China Regrets Congress's Resolution on Falun Gong

Reuters, November 19, 1999

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - China said on Friday that it deeply regretted a U.S. congressional resolution on the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement and added that U.S. government criticism of a crackdown on the group could damage relations.

A human rights dialogue between China and the United States, suspended after the United States bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in May, will not resume until the United States stops interfering in Chinese affairs, added the spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington.

The spokesman, Yu Shuning, called a news conference in response to a non-binding House of Representatives resolution critical of China passed late on Thursday.

The resolution said: "The Government of the People's Republic of China should stop persecuting Falun Gong practitioners and other religious believers."

It also said the U.S. government should urge the Chinese government to release all Falun Gong practitioners and allow them to pursue their religious beliefs.

The sponsors included House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt of Missouri, House International Relations Committee Chairman Benjamin Gilman of New York and vocal China critic Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat.

Falun Gong is a mixture of Buddhism and Taoism with meditation and breathing exercises. More than 100 members of the group have been arrested for membership.

Yu said: "To our deep regret, some American lawmakers, by attacking the Chinese Government's handling of the Falun Gong case, have chosen to associate themselves with, and indeed to act as apologists for a deadly and infamous cult."

"While expressing our strong resentment and resolute opposition to their act, I would like to appeal to them not to tarnish their great institution by supporting an evil cult, to spare China-U.S. relations from gratuitous harm," he added.

The Chinese government says that Falun Gong has disrupted public order, undermined stability and spread "heretical" ideas such as belief in an imminent doomsday. It says more than 1,000 members have died by refusing medical treatment.

Yu said the Beijing had told the United States government not to interfere in what it considers an internal affair.

"We do not see this as a human rights issue. This is a criminal cult which shall be dealt with in accordance with the law so that they will not continue inflicting great harm on the people," he added.

Asked if the human rights dialogue would resume, as the United States has requested, he said: "We say that conditions should be created for the resumption of this -- for instance, an end to interference in China's internal affairs under the pretext of human rights violations."


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