China plans jam-proof communications satellite to keep ahead of Falungong

BEIJING (AFP) – China plans to launch a jam-proof communications satellite next year in a bid to keep a step ahead of Falungong and other groups using radio and TV to spread their messages, state media said.

The Chinese Academy of Space Technology, which developed the satellite, said the SINOSAT-II was designed to resist interference from outside sources, especially the Falungong, according to the China Daily.

One of the latest attacks occurred in October when members of Falungong, banned as an “evil cult” in China, blocked signals from SINOSAT, the existing communications satellite, as China was broadcasting its first manned space mission, the paper said.

The SINOSAT-II is the first large-capacity communications satellite designed and developed solely by China, and it hopes to be able to get a bite of the global market with the new product, according to the report.

The SINOSAT-II launch is being planned as China’s space program enters a “pivotal” period, according to the paper.

The country expects to place 10 satellites into orbit in 2004, more than any other year in history, according to Zhang Qingwei, a top aerospace official.

China plans to send two astronauts into space next year, and hopes to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon by 2010.

Falungong once claimed millions of followers in China but has faced a tough crackdown by the government, which considers it one of the most serious threats to its rule.

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