2001-7-27-facing_jiang.jpg (76774 bytes)"I introduced myself and asked Mr Jiang to stop the killing of Falun Gong practitioners in China. He was very agitated [...]" - Ms Wang Wenwi.

Chinese President Jiang Zemin was taken aback yesterday during a visit to Mdina when a Chinese-American woman slipped past the phalanx of security men and asked him - standing just a few centimetres from him - about the suppression of Falun Gong followers in China.

Security guards immediately whisked her away from the President who, against all expectations but showing a presence of mind, asked her to be allowed back. He then answered her in an agitated voice and with much gesticulation.

The answer was in Chinese but the words Falun Gong could be made out clearly.

Falun Gong followers have been to Malta during President Jiang's visit, putting up peaceful protests against China's treatment of followers.

The incident at Mdina happened in a split second when the President departed from his official programme after a visit to the Cathedral Museum, going on a short walkabout to take a bird's eye view of Malta from Mdina bastions.

Coming down the steps leading from the bastion close to Fontanella Cafeteria, Ms Wang Wenwi managed to sidle up close enough to Mr Jiang to fire her question directly at him.

Police sources said it was Mr Jiang himself who wanted to go for a short walk, perhaps feeling secure and relaxed after experiencing the laid back tempo of life in Malta.

"The street along which the President walked was not lined with police officers because it did not form part of the program.

"The woman who approached the President did not constitute a breach of security," the police sources said.


Contacted later, Ms Wang told me: "I introduced myself and asked Mr Jiang to stop the killing of Falun Gong practitioners in China. He became very agitated [...].

"My point is that no one should be persecuted to death because of a different religious belief or point of view. It's against human morality to kill people for their beliefs," Ms Wang said.

Ms Wang said there were about 100 million Falun Gong practitioners in China. Falun Gong promotes discipline of the mind and body, self improvement, the search for truth, compassion and tolerance, she said.

Ms Wang said that last week a report from Hong Kong said that 15 Falun Gong practitioners had been beaten to death in the Chinese province of Heilongjing.

She is a graduate of the Norman Beihune university of medicine in Changchun, Jilin Province in China, and moved to the US 16 years ago, where she graduated in western medicine and later obtained a PhD in neuro science from the University of Chicago.

She leads one of the study groups of Falun Dafa in San Diego, California.


The sources said that Ms Wang was in Malta last week and had applied for a DOI press card but the accreditation was refused on the grounds that Ms Wang was considered 'a security risk'.

When asked to comment about the security risk she could have presented, Ms Wang said applications for a DOI card had to be screened by both the Maltese and the Chinese authorities.

"It seems the Chinese authorities objected to my having access to the Chinese President's visit," said Ms Wang.