- The Washington Times - Friday, February 21, 2003

Californian software engineer Yeong-ching Foo had hoped her fiance, Charles Li, would bring the happy news of their engagement to his family when he traveled to China on Jan. 22. Instead, she learned that Mr. Li had been detained at the Guangzhou airport and accused of sabotage, which could lead to a 15-year prison sentence.
"When I heard that news, my heart broke. I couldn't stop crying," Miss Foo said at a press conference in Washington last week. Now she is seeking support from international organizations, State Department officials and members of Congress to rescue her fiance from a communist jail.
Mr. Li, 37, born and reared in China, is a U.S. citizen and a resident of Menlo Park, Calif.
He was detained on arrival in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, where he had planned to celebrate the Chinese New Year with his parents. Chinese authorities charged Mr. Li with sabotaging TV and radio equipment during a visit in October.
Neither a State Department spokesman nor the Chinese Embassy in Washington was able to explain in more detail what Mr. Li was accused of doing.
However, eight Falun Gong activists were sentenced to up to 13 years in prison in December for briefly taking over local television and radio stations in eastern China's Anhui province on May 31, Xinhua news agency reported.
Mr. Li's friends said he was in California when the broadcast disruption took place and that he was not involved.
The Chinese Embassy confirmed that Mr. Li was detained on Jan. 24 and was suspected of a criminal offense. "During his detention, he has received humanitarian treatment and is now in good health," said spokesman Xie Feng.
During a meeting with a U.S. Consulate official in the detention center where he was being held, Mr. Li denied all charges. He said he believes Chinese officials are prosecuting him because he practices Falun Gong, Miss Foo said.
Mr. Xie denies that the Chinese government punishes people for their beliefs. "Falun Gong practitioners will be held responsible only when they violate the Chinese law," he said.
Falun Gong is a practice of meditation and exercises combined with Buddhist and Taoist beliefs, established in China at the beginning of the 1990s and banned by President Jiang Zemin as an "evil cult" in 1999.
The Falun Gong Data Information Center in the United States claims that 100 million people in China practice Falun Gong. Since the ban of Falun Gong, hundreds of thousands have been detained and sentenced to labor camps, Falun Gong activists say.
Nancy Chen, an Australian citizen and Falun Gong practitioner, was detained in Chengdu, China, on the same day as Mr. Li. She said she was held in custody for 10 days before she was released as a result of efforts by the Australian Embassy in Beijing.
Mrs. Chen said in Washington last week that she had been interrogated about the activities of Falun Gong in the United States and then was taken to Sichuan Zhizong Nanmushi women's prison, where about 500 Falun Gong practitioners were kept in poor conditions.
"Falun Gong practitioners are detained in separate buildings, much like Nazi concentration camps in the World War II," Mrs. Chen said.


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