China orders fans to be screened for Falun Gong links - Falun Gong followers practise meditation exercises in Hong Kong on May 13
BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese authorities have ordered domestic travel agencies to watch out for members of the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement among soccer fans heading to watch China's debut game in the World Cup finals, industry executives said.
Travel agencies had also been told to look out for people saying they were travelling to South Korea to watch China play but who were unlikely to return, the executives told Reuters on Friday.
"We are told to watch out for Falun Gong practitioners and those with intentions to overstay," said Chen Na, spokesman for China International Sports Travel Service (CISTS), the official distributor of 15,749 World Cup tickets allotted to China by FIFA.[...]
Chen said the travel agencies had also been told to hand lists of fans to the National Tourism Administration and police for further screening before each tour group set off for South Korea.
"I heard there were plans to mix plain-clothes police officers in tourist groups to South Korea," said an executive from Beijing Shenzhou International Travel Services.
While the CISTS monopolises all FIFA-allotted tickets, several other major travel services, including Shenzhou, have managed to acquire thousands of tickets from corporate sponsors of the World Cup or directly from South Korean fan clubs.
Chinese media have estimated about 25,000 tickets landed in China, but South Korean tourism regulators estimate some 40,000 Chinese fans will make it to South Korea.
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