- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 26, 2002

BEIJING China demanded yesterday that the Republic of China (Taiwan) stop Falun Gong supporters who Beijing says used a transmitter on the island to hack into China's top television satellite system and beam their material to millions of mainland viewers.
Taiwan said it was hunting for the source of the transmission but expressed doubts that it came from its soil. Taiwanese telecommunications official Lin Ching-chich said yesterday that the Chinese accusation was "a bit far-fetched."
Beijing said it would hand over technical data showing that a television signal was sent Sept. 8 from Taiwan's capital, Taipei, overriding the signal from Sino Satellite, or Sinosat, which broadcasts state-run China Central Television and other stations to mainland viewers.
"The most important thing now is that the Taiwan side and our colleagues there take immediate action to stop the interference," Liu Lihua, director of China's radio regulation bureau and the Ministry of Information Industry, said at a news conference.
In the hacking, broadcasts promoting Falun Gong flashed for some moments on five Chinese TV channels, mainland radio officials said, and service interruptions continued for more than an hour.
The "TV hijacking," as China on Tuesday branded the transmission, would be the most sweeping effort in a 6-month-old campaign by Falun Gong sympathizers who repeatedly have broken into local television systems to show videos protesting Beijing's 3-year-old crackdown on the spiritual movement.
Though Taiwan functions as an independent country, Beijing claims the island as part of its territory and has no direct contact with its government.
Mr. Lin said China has argued that the source of the hacking was on Yangming Mountain, outside Taipei, where several television and telecommunications companies have installed satellite dishes and other equipment.
"This happened several days ago, and it's difficult to locate the source," said Mr. Lin, director of the radio spectrum management department at the Directorate General of Telecommunications.
Pirate broadcasting on radio and television was common in Taiwan until the mid-1990s, when the government relaxed regulations, opened new frequencies and handed out more broadcasting licenses.
But Taiwan traditionally hasn't been a base for religious, political and rights groups pushing for change in China. Most have operated out of Hong Kong on China's southeastern border.
Falun Gong, which was founded by a former Chinese government employee, is legal and practiced openly in Taiwan and other countries.
Meanwhile, the Chinese government denied accusations that it tried to break into the Dalai Lama's computer network.
A Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said she had no details on the accusation by the computer manager for the Tibet Buddhist leader's government in exile in India, but added that "the Chinese government always opposes the activities of hackers."
Jigme Tsering, manager of the Tibetan Computer Resource Center in Dharamsala, India, asserted Tuesday that Chinese hackers had designed a virus to plug into the network and steal information.
He said activist groups around the world lobbying on behalf of Tibetans also were targeted by the virus, which was attached to an e-mail designed to look as if it came from his office.

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