(Clearwisdom.net) This past Wednesday, April 21, 2004, several Falun Gong practitioners held a press conference and called for the U.S. government to expel visiting Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai. Below is a report from RFA correspondent Wen Jian.

Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai, who was recently promoted to this position, is currently attending the 15th meeting of the Sino-U.S. Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade along with Chinese vice-premier Wu Yi. Why did Falun Gong practitioners make such a request? Mr. Pearman, a spokesman for Friends of Falun Gong, said at this press conference, "On March 9, 2004, 'Friends of Falun Gong' submitted a list of names of 102 key persons responsible for the ongoing persecution of Falun Gong to the U.S. government, one of them being Bo Xilai, and urged the U.S. government to prohibit these people from entering the U.S."

FFG (Friends of Falun Gong) stated at the press conference that Mr. Bo Xilai has personally participated in the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, mainly through his tenure as the mayor of Dalian City and governor of Liaoning Province. During his tenure as governor, Liaoning Province was among those provinces that oppressed Falun Gong most severely. From March 2003 to March 2004, Liaoning Province reported at least 2,915 persecution cases. These practitioners were illegally detained or savagely tortured. Information about twenty such cases were filed by their overseas families to call for their rescue. As of April 19, 2004, according to international human rights organizations, the number of Falun Gong practitioners who have died as a result of the persecution in Liaoning Province was verified to be 103, ranking fourth in the country."

Are there legal grounds to support the Falun Gong practitioners' request? Spokesperson for Friends of Falun Gong, Mr. Court Pearman, said in his statement that "In accordance with Section 212(a)(2)(G) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationalization Act (INA) and Section 3 of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA), which provide that foreign government officials who have engaged in particularly severe violations of religious freedom in the past 24 months, and their spouses and children, are inadmissible to the United States." He said that, "based on U.S. law, Bo Xilai should be among the list of people who are prohibited to enter the U.S., and he is not welcome in the U.S." Friends of Falun Gong calls for his immediate deportation.

According to one U.S. media report, it is expected that the U.S. and China will sign important agreements at this meeting regarding protection of intellectual property rights and the opening of certain markets. The spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs for China said at a press conference before the meeting that China hopes this meeting will reduce the gap between U.S. and China in the financial sector.

Would the U.S. government also respond to Falun Gong's request?