U.S. Says Chinese Force-Fed Jailed U.S. Citizen

Reuters, July 22, 2003

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Chinese prison authorities force-fed an American Falun Gong member who went on hunger strike last week, the State Department said on Tuesday.

U.S. citizen Charles Li, a member of the banned spiritual movement, is serving a three-year sentence after a Chinese court found him guilty of sabotaging television broadcasts.

Li told U.S. officials on July 16 that he intended to go on hunger strike in protest at his treatment.

“We understand he was force-fed on July 17 and that he resumed eating normally on July 18,” State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told a daily briefing.

“Our consulate general in Shanghai has inquired as to the methods employed in force-feeding and we are awaiting a response from Chinese authorities,” he added.

On Friday the United States complained to China about the treatment of Li, who is from Menlo Park, California, and is also known as Chuck Lee. The State Department said he had been forced to attend anti-Falun Gong study groups but gave no other details of his complaints.

China branded Falun Gong an “evil cult” in 1999 after thousands of followers shocked the government with a mass protest around the Beijing leadership compound near Tiananmen Square, demanding official recognition of their faith.

The group combines a mixture of Taoism, Buddhism, traditional Chinese breathing exercises and the ideas of its founder, Li Hongzhi.

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