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Unlikely allies against Hong Kong subversion bill

The BBC has reported that the Catholic Church and the spiritual group Falun Gong are joining forces in Hong Kong to fight new anti-treason laws.

The recently-appointed Catholic Bishop for Hong Kong, Joseph Zen, has said the regulations currently being drawn up threaten Falun Gong's freedom to practice in the territory.

Bishop Zen's outspoken stance has brought him into conflict with the governments in Hong Kong and China, and has made him one of the most high-profile defenders of Hong Kong's freedoms.

70 year old Bishop Zen was only appointed a few months ago following the death of Cardinal John Baptist Wu, but he has already had a profound impact on the territory. He has already challenged Hong Kong's chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa, head on.

The Falun Gong movement has been outlawed in China for several years. If Hong Kong's new legislation is enacted, all China would have to do is designate the group an official security threat and its existence in the territory would be threatened, the Falun Gong has said.

"The label that the Chinese Government has slapped on Falun Gong has changed three or four times from not registered, to illegal organisation, to reactionary group, to an inter-China political force, to evil cult," said Sharon Shu, a Falun Gong spokeswoman.

Marginalised already in Hong Kong, Falun Gong is grateful for any support it gets. But Bishop Zen is also concerned about the future of the Catholic Church.

The Vatican has relations with Taiwan, not Beijing. It also has links with an estimated 10 million members of the underground Catholic Church inside China. That might be grounds enough for it to be banned too.

"If tomorrow they say the underground church in China is dangerous for the state and then they say you are the same Catholic Church, and then we are in trouble," said Bishop Zen.



HK's 'Vatican agent' irks Beijing (CNN 29/10/02)
New Hong Kong church leader warns on anti-subversion law (8/10/02)
HK bishop accused of provoking unrest (Straits Times)
Cardinal Sepe offers goodwill toward China at Cardinal Wu's funeral (3/10/02)
New Hong Kong Catholic leader 'thorn in authorities' side' (25/9/02)

5 Dec 2002