Clinton Given Falun Gong Book

The Associated Press, September 12, 1999

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) - As China and the United States sought to mend recently damaged ties, President Jiang Zemin gave President Clinton an unusual gift: a book defending China's ban on a popular meditation sect.

During their hourlong summit Saturday, Jiang handed Clinton a book purporting to expose the crimes committed by Li Hongzhi, founder of Falun Gong, the popular group that China's communist government outlawed in July.

Titled "Li Hongzhi and His 'Falun Gong:' Deceiving the Public and Ruining Lives,"the book's 150 pages in English is a relentless barrage of propaganda from China's entirely state-run media.

The book contains gruesome photographs of Chinese allegedly made so crazy by practicing Falun Gong that they committed suicide, were killed or mutilated their family members. It claims 1,404 people have died, mostly for refusing medical treatment as instructed by Falun Gong teachings. Documentation and attribution are sketchy.

Falun Gong preaches a blend of Buddhist and Taoist ideas and slow-motion exercises that believers say promote health and morality. Millions of followers in China and around the world say the group is peaceful and voluntary.

Far from an academic exercise, Jiang's gift seemed intended to head off a new human rights dispute.

China maintains that the group represents a threat to public order and that its founder has used the group to deceive people and amass a fortune. Beijing has asked the international police agency, Interpol, to arrest Li, who lives in New York.

But Interpol has turned the request down, saying Li has committed no crimes recognized under international law. Governments worldwide have refused to follow China's lead and ban the group.

Since the crackdown, an unknown number of Falun Gong devotees have been arrested. And China has vowed to severely punish leading members.

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