The lengthy, acidly worded critique by the state-run Xinhua News Agency signaled the government's anger and frustration that its 14-month crackdown on Falun Gong and the arrests of thousands of adherents have failed to crush the group.
Xinhua labeled Falun Gong "reactionary," a politically charged term used in China to tar the government's opponents. It accused the group of joining forces with pro-democracy campaigners and supporters of independence for Taiwan, Tibet, and China's unruly Muslim far west.
Falun Gong "openly opposes the party and government and has transformed completely from head to tail into a reactionary political organization with the goal of overthrowing the People's Republic of China and the socialist system," Xinhua said.
Falun Gong adherents deny that the group has political ambitions, maintaining that their beliefs--an eclectic mix of Taoist and Buddhist cosmology and the teachings of founder Li Hongzhi--promote health and morality. They have called for an end to China's crackdown and for legal recognition of the group as a school of "qigong," traditional Chinese health and meditation exercises from which Falun Gong is partly derived.
The government outlawed the group last year as a threat to Communist rule and as a public menace. Government officials say Falun Gong cheats members and has caused 1,500 deaths, including suicides and murders by group followers.
Xinhua's attack, among the most vitriolic carried by the wholly state-run media in recent months, appeared to have been prompted by a dramatic protest by hundreds of Falun Gong practitioners on Tiananmen Square during China's Oct. 1 National Day celebrations.
Police detained roughly 350 followers, beating most as they forced them into vans. Adherents chanted slogans, unfurled banners, and threw sheets of printed paper into the air, forcing the brief closure of much of the hallowed square in Beijing's heart.
Xinhua claimed that the demonstration provoked "great righteous indignation" among common Chinese, who have since "demanded that the government and judiciary severely punish the troublemakers."
It did not say whether punishments have or will be handed down to those detained. But it said "a considerable portion" of die-hard Falun Gong supporters "tend to be quite strongly anti-government, anti-society in their thinking"--harsh language that could presage even tougher government action against the group.
Falun Gong adherents have protested almost daily since the movement was banned in July 1999. Xinhua did not say how many took part in the Oct. 1 demonstration but noted that some Falun Gong protests in Beijing and other cities since May involved more than 100 followers.
Elsewhere Monday, two Falun Gong adherents were arrested after filing a lawsuit in mainland China accusing President Jiang Zemin of carrying out the brutal crackdown, local followers in Hong Kong said.
The Falun Gong practitioners, Chu O-ming, 43, and Wang Jie, 37, sent their lawsuit through the mail on Aug. 29 to the Chinese court, according to a Falun Gong spokesman in Hong Kong.
Spokesman Kan Hung-cheung told a news conference that Chu, a Hong Kong businessman, and Wang, an editor with a survey and map publisher in Beijing, were arrested in the Chinese capital on Sept. 7. Kan said the two were being held at a Beijing jail.
Falun Gong is legal in Hong Kong.