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Tuesday, July 27, 1999 Published at 09:00 GMT 10:00 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

China sect leader calls for help

Feet up: Chinese policemen relaxing near Tiananmen Square

The leader of the Chinese Falun Gong sect, Li Hongzhi, has called for international support for his organisation, which was banned by the Chinese authorities last week.

David Willis: "Members have been driven underground except in Hong Kong"
Mr Li - who has lived in New York for two years - said other countries should "get involved to stop the Chinese government's brutal actions".

In an interview with the British Daily Telegraph newspaper, Mr Li said he believed that the Chinese government was hoping to extradite him, "but still I haven't received a reassurance from the US".

"The way they crack down on Falun Gong is the way they behaved in the Cultural Revolution. They forced people to do certain things. But they cannot change the will and heart of the people," Mr Li said in the interview.

[ image: The search for Fulan Gong literature goes on]
The search for Fulan Gong literature goes on
"If they cracked down on Falun Gong, the people would lose trust in the state and the leadership."

The ruling Communist Party has admitted that the sect has created "serious problems" within the party - with some members becoming leaders of the cult.

The People's Daily - which is run by the party's Central Committee - called for an urgent tightening of discipline within the party's ranks.

Sect penetration

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

[ image:  ]
The People's Daily blamed this on "slack organisation" in 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 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.

[ image: Li Hongzhi: 'I haven't received reassurances from the US']
Li Hongzhi: 'I haven't received reassurances from the US'
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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