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Monday, April 26, 1999 Published at 10:41 GMT 11:41 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

China tightens security in Beijing after cult demonstration

The Chinese authorities have increased security around government buildings in Beijing, following a mass demonstration in the city by a sect promoting meditation and martial arts.

The protesters, numbering about ten-thousand, dispersed late on Sunday after officials met their representatives.

The demonstrators are followers of the Falun Gong movement and were protesting against the detention of cult members.

China's official media failed to report the demonstration, which was the largest since the pro-democracy movement of 1989, and the BBC Beijing correspondent says the scale and boldness of the protest has clearly shaken the authorities. He says the government is concerned at the ability of such movements to take the place of conventional ideology and recently called for a crackdown on religious and superstitious cults.

Officials say a move to grant Falun Gong official status is being considered.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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