Television signals illegally broadcast by the Falun Gong cult cut into transmissions using the Sino Satellite (SINOSAT) from June 23 to 30, blocking the World Cup finals for viewers in some rural and remote areas in China.
The Radio Administration of the Ministry of Information Industry said Monday that the hijacking of nine China Central Television Station (CCTV) channels and 10 provincial TV channels was committed by the overseas cult organization of Falun Gong, manipulated by its ringleader Li Hongzhi.
The hijack severely interfered with the normal broadcast of China's TV programs and operations of China's satellite, which violated the basic rules of civil telecommunications and international conventions, jeopardized China's national security and violated the rights and interests of the public.
The hijack mainly affected television users in rural and remote areas covered by the government scheme of "TV signals to every village." They were viewing celebrations for the fifth anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China, the World Cup finals and other major domestic and international news when the illegal signals occurred.
At 19:00:07 on June 23, some TV screens in the satellite monitoring center of the China Radio, Film, Television Satellite Company were suddenly blackened. Engineers on duty immediately called the Yungang Earth Station of the Aerospace Science and Technology Group Company responsible for the transmission of the signals for the government's "TV signals to every village" program.
"I have been working here for many years and have never come across buzz signals like this," said Sui Xiangdong, engineer on duty at the Yungang Station. He detected that the nine CCTV channels transmitted through the SINOSAT were hijacked by unidentified signals of a similar frequency spectrum to the CCTV programs.
The Yungang Station adjusted the carrier power to see what had happened, and the TV screens flashed with images of Falun Gong propaganda material.
In the meantime, the TV monitoring center of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television also recorded the illegal signals: at 19:08:40, Falun Gong propaganda material appeared on the screen; and at 10:09:26, the word "Falun Gong" in Chinese flashed again on the screen and frames of cult activities also appeared.
"The picture flickered, but I could tell from the footage and content that they were from the Falun Gong cult," said engineer Zhen Yaqing, who was on duty at the time.
According to statistics, from June 23 to 30, Falun Gong organizations outside China attacked SINOSAT 2A and SINOSAT 3A translators one by one, 10 provincial TV channels of Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan and others under the government program of "TV signals to every village" were also seriously affected.
"TV signal hijack for such a long time and on such a large scale is rare anywhere in the world," said Du Baichuan, vice president of the China Satellite Users Society.
Human society has entered the age of information, and satellite communications are an important medium for the exchange of information in the international community, he said.
According to international rules of telecommunications, the frequencies and technical parameters of satellite translators are public and transparent, and the normal operation of international telecommunications services rely on the self-discipline of all users and their joint efforts, he added.
"The Falun Gong cult outside China stole the frequency and technical parameters used by Chinese radio and television programs and used the same frequency to interrupt those programs. This illegal act is the same as having other people's keys made to break into their houses," said Du Baichuan.
"Falun Gong's act is an overt challenge to modern civilized society and is a flagrant subversion of social order and public morality, and should be condemned unanimously by the international community," he said.
Professor He Qizhi, director of the International Institute of Space Law, said, "Falun Gong's deeds severely trampled on international conventions and the basic norms of civil telecommunications."
According to the Charter of the United Nations, relevant international conventions and radio regulations made by the International Telecommunications Union, deliberate damaging and interruption of satellite broadcasting is illegal and should be punished in accordance with the law, he said.
Overseas Falun Gong cult organizations used technical methods to harm the public interests and bring serious consequences to society, said Cheng Guangren, general manager of the Sino Satellite Telecommunications Company. This act would bring heavy economic losses to the satellite firms and users, and caused serious disorder to the operation of satellite telecommunications services.
SINOSAT also carries signals for weather forecasting and telecommunications services. Cheng said that if those signals were sabotaged, it would, beyond doubt, endanger lives and economic safety and would disrupt the normal operation of China's national economy.
Sun Yulong, a farmer from Jingtai County in northwest China's Gansu Province, said he and his fellow villagers watched CCTV channel 7 daily and benefited a great deal from the scientific farming methods introduced by the channel.
"What Falun Kong fears is science, so it prevents us from watching TV," said Sun. "We hate the cult really."
Shi Fusheng, a resident in Tiaoshan Town and a footfall fan, said he had waited for four years to watch the World Cup, but couldn't see the final match because of Falun Gong's interruption.
"Falun Gong interrupted our lives," he said, "It's disgusting."
To the people who are suffering from flooding, the interruption of TV programs -- especially weather forecasts -- is no less than life-threatening, said Liu Yalong, a grass-roots local official at Huayin City in Shaanxi Province.
Liu said weather forecasts were a matter of great consequence, but Falun Kong had no regard for people's safety and blocked the program, bringing great harm to the people's lives and properties.
Chinese government departments have taken effective measures to guard against Falun Gong's illegal signals. China's radio and TV programs have returned to normal and all information transmission systems remain secured.
SINOSAT was launched in 1998 and serves dozens of clients including those of prime importance to the lives of Chinese people, including the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, the Chinese Offshore Petrol Corporation, the National Meteorological Bureau, and China Unicom.
(Xinhua News Agency July 8, 2002)