Central 610 Office is China’s Cult Department

China’s mysterious ‘anti-cult’ office

Want China Times

Staff Reporter

2013-12-29

The recent announcement of a graft investigation into public security vice minister Li Dongsheng has cast a spotlight on the mysterious “anti-cult” office he has headed since October 2009, reports Duowei News, an outlet run by overseas Chinese.

Li, 58, was last Friday placed under investigation for violations of the law and party discipline — party code for corruption — according to a press release from China’s official Xinhua news agency.

For the last four years, Li has been the vice chief in charge of the group responsible for the government’s handling of religious cults, otherwise known as the Central 610 Office.

This mysterious office was said to have been originally set up by the Communist Party on June 10, 1999 — giving rise to its name — to stamp out the banned Falun Gong spiritual sect, which had been spreading throughout China at the time. Souces say the full name of the office was actually the “Leadership Team to Handle Falun Gong Issues of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee.”

In September 2000, China’s State Council set up its own “Office of the State Council to Prevent and Handle Cult Issues,” which effectively merged with the Central 610 Office in practice but remained separate entities in name. The office was unveiled publicly after a self-immolation incident involving Falun Gong practitioners in January 2001, after which then-office chief Liu Jing announced that the central government had decided to set up a special unit to deal with the complex issue of religious cults.

As both a state body and party body in one, the Central 610 Office is an unusual department which has the ability to affect policy and strategy in both spheres. Sub-divisions of the 610 Office have also been set up in local governments across the country. Usually these sub-divisions are headed by the deputy chief of the local public security bureau.

What the 610 Office actually does remains shrouded in mystery, though from publicly available information it appears that the body is reponsible for work relating to Falun Gong and other religious cults that are considered “harmful to society.” The office is believed to be in charge of developing targeted strategies for the party and government on preventing and dealing with incidents stemming from cult activities, including controlling education and issuing propaganda aimed at deterring and “reforming” Falun Gong enthusiasts.

While the key words in the name of the office has changed from “Falun Gong” to “Cult” since it was first established, its primary focus on cracking down on Falun Gong appears unchanged. On Dec. 12, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling on the Chinese government “to end immediately the practice of harvesting organs from prisoners of conscience,” including from large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners. In response to the resolution, a media spokesperson for the Mission of the PRC to the European Union dismissed the Falun Gong organ harvesting claims as complete fabrications.

“Falun Gong is a cult in every sense and an anti-China political organization,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “The European side should not be misled by its lies nor provide platform for its deceptive tricks.”

 

References:

Li Dongsheng  李東生

Liu Jing  劉京

http://www.wantchinatimes.com/news-subclass-cnt.aspx?id=20131229000038&cid=1101

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