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Week of July 12, 2002

Week of July 12, 2002

The U.S. and China This Week

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DOMESTIC: Falungong Continue uses Satellites to Spread Message

The banned Falungong group has been charged by Chinese officials for hijacking state-run satellites belonging to Sino-Satellite Communications and disrupting programming between June 23-30. On Monday, China vowed to punish the outlawed Falungong and a senior official was quoted in Xinhua as saying the act was an "overt challenge to modern civilized society" and a "flagrant subversion of social order."

Millions of viewers missed part of the World Cup finals, the fifth anniversary of Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule, and news of devastating floods due to broadcasting disruptions, officials said. TV engineers at the 19 affected state-run networks were unsure as to how the group could technically pull off the stunt. However, deputy chief engineer of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, Du Baichuan, said that people could buy the equipment necessary for interfering with a satellite from local shops and learn how to analyze satellite signals.

Falungong, banned in 1999, have not claimed responsibility for the hijacking of the satellite broadcasts, though followers did begin to hack into local cable TV networks earlier this year and showed videos of people meditating in attempt to disclaim the governments description of the group as an "evil cult."

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DOMESTIC: 133 Mainland Fishermen Rescued in Taiwan Waters

During a dramatic rescue mission, two Taiwan helicopters from the navy and two others from the police authorities braved gusty winds and rough seas to save 133 mainland fisherman whose boat caught on fire. The cause of the fire is believed to be caused by a short circuit in the vessel's engine room, according to a preliminary probe. The flames apparently moved quickly throughout the boat, Yuansheng 2, forcing all the fishermen to the bow and wait to be rescued. Several crew members jumped in the sea in hopes of reaching the frogmen patrol boats, which had difficulty getting near the vessel due to terrible weather conditions brought on by Tropical Storm Nakri. Cable Television TVBS reported that one fisherman is missing after he jumped into the rough water, while nine others were rushed to the nearby Hsiaokang Hospital. Mainland Chinese fishermen are not allowed to come ashore in Taiwan, but they are allowed to enter Taiwanese harbors in case of a storm or an emergency.

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