be practicing with them on the first and 15th of each month, despite his distance.

"In merely 18 years, we've grown to 40 million members," Zhang wrote in the letter. "I believe, 40 million practitioners, will definitely bring happiness to the world ... purify people's hearts ... bring peace to people on earth."

Zhong Gong, along with the better-known Falun Gong, is considered a major threat to Communist Party rule in China. China banned the Falun Gong movement in July last year and has since jailed core leaders for up to 18 years and sent tens of thousands to re-education camps.

Rooted in traditional Chinese martial arts exercises, both have commanded a following of tens of millions, many disillusioned by growing corruption and social problems in China.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.