(Clearwisdom.net) A columnist for The OC Register, southern California's second largest newspaper, published an article on January 9, 2008, exposing the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles' letters to coerce local officials not to support the "Chinese New Year Spectacular" to be staged this month in San Diego and Los Angeles. One elected official was angered by the letter and wrote back to tell the Chinese Consulate that he was insulted by the letter, and he also reminded the Chinese Consulate that "free societies tolerate criticism" instead of suppressing it.

The article stated that the Chinese Consulate urged the chairman of the supervisors board in Orange County, Chris Norby, in its letter to "(make) sure no congratulations, no recognition letters, no attendance or no support in any form from the Hon. Board of Supervisor or your office be given to the 'Falun Gong' for such events this time and in the future."

Supervisor Norby told the reporter that at first he was puzzled by the letter. "But then the more he thought about it, the more ticked off he got." He describes Falun Gong as a "harmless organization."

"They're trying to dictate to democratically elected public officials what we should or should not do, Norby said. So he fired off an angry letter to the folks at the Chinese consulate, telling them he was 'insulted' by the letter and reminding them that 'free societies tolerate criticism' instead of suppressing it. He hasn't heard anything back."

"But according to press reports, in recent years a number of local government officials throughout California and the country have received similar letters and phone calls and even personal visits from Chinese diplomatic officials, warning them not to do anything nice for Falun Gong - issuing supportive proclamations, letting them march in parades and so on - because it could imperil Chinese-American relations. Some officials have caved in; others, like Norby, were annoyed and angry."

"'They (Chinese officials) don't only want to control people in China, they also want to influence foreign governments, at all levels,' says Yan-bo Yang of Irvine, a Falun Gong practitioner. 'This (letter) is typical of what they do.'"

"Now, I know that despite China's repression of groups like Falun Gong, or anybody else who criticizes the government, for economic reasons a lot of people in America want to make nice with the Chinese. After all, without China who would provide us with cheap, lead-based toys and poison pet-food products?"

The article also stated, "...the Chinese government has no business trying to influence or intimidate our local officials, on any subject. Our government should tell their government to butt out."