A LENGTHY report by the People's Daily and Xinhua News Agency on Thursday reviewed the entire story of the illegal gathering at Zhongnanhai by practitioners on April 25, and unveiled Li Hongzhi's behind-the-scenes scheme.
On April 25, 1999, more than 10,000 people systematically gathered around Zhongnanhai, headquarters of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the State Council.
This large-scale illegal gathering seriously disturbed the normal work of the top organizations of the Party and the State, disrupted social order in the capital Beijing, and was the most serious political incident since the 1989 political turmoil, and had an extremely bad impact at home and abroad.
The whole truth now has come out: the chief figure who directly plotted and controlled the incident was Li Hongzhi, the ringleader of the cult.
Li, who frequently gave media interviews abroad, however, lied at the beginning when he said he knew nothing about the April 25 illegal gathering, since he was en route from the United States to Australia at that time.
Faced with evidence of his stay in Beijing, Li had to correct himself, saying that he was in Beijing changing flights and did not leave the airport. When more evidence came out, Li again corrected himself and said he had been in Beijing for one day, but had "contacted nobody."
Li Hongzhi's lies have been laid bare by the facts, one after another. His crimes and schemes hidden behind these lies are now exposed to the public.
Li arrived in Beijing on April 22 from New York aboard US Northwest Airlines Flight NW087, and identified himself as a business person on his entry registration card. As a matter of fact, Li engaged in no commercial activities in Beijing up to the time he left for Hong Kong on Air China Flight CA109 on April 24. He actually stayed in Beijing for 44 hours, not one day as he claimed.
Li's return to Beijing was well planned. He notified Ji Liewu, a key member of the Research Society of Falun Dafa, in advance. As soon as Li returned to his Beijing residence in Chongwen District, Ji came to report the circumstances about practitioners besieging Tianjin Normal University.
Li's eagerness to learn about the siege shows, that from the very beginning, he wanted to plot an even larger incident out of the Tianjin gathering.
A magazine sponsored by Tianjin Normal University published an article on Qigong written by He Zuoxiu, an academic at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), in early April.
He expounded his ideas on Qigong, questioning a piece of Falun Gong propaganda which claimed that after practising Falun Gong, an engineer was able to go into a working steel-smelting furnace and see with his own eyes the chemical changes occurring at the atomic and molecular level.
He also told what happened to a student with whom he was working at the CAS Institute of Theoretical Physics, to expose Falun Gong's evils.
The student had to be sent to a mental facility twice after refusing to eat, drink, or sleep, or speak to anyone after practising Falun Gong.
Leaders of Falun Gong including Li Hongzhi saw the limited circulation of the magazine in which He's article was published as an opportunity to make trouble.
On April 19, a massive number of Falun Gong practitioners burst into Tianjin Normal University, staging a sit-in demonstration, and completely disrupting the normal teaching and living activities at the university.
In May 1998, Beijing Television Station was besieged for several days by more than 1,000 Falun Gong practitioners because the station broadcast a programme unfavourable to Falun Gong.
Li Hongzhi, however, was not content with the turmoil he stirred up, and considered his actions up to then to be not influential enough. He even dismissed a leader of the Beijing branch, a branch of the Research Society of Falun Dafa, for not obeying his orders.
Li Hongzhi decided to make use of the event at Tianjin Normal University to cause a big storm. The Research Society of Falun Dafa, manipulated by Li Hongzhi, then enlarged the entire scenario, as Li expected.
On April 21, one day before Li Hongzhi sneaked into Beijing from the United States, Wang Zhiwen, deputy head of the society, incited the Tianjin branch to lodge a protest at Tianjin Normal University.
On April 22, when Li Hongzhi arrived in Beijing, over 2,000 practitioners took part in the gathering. Wang Zhiwen was satisfied with the situation and notified leaders of the Tianjin branch that practitioners could gather during the day and disperse at night.
On April 23, the second day Li spent in Beijing, practitioners at Tianjin Normal University proliferated to more than 6,000 from the original 2,000.
When the Tianjin branch prepared to ask the practitioners to leave on learning that the gathering would be stopped by the authorities, Wang Zhiwen, however, said the practitioners should not be afraid and should take it as a test. Another 2,000 to 3,000 people then gathered in front of the Tianjin Municipal People's Government.
The situation in Tianjin was getting worse as Li arrived in Beijing. But what Li deliberately planned was to cause social unrest on a larger scale, and Beijing became his next target.
On the morning of April 23, at his Beijing residence, Li Hongzhi called together several core members, including Li Chang and Ji Liewu, and agreed with them that the followers should "go to the central government, go to the State Council." He also asked to have more people drawn to Beijing. "The more, the better," he said, stressing that "this will be the last chance."
At this secret meeting, Li worked out a strategy for the massing around Zhongnanhai. The gathering could not be accomplished in the name of the Research Society of Falun Dafa and its branches, and ordinary practitioners should be pushed to the front line.
The April 25 illegal gathering was thus designed by Li Hongzhi and arranged and carried out by his key followers step by step.
On the afternoon of the same day, Li Chang, Ji Liewu and Ye Hao, another key member of Falun Gong organizations who now lives in Canada, held the first meeting to plot the April 25 illegal gathering in detail.
Li Chang related Li Hongzhi's decision on the Zhongnanhai massing. He asked Ji and Ye to inform all practitioners to get together outside Zhongnanhai early on the morning of April 25, to "not only solve the Tianjin problem, but also safeguard Falun Gong."
They also decided to tell leaders of the Beijing branch what to do at a routine meeting on April 24.
Before the meeting was over, Ji Liewu rushed to report the implementation plan to Li Hongzhi, who expressed his satisfaction with this preparatory meeting.
On the evening of April 23, practitioners in Tianjin abandoned their illegal besieging of Tianjin Normal University at the persuasion of local police. No one was detained and the retreat was peaceful.
When the news reached Beijing, Li Chang, Wang Zhiwen and some key members of the society held a meeting in Beijing at 10: 00 pm, in which they spread rumours that police in Tianjin had arrested some local Falun Gong leaders and practitioners, and that some were killed and others missing. Those rumours were intended to mobilize a large-scale illegal gathering near the Zhongnanhai compound.
At the meeting, they also decided to put forward three demands to the central government during the planned besieging of Zhongnanhai: first, those detained in Tianjin by the police be freed immediately; a more favourable and friendly environment be provided for the practice of Falun Gong; and Falun Gong publications be allowed.
Li Hongzhi repeatedly said he is "uninterested in political activities" and that "Falun Gong is not engaged in any form of politics." In fact, he had been actively and secretly planning to expand the illegal organization and penetrate its influence into every corner of society.
Their three demands to the central government were signs they were trying to legalize their illegal organization and activities, so as to challenge and rival the Party and the government.
In order to conceal the Falun Dafa Research Society as the organizer of the illegal gathering, (as Li Hongzhi had ordered), the key figures of the Society decided they would stay away from the gathering site for fear of being recognized by practitioners.
After these careful plots and arrangements, the key figures of the society said Li Hongzhi should not stay in Beijing during this time of action, but "must get out of here right away."
On the morning of April 24, Li purchased a ticket for Air China Flight CA111 at the airport to fly to Hong Kong. But because of the flight's delay, he changed to Flight CA109 for Hong Kong, and departed at 1:30 pm.
Li Hongzhi came to China in the capacity of a businessman, but devoted his 44-hour stay here totally to the planning and conspiring of the illegal gathering near Zhongnanhai. His claim to journalists in Sydney that he stayed in Beijing just for one day and never contacted anybody was a lie.
After Li Hongzhi fled out of Beijing, his key followers, including Li Chang and Wang Zhiwen, were left with the responsibility of implementing all his plans.
At 8:30 am on April 24, a "regular meeting for studying Falun Dafa" was held by the leaders of the Beijing general branch of the society and sub-branches in counties and districts in Beijing at the address 7 Cangjingguan Lane, in eastern Beijing.
Li and Wang said at the meeting that the date for the illegal gathering near Zhongnanhai compound would be April 25. The leaders of sub-branches were assigned the tasks of security, transportation, order and sanitary matters at the gathering site.
They set the strategy for the illegal gathering as "no slogans, no banners, no flyers, no fierce verbal attacks and no revelation of the organizer _ the Falun Dafa Research Society."
Deputy-director of the general branch in Beijing Liu Zhichun was told to inform all the sub-branches in Beijing, while Wang Zhiwen was responsible for the areas outside Beijing.
An announcement created by Li Hongzhi himself was also made during the meeting to coax practitioners out onto the streets. It was: everyone should stand up to fulfil their dues for the protection of Falun Dafa, and their actions should be individually voluntary.
It is evident Li was taking advantage of his capacity as "tutor" and "master" to realize his own political ambitions, and at the same time attempting to prevent his organization's illegal nature from being exposed.
On the afternoon of April 24, the Falun Dafa Research Society and its Beijing General Branch convened another meeting of key figures to further mobilize practitioners for the next day's move.
They set up "command headquarters" and a liaison centre, designated two persons responsible for communications between the gathering site and the headquarters, and another responsible for propaganda to be published on the Internet.
Li Chang further stressed that leaders above the level of general branches must refrain from appearing at the gathering site to avoid being recognized by practitioners.
Afterwards, Wang Zhiwen made numerous calls to local leaders in the provinces of Hebei, Shandong, Liaoning and the city of Tianjin, asking them to organize followers to go to the Zhongnanhai compound on the morning of April 25 to "protect Falun Dafa."
Now, "all the preparations for the April 25 action were ready," as Li Chang admitted later.
Later, everything went on just as planned by Li Hongzhi.
_ The first group of practitioners arrived at the northern gate of the Zhongnanhai compound as early as 9:40 pm on April 24;
_ In the small hours of April 25, at 3:07 am, passenger buses from nearby Hebei Province also arrived, and people began to disembark. At 3:30 am, another group of practitioners gathered at the moat near Zhongnanhai;
_ At 5:13 am, a large group of practitioners appeared at the gate of Beihai Park and walked westward; and at 5:34 am, many practitioners started to appear from lanes;
_ And by 7:00 am, a large-scale sit-in had been formed at the western gate of Zhongnanhai.
The size of the sit-in kept growing, and exceeded 10,000 by later that morning.
At 8:00 am, Xinhua reporters arrived at the site where the streets were full of practitioners, most being the elderly, women and farmers from the countryside.
When questioned, a woman farmer from Beijing's outskirts said they were practising Falun Gong, but refused to answer why they were doing it near Zhongnanhai.
The practitioners kept coming in the afternoon, and pedestrian traffic on the street in front of the western gate of Zhongnanhai was totally blocked, and transportation on Chang'an Avenue also was seriously affected.
According to previous arrangements, Li Chang, Wang Zhiwen, Ji Liewu and some 20 other key figures gathered at the "command headquarters" at Yao Jie's home. At 9:00 am, the "headquarters" received reports from the sit-in site that four representatives were sent to talk with the central government, but failed to give clear reasons for the gathering.
Members at the sit-in site requested capable people from the Falun Dafa research society or its Beijing general branch to come out for the "dialogue."
Finally, Li Chang and Wang Zhiwen decided to come out of the closet, and headed a five-member "delegation" to the Zhongnanhai compound for "dialogue."
Li Hongzhi, then in Hong Kong, was by no means inactive. He was in close touch with the Beijing "headquarters," hearing reports and issuing orders. Evidence shows that over 20 calls were made between Li and the "headquarters" on April 25, and that all the actions in Beijing were taken after being directed by Li Hongzhi.
When Ji Liewu informed Li Hong zhi that about 10,000 people had already gathered at the sit-in site, Li asked, "Are there many practitioners from outside Beijing?"
When he was told that the first two groups of "negotiators" were sent to Zhongnanhai, Li said, "All right."
Li also asked Ji, "Why don't you go to Zhongnanhai now that they (the government) want to talk with you?"
The Beijing Municipal Government issued a decree demanding that the demonstrators leave. Li Hongzhi told Ji that they should still wait until the "negotiators" came out. The five "negotiators" headed by Li Chang pestered the Letters and Calls Bureau of the State Council for nearly nine hours.
When the "negotiators" all came out, Li asked how it was going. Ji answered that the talks would continue the next day. Then, Li said the practitioners besieging Zhongnanhai may leave.
At around 6:00 am on April 26, when Li came to know his " negotiators" were not talking with leaders of the central government, he called Ji Liewu to furiously blame Li Chang for calling off the sit-in before talking to top officials.
With pieces of evidence coming together, it is now known that the April 25 illegal gathering at Zhongnanhai was a premeditated and well-organized political incident aimed at exerting pressure on the Party and the government and unsettling the country.
Evidence shows that Li Hongzhi was the behind-the-scenes chief organizer of all illegal activities, from the attacks on the Beijing TV Station, the escalation of the sit-in demonstration in Tianjin and to the April 25 illegal gathering in Beijing.
However, the man who claims to possess supernatural powers has overestimated his own power. He is no more than a flea trying vainly to topple an elephant, and he will be tried by history.
(Xinhua, August 14, 1999)