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Monday, July 26, 1999 Published at 06:09 GMT 07:09 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

China renews attack on sect

Falun Gong members have been ordered to hand over their literature

By James Miles in Beijing

China's Communist Party newspaper says the recently outlawed Falun Gong sect has created serious problems within the party, with some members becoming leaders of the cult.

David Willis: "Members have been driven underground except in Hong Kong"
The People's Daily, which is run by the Central Committee, called for an urgent tightening of discipline within the party's ranks.

The Communist Party maintains that only a small number of its members had joined the Falun Gong sect before it was outlawed last week.

But it clearly regards this as evidence of a serious breakdown of discipline.

In a front page commentary, the People's Daily said a very small number of party members had become leaders of the sect, which had gained a following of millions of people across China in recent years.

Sect penetration

Officials say the sect had even penetrated the military and key government departments.

The People's Daily blamed this on the slack organisation of some party branches, with some members and officials not even bothering to turn up to party meetings.

The newspaper said the question of whether party members upheld Marxist-Leninism or the teachings of the Falun Gong sect was a major issue of principle.

It called on party members to return to what it called the party's correct stance.

Extending campaign overseas

Officials are also trying to extend the campaign against Falun Gong to Chinese overseas, among whom the sect has a significant following.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry's Party Committee has called for efforts to dissuade Chinese students studying abroad from following the sect.

The office in charge of Hong Kong and Macao affairs has said that Falun Gong had "a pernicious influence" in these areas.

It said that when Hong Kong and Macao residents became aware of the true nature of Falun Gong they would cast the cult aside without mercy.

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