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Sunday, August 1, 1999 Published at 07:08 GMT 08:08 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Beijing 'hacked sect Website'

Beijing accuses the sect of spreading superstition

Chinese authorities appear to have hacked into a US Website devoted to the outlawed Falun Gong sect as it cracks down on followers, according to reports.

The Associated Press news agency says it has traced the case of apparent tampering back to the Public Security Ministry's Internet Monitoring Bureau in Beijing.

Nearly all Falun Gong Websites in China have been shut down since the authorities announced a ban on publications about the sect.

[ image: China has issued an arrest warrant for Falun Gong leader Li Hongzhi]
China has issued an arrest warrant for Falun Gong leader Li Hongzhi
But the Associated Press says Beijing is now extending the crackdown to US Websites and elsewhere.

Falun Gong practitioner Bob McWee of Maryland said his site,, had been under electronic assault - a tactic to overwhelm the computer with repeated requests and block other users.

He also said someone tried to gain access to the server, pretending to be a legitimate webmaster, and in the process left an Internet address which AP traced to Beijing.

In Britain, Li Shao, of Nottingham, said his Falun Gong site was hacked into last week. He said ''Chinese Government propaganda" was placed on some pages, while others were deleted.

China banned the meditation group last week, accusing it of trying to develop political power.

But leaders of Falun Gong, which combines meditation and exercise, deny any political ambitions.

PLA slams sect

China unleashed a fresh torrent of invective against the sect on Sunday as it marked Army Day.

The People's Liberation Army newspaper cited the Communist Party's battle to stamp out the sect as one of its key challenges.

"The disorder sown by the Falun Gong organisation demonstrates that in the struggle in the realm of thought we can't merely wish for victory," the newspaper said.

Books seized

[ image: Hong Kong practitioners protest in the streets]
Hong Kong practitioners protest in the streets
In Hong Kong, which has not banned Falun Gong, two of the territory's largest bookstores have stopped selling books on the meditation group, a sect spokesman said.

He did not know why the books were no longer being sold and the companies could not be contacted for comment.

Falun Gong followers in the territory plan to demonstrate outside the Hong Kong offices of China's Xinhua news agency on Sunday to protest against the crackdown.

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