ad info

TIME Asia Home
Current Issue
Magazine Archive
Asia Buzz
Travel Watch
Web Features
  Photo Essays

Subscribe to TIME
Customer Services
About Us
Write to TIME Asia
TIME Canada
TIME Europe
TIME Pacific
TIME Digital
Latest CNN News

Young China
Olympics 2000
On The Road

  east asia
  southeast asia
  south asia
  central asia

Other News
From TIME Asia

Culture on Demand: Black is Beautiful
The American Express black card is the ultimate status symbol

Asia Buzz: Should the Net Be Free?
Web heads want it all -- for nothing

JAPAN: Failed Revolution
Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori clings to power as dissidents in his party finally decide not to back a no-confidence motion

Cover: Endgame?
After Florida's controversial ballot recount, Bush holds a 537-vote lead in the state, which could give him the election

TIME Digest

TIME Asia Services
Subscribe to TIME! Get up to 3 MONTHS FREE!

Bookmark TIME
TIME Media Kit
Recent awards

TIME Asia Asiaweek Asia Now TIME Asia story

AUGUST 2, 1999 VOL. 154 NO. 4

Interview: Li Hongzhi
"I am just a very ordinary man"

As Chinese authorities were arresting his followers on the mainland, the founder of Falun Gong, Li Hongzhi, spoke by phone from New York City with TIME reporter Isabella Ng. Excerpts from the interview:

Visions of China
CNN, TIME, Asiaweek and Fortune examine China at 50

TIME: How do you feel about the crackdown?
Li: This is unfair. The Chinese government has no understanding of Falun Gong, the practice of qigong or the masses. They should not impose such a ban on Falun Gong.

China: Quiet Storm
The crackdown against followers of Falun Gong could turn the group into Beijing's most feared organization

TIME: Why do you think the Beijing government is doing this?
Li: Probably they think there are too many people practicing Falun Gong, or that some Communist Party members are practicing as well.

TIME: Are they afraid people will listen to you instead of the Communist Party?
Li: I don't see anything wrong with that. I don't know why the government is so against it. I only know that I am working for the country and the people. And I think Falun Gong is good for the community. Isn't it nice if everyone can be virtuous and healthy?

TIME: Do you have relatives in China? Are they in trouble?
Li: My mother, my sister and her kids are in China. They are watched by the authorities. But I don't know if they have been interrogated by the police.

TIME: Do you believe that someone may have tried to use Falun Gong to engage in illegal activities?
Li: A true Falun Gong member will not do anything illegal. Most of them are people of good nature. As Chinese say, "They don't hit back when you hit them, and they won't answer back when you scream at them." They will always look into themselves first when a conflict occurs. A true member of Falun Gong will never in his life be a criminal.

TIME: Do you think that you should be held responsible for what is happening now in China?
Li: I taught Falun Gong in China for only three years. I have not been in direct contact with the members for almost four years. They practice on their own. I have never forced them. People passed my book around, and the practice got known through word of mouth.

TIME: But Falun Gong members seem to be well-connected and always seem to be in touch with each other.
Li: They just call each other and ask if they will practice. It's not very organized.

TIME: If you were given a chance to talk to China's leaders, what would you say to them?
Li: I would sincerely tell them, "If I have done anything wrong, I will change. If there is anything wrong with Falun Gong, it can be changed. Don't hit Falun Gong. It's no good for the community, and no good for the government."

TIME: The government has accused you of changing your date of birth to when Sakyamuni [Siddhartha Gautama] was born.
Li: During the Cultural Revolution, the government misprinted my birthdate. I just corrected it. During the Cultural Revolution, there were lots of misprints on identity. A man could become a woman, and a woman could become a man. It's natural that when people want to smear you, they will dig out whatever they can to destroy you. What's the big deal about having the same birthday as Sakyamuni? Many criminals were also born on that date. I have never said that I am Sakyamuni. I am just a very ordinary man.

This edition's table of contents



U.S. secretary of state says China should be 'tolerant'

Philippine government denies Estrada's claim to presidency

Faith, madness, magic mix at sacred Hindu festival

Land mine explosion kills 11 Sri Lankan soldiers

Japan claims StarLink found in U.S. corn sample

Thai party announces first coalition partner


COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state


COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness

Launch CNN's Desktop Ticker and get the latest news, delivered right on your desktop!

Today on CNN

Back to the top   © 2000 Time Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.