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The BBC's Wingfield-Hayes in Beijing
"Falun Gong is banned in China but is legal in Macau"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 20 December, 2000, 08:55 GMT
China warns Macau over dissidents
Plain clothes police arrest a Falun Gong follower in Macau
Police swooped on Falun Gong members ahead of Mr Jiang's visit
A group of Falun Gong members were arrested in Macau as Chinese President Jiang Zemin told local administrators to halt dissident activity in the former Portuguese colony.

Mr Jiang was speaking at the beginning of a three-day visit to Macau on the first anniversary of its return to Chinese rule.


We must never allow a small number of people in Macau to carry out activities that are against the central government

Jiang Zemin
Beijing has banned the Falun Gong spiritual movement but the group is legal in Macau and nearby Hong Kong.

However local police arrested nearly 20 activists as they practised their slow-paced exercises in a park.

The Chinese president said Beijing would not intervene in the province's daily affairs - but the local authorities should not allow any activity that threatened the authority of China.

China's authority

Mr Jiang added that his message applied to Hong Kong, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under the same "one country, two systems" formula allowing both former colonies a high degree of autonomy.

Chinese President Jiang Zemin arrives in Macau accompanied by wife, Wang Ye Ping
Mr Jiang issued a similar warning to Hong Kong

"We must never allow a small number of people in Macau to carry out activities that are against the central government and split the country," President Zemin told a large gathering of officials from China, Macau and Hong Kong.

Members of the Falun Gong shouted slogans, kicked and screamed as police frog-marched them into a police van.

According to Hong Kong's Cable Television the members were later released and allowed to carry on with their exercise.

Local police described their arrest as a "misunderstanding".

Frank Lu, director of the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, said the clampdown in Macau proved China was not respecting its commitments.

He and other pro-democracy activists from Hong Kong who were planning to petition President Jiang were turned back by Macau immigration, as were 20 followers of Falun Gong.

Law and order

Members of the Falun Gong
Falun Gong is legal in both Macau and Hong Kong
The Chinese leader praised the performance of Macau's Chief Executive Edmund Ho, saying the economy and rampant gangland crime had been effectively tackled.

Concerns were expressed earlier this year that cross-boundary crimes in Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong had increased since the handover of Hong Kong in 1997 and Macau in 1999 to China.

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See also:

17 Nov 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
China's changing face
20 Dec 99 | Asia-Pacific
China takes over in Macau
19 Dec 99 | Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Macau returns to China
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