July 25, 2001

VALLETTA, Malta (AP)--Chinese President Jiang Zemin left Malta on Wednesday after a three-day visit - but not before a Chinese-American woman pressed him to stop the crackdown on the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement.

Wang Wenyi managed to speak face-to-face with Jiang when the Chinese leader made an unscheduled tour of the old city of Mdina on Wednesday. Wang said she introduced herself and urged Jiang "to stop the killing of Falun Gong practitioners in China."

Security officials whisked Wang away, but Jiang called her back and spoke to her in Chinese, witnesses said. "He was very agitated and told me that Falun Gong practitioners were killing themselves," Wang said later.

Falun Gong attracted millions of followers in the 1990s with a blend of slow-motion exercises and ideas [...]. Followers say practice promotes health, moral living and even supernatural powers.

Thousands of followers are in jails and labor camps in China and tens of thousands have been arrested and pressured to renounce the group in a government crackdown. Falun Gong says many followers have been tortured and that 250 have been killed.

Wang said she leads a study group on the movement in San Diego, Calif.