SACRAMENTO (AP) — A California senator says Democratic legislative leaders are squashing his attempt to stand up for practitioners of a banned Chinese spiritual movement under pressure from the government of China.

The Senate last week shelved a symbolic resolution condemning persecution of Falun Gong practitioners after lawmakers received a letter from the Chinese consulate warning the measure would be detrimental to relations between California and China.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, combines elements of Buddhism, Taoism and the ideas of its founder with meditation and exercises to improve physical and mental health. China regards it as a dangerous cult and a threat to social stability and outlawed the practice in 1999.

Sen. Joel Anderson, a Republican from Alpine outside San Diego, tried repeatedly this week to attach his resolution to unrelated symbolic measures offered by Democrats, including one to show solidarity with the persecuted LGBT community in Chechnya. Anderson was a featured speaker at a protest Friday at the Chinese consulate in San Francisco.

“I don’t care if Democrats vote no,” Anderson said. “But they don’t have a right to stop the minority to be heard and they certainly don’t have a right to pick and choose the genocides that they oppose.”

Jonathan Underland, a spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, declined to comment.

Lawmakers have one week left before they adjourn for the rest of the year. Anderson vowed to continue his fight next year, including his attempts to attach his resolution to those offered by Democrats.

Falun Gong supporters allege that practitioners in China have been executed and their organs involuntarily harvested for transplants — a charge the Chinese government vehemently denies.

In their letter to lawmakers, Chinese officials condemned the movement and urged lawmakers not to adopt Anderson’s resolution.

“This may deeply damage the cooperative relations between the State of California and China and seriously hurt the feeling of Chinese people and the vast Chinese community in California,” said the letter, dated Sept. 1 and signed without a name by the consulate general in San Francisco.

China and California have deep ties through trade and tourism, and their governments are cooperating on efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Gov. Jerry Brown met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping during a trip to China earlier this year.

Anderson said he’s so passionately taken on the fight over a purely symbolic resolution because of his longstanding interest in promoting human rights. He said he wrote a letter to the Chinese ambassador in 2008 on behalf a constituent whose mother was detained in China for practicing Falun Gong.

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Comments (6)
  1. Unbelievable cowardice. All legislators need to stand up and support this peaceful group. They should stand and tell China they are negatively affecting their relationship with California by continuing to persecute anyone practicing Falun Gong. Stand up for democratic principles. It’s a true shame you need a Republican legislator to hold you accountable!

  2. One thing to clarify; the Chinese government does not regard Falun Gong as a dangerous cult, they portray Falun Gong in that manner. The “cult” label is is used to incite and justify persecution, but the reason for the persecution lies elsewhere. The label is part of their propaganda campaign to dehumanize Falun Gong, and actually lends credence to the organ harvesting allegation.

    And yes, the Chinese government does deny the allegation of organ harvesting from Falun Gong, but refuses to enter into a discussion on the issue in the face of a substantial body of evidence, and does not conduct organ transplantation in an transparent manner. See “DAFOH”.

  3. The fact that the Chinese communist party puts so much importance on this issue says volumes. This is effectively a threat and meddling in U.S. gov’t affairs, which is absolutely vile. The communist party (a real cult) put that label on Falun Gong precisely because FG became so popular and they couldn’t control it.
    Read the bill (SJR-10)- it spells out the truth of the matter very well.

  4. Joe Szimhart says:

    As early as 1999 I had received complaints about Falun Dafa as a manipulative organization and by 2000 had spoken to 2 FD members who were brought to me to have an open discussion about the leader and his bizarre ideas. The open interventions failed to dissuade the members, both young Chinese women with limited English speaking skills in America. Their fiancées, one Chinese and another white American, were concerned about the weird beliefs and cult-like behaviors that placed severe tensions on their relationships because the men were not devotees of Li Hongzhi, the founder living in exile in the USA. The women remained loyal to Hongzhi. The relationships failed. I have listened to respected Chinese scholars try to vilify Falun Dafa as an “evil cult” several at international conferences on cults. The critiques were not as sophisticated as critiques of harmful cults in US or European theaters, and I am not sure what to make of this propaganda war between Falun Dafa and Chinese Communist officials. What I do know as a recognized cult specialist for the past quarter of a century is that I would dissuade anyone from believing the bizarre and superstitious teachings of Li Hongzhi.

  5. The Chinese Communist Party is an evil cult that resulted in the deaths of over 50 million people during the Cultural Revolution. California and US government put too much stock in the so-called hurt feelings of these murderers and that should stop that. When we allow governments to brutalize and marginalize their own people it sends a signal to our own government that it is okay to follow suit. Human Rights before Trade!

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