Zhang Hongbao in Blast Furnace

---- A documentary on how the outstanding spiritual leader transformed to a political leader

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China's Largest Spiritual Movements Leader's Request Presents Dilemma for U.S.


USA TODAY: China's largest spiritual movements Leader's request presents dilemma for U.S. (Excerpt)

By Bill Nichols, [08/09/00] - Updated 08:06 PM ET


Washington the Clinton administration is facing a potentially explosive decision on granting political asylum for the leader of one of China's largest spiritual groups? a man Beijing claims is wanted on possible criminal charges. Zhang Hongbao, the founder of a spiritual movement known as Zhong Gong, is in Guam awaiting a ruling by Immigration and Naturalization Service officials in Hawaii on his request for political asylum.


On June 16, an INS court in Guam indicated that it would grant Zhang asylum. but a final decision has been delayed because the Chinese Embassy in Washington requested July 16 that Zhang be denied asylum and returned to China.


Zhang's case presents a dilemma for the U.S. government, which finds itself caught between two key principles of President Clinton's China policy:


On one hand, U.S. officials want to support freedom of religion and expression in China, particularly in the wake of Beijing's crackdown on Falun Gong.


On the other hand, the administration wants to maintain a fledgling system of cooperation with China on extraditing suspected criminals, even though the two countries do not have an official extradition treaty.


The vehemence of China's insistence that Zhang Hongbao be returned also has prompted fears of an overreaction by Beijing if he is allowed to stay in the USA.


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