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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Falun Gong's turn

C Raja Mohan
Indian Express: Posted online: Wednesday, March 19, 2008 at 0157 hrs

Excerpt: China has little reason to breathe easy at the fact that no government has called for the boycott of Beijing Olympics amidst its crackdown on the Tibetan revolt — yet. Although the Dalai Lama has said that China should not be denied the opportunity to host the Olympics, there is no doubt that the Games have become a political millstone around Beijing’s neck.

Beijing’s decision to invest so much political capital in the Games has provided a rare incentive for various dissident groups in China to make their case before the world opinion in the run-up to the Olympics. China has no option but to crack down on these dissidents. Every such action will also take some shine off the coming out party Beijing had planned for itself this summer.

The Tibetan challenge is not necessarily the worst nightmare for Beijing this summer. Potential spectacular actions by the religious cult, Falun Gong, during the Beijing Games would be even more troublesome.

Probably the most organised and richest of the Chinese dissident groups, the Falun Gong has shown extraordinary capacity to surprise Beijing. Conscious of the threat, China has apparently begun a sweeping pre-emptive crackdown against the cult. Besides a number of arrests, it has offered cash rewards to citizens who can turn in Falun Gong followers. Whichever way one looks at the Tibetan revolt, Beijing’s awful political summer might only have just begun. ....

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