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[] AP 24.09.02: Chinese government: Falun Gong tapped into nationwide satellite system,

Associated Press September 24, 2002
Chinese government: Falun Gong tapped into nationwide satellite system


Supporters of the outlawed Falun Gong movement hacked into China's top TV 
satellite system with their most audacious breach so far, beaming flashes 
of their own material across the vast land during programming aimed at 
millions of rural Chinese, the government said Tuesday.

In a full-throttle condemnation Tuesday night on its national newscast and 
through its official news agency, the government blamed a pirated broadcast 
operation from Taiwan for the "TV hijacking" and demanded that authorities 
on the island track down and punish the culprits.

"Why do some Falun Gong die-hards dare to blemish modern civilization in 
such a barefaced manner?" the Xinhua News Agency said in a blistering 
editorial that accompanied a 1,100-word report about the incursion.

Xinhua said the commandeering of a signal from Sino Satellite, or Sinosat, 
began Sept. 9 and had affected signals of a service designed to enable 
remote villages across the country to see broadcasts from China Central 
Television, or CCTV, the leading government-run network. The hacking also 
interrupted transmission of the China Education TV Station and some 
provincial-level TV stations, Xinhua said. It cut off television entirely 
for viewers in some rural and mountainous areas. Other interruptions 
happened Saturday during China's Moon Festival, Xinhua said.

"This seriously damaged the rights and interests of the audience and 
affected the normal education order of schools and as well as the learning 
activities of students," Zhang Tianlin, vice president of the education 
station, was quoted as saying.

Broadcasts promoting Falun Gong flashed for some moments on five TV 
channels, broadcast officials said, and service interruptions continued for 
more than an hour. It was unclear if the interruptions were caused by Falun 
Gong itself or by attempts to block its broadcasts.

Falun Gong has made a practice in recent months of hacking into local TV 
feeds and broadcasts, often broadcasting pirate transmissions to tout the 
benefits of the group and persuade the citizenry that Chinese authorities 
have treated it unfairly. China says such transmissions have "disrupted the 
public order" and go against international communications standards.

The television break-ins have embarrassed the government, which calls the 
protest videos "reactionary propaganda" and says they threaten social 
stability. It considers Falun Gong - and the support it has - a direct 
threat to communist rule.

Levi Browde, a U.S.-based Falun Gong spokesman, said he had no information 
about any transmissions originating from Taiwan - or any made in recent 
days. But he praised the "heroic act," which he said was not 
internationally orchestrated.

"In the environment they're in, they have no voice on TV, radio or any 
media in China," Browde said. Such a broadcast "pulls back the veil on the 
lies and deception upon which the propaganda campaign against Falun Gong 
has been built."

Previous hackings have targeted cities and regions, but this appears to be 
the first time Falun Gong supporters have breached such a widely 
distributed nationwide signal. Officials said they were certain the hacking 
originated in Taiwan.

An official with the Taiwan Affairs Office, which handles relations with 
the island's government, said Taiwan authorities must track down and punish 
the hackers. "The Taiwan side is responsible for stopping the criminal 
activity immediately," said the official, whom Xinhua did not name.

In Taipei, Taiwan's government did not immediately respond to the accusation.

Though Taiwan operates as a sovereign nation, Beijing considers it part of 
China and referred to the hacking as originating in "Taiwan province."

John Pike, director of, an Alexandria, Va., organization 
that follows security issues, said jamming broadcasts is expensive and 
requires expertise but is not difficult, though replacing them with your 
own is quite challenging.

"It's definitely not something you could try at home. You could not do it 
from your backyard," Pike said. "It would have to be somebody who had a lot 
of money and also had a location they thought they could do it from without 
getting immediately caught."

Last week, 15 people convicted of breaking into a cable system to show 
Falun Gong videos were sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. The sentences 
were among the longest yet imposed in the campaign to crush the spiritual 
movement, which had millions of followers before it was banned.

Thousands of Falun Gong followers have been detained since the group was 
outlawed. Most are released after a few months, though a government 
official told The Associated Press earlier this year that nearly 1,300 had 
been sentenced to prison.

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