BEIJING: China warned the US on Thursday against associating with the Falun Gong after Washington said it may fund a group linked to the spiritual sect, which is banned by Beijing.
The comments came as the two sides prepared to meet in Washington for a human rights dialogue after a twoyear hiatus. “We firmly oppose any government or organisation providing support to anti- China forces in their anti-China activities,” foreign ministry spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu told reporters. Ma’s comments came after a State Department spokesperson confirmed the US government was in talks on funding an Internet freedom group composed mainly of Falun Gong practitioners exiled from China.
The Global Internet Freedom Consortium offers software to circumvent Internet censorship worldwide. “The process is ongoing. They have submitted a proposal but... no final decisions have been made,” State Department spokesperson Philip Crowley said on Wednesday of the possible funding plan. Falun Gong, whose Buddhistinspired teachings focus on meditative, martial arts-like exercises, was banned by China in 1999. Beijing has branded it an “evil cult”, and the group alleges its practitioners are treated brutally in China or even killed.
Ma said he hoped the two-day human rights dialogue could lead to better relations but also indicated Washington must respect China’s position. “I believe dialogue is better than confrontation and China would like to work on the basis of equality and mutual respect to conduct dialogue and communication with the US in the field of human rights,” he said. The dialogue comes amid what some activists and human rights lawyers say is a worsening climate for them, with several prominent individuals jailed or alleging government harassment.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 14th, 2010
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