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Falun Gong Head Not Banned From UK

August 18, 1999

LONDON (AP) _ Britain has rejected a request from China to ban the leader of the Falun Gong spiritual movement from entering the United Kingdom, the Foreign Office said Tuesday.

The Foreign Office confirmed that there was a meeting with Chinese diplomats here on Aug. 4 in which the Chinese expressed their opposition to a visit by Li Hongzhi, the Falun Gong leader.

China banned the meditation group June 22 as a threat to political order. The government at one point estimated it had 70 million members.

``We have taken the view that as Falun Gong is not an illegal organization in the UK, and also in view of Interpol declining to treat Li as an international criminal, there is no case for action on our part,″ said the Foreign Office spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Earlier Tuesday, Chinese Ambassador Ma Zhengang told reporters he hoped Britain would exclude Li, who reportedly hoped to attend a Falun Gong convention here.

``He is not an ordinary citizen. He is wanted by the Chinese security department,″ Ma said.

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