BEIJING, Feb 8, 2001 -- (Agence France Presse) China's crackdown on the Falun Gong movement sent ripples as far away as the Hague and Ottawa this week, showing that Beijing's harsh line on the spiritual group is becoming more and more of a diplomatic liability, analysts said. Dutch Foreign Minister Jozias van Aartsen made a last-minute cancellation of a planned visit to China and Hong Kong after Beijing objected to a meeting between a ranking Dutch human rights official and Falun Gong members. Meanwhile, Canadian officials said Prime Minister Jean Chretien would raise human rights issues, including the Falun Gong clampdown, in the course of a huge trade mission due to leave for China later this week. "It highlights the diplomatic costs of the crackdown on the Falun Gong," said Joseph Cheng, a China expert at City University of Hong Kong. "It has attracted wide international attention, and the Chinese government has a lot of explanation to do." Analysts said it was no coincidence that the 18-month-long repression of the [group], which claims 70 million members on the mainland, was suddenly moving nearer the top of the agenda for several foreign governments. George W. Bush had been in the White House for only four days when in late January his administration made clear it did not approve of the way Falun Gong was being treated. "I would renew our condemnation of China's crackdown on Falun Gong," U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, calling on Beijing to release all group members detained for peacefully exercising rights to "freedom of religion, freedom of belief and freedom of conscience." "These things sometimes have a bandwagon effect," said Cheng. "When one country -- such as the United States under the new administration -- takes a strong stand, other countries feel an urge to follow." [...] Another Chinese step that would have the potential to raise tempers in capitals across the globe would be if Beijing decided to ban the movement in Hong Kong, analysts said. That could prove a completely different story, as it would touch on China's willingness to grant Hong Kong the self-determination it promised when it took over control of the former British colony in 1997. That -- and not just the Falun Gong crackdown -- was one possible reason for the Dutch cancellation, since the scheduled meeting that started the row was to have taken place in Hong Kong, analysts said.