China Issues Rules To Limit Growth Of Falungong-Like Movements

Inside China, September 16, 2000

By Agence France Presse

China has released new rules aimed at preventing groups practicing "qigong" -- traditional martial arts-based breathing exercises -- from gaining the kind of influence Falungong attained before it was banned.

"Temporary Measures for the Management of Qigong Exercises," published in the China Sports Daily, put strict limits on exercise groups, while seeking to make it easier for authorities to control them.

As all but a tiny minority begin to spurn communist ideology and traditional belief-systems gain ground, Beijing is considering movements like Falungong the gravest threat to its authority since the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

The new rules state that qigong exercise groups are not allowed to encourage superstitious ideas or to "deify individuals."

This seems to be an attempt to keep charismatic leaders from attaining the powerful status enjoyed by people such as Li Hongzhi, founder of the Falungong, or Zhang Hongbao, the master of Zhonggong, another large spiritual movement.

The rules make it possible for authorities to monitor "qigong" groups every step of the way.

For any kind of exercise, regardless of size, the arrangers must apply 15 days in advance for the green light, and the authorities in turn will inform the police.

Exercises involving more than 200 members must obtain prior permission directly from the police.

The regulations also tell "qigong" practitioners to restrict their exercises to "suitable" venues to ensure they do not disturb social order or disrupt the traffic.

That gives the authorities a legal basis for limiting the activities of "qigong" practitioners and avoid some of the embarrassments inflicted by groups like Falungong in the past.

The Chinese government was first alerted to the strength of Falungong after the movement caught the leadership off-guard by assembling 10,000 followers around the Communist Party headquarters in Beijing in April last year.

Three months later, the authorities banned the movement, and started a propaganda barrage blasting it as an "evil cult."

Since then, a total of 50 Falungong members are reported to have died while in police custody.

China has sentenced 450 members to prison, sent 600 to mental hospitals, placed 10,000 in labor camps and locked up another 20,000 in temporary detention centers, according to reports.


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