China lashes out at US resolution on Falungong

AFP/March 18, 2010

Beijing - China on Thursday lashed out at a US House of Representatives resolution that urged Beijing to end its "persecution" of the outlawed Falungong spiritual group.

The House voted nearly unanimously on Tuesday to call on China to free thousands of members of the movement who are said to be imprisoned and to abolish a government office tasked with fighting the movement.

"The US House of Representatives passed a so-called resolution on Falungong which made groundless accusations and confuses right and wrong," foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters.

"China is firmly against such a resolution."

The resolution, which is not legally binding, asked China to "immediately cease and desist from its campaign to persecute, intimidate, imprison and torture Falungong practitioners".

Falungong - a movement loosely based on Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian philosophies - enjoyed growing popularity among the Chinese in the 1990s.

China's communist government banned the group in 1999 and later branded it an "evil cult" after thousands of practitioners silently converged in Beijing to air their grievances, showing their organisational might.

"Falungong is an anti-human, anti-society and anti-science cult," Qin said.

"The Chinese government outlawed the cult according to law. We hope the US congressmen recognise the nature of the cult and stop interfering in China's internal affairs."

The resolution - which a total of 412 lawmakers voted for and only one rejected - comes at a time of strained relations between China and the United States over issues such as Taiwan and Tibet.

Washington angered Beijing in January by approving the sale of 6.4 billion dollars worth of weapons to Taiwan and again when US President Barack Obama met the Dalai Lama at the White House last month.

The two nations have also been at odds over Beijing's management of its yuan currency, with US senators introducing legislation Tuesday that would impose tough new penalties on China if it failed to let the yuan rise in value.

Last week, Obama also renewed calls for China to embrace a "market-oriented" exchange rate.

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