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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

WORLD VIEW: The Daily Telegraph

A year ago, 10,000 of them unexpectedly surrounded Zhongnanhai, the Chinese leadership's compound in Beijing, and demanded official recognition of their movement. On Wednesday, in far smaller numbers, they demonstrated in Tiananmen Square before being dragged off by police. Falun Gong members, practitioners of the breathing discipline qiqong, have proved remarkably persistent in the face of savage persecution.

Last July, the sect was banned as a danger to the nation. Hundreds of its leaders have been imprisoned. Thousands more have been sent to labor camps without trial. On Wednesday, up to 100 adherents were arrested, having unfurled small yellow flags and begun their meditative routine in the heart of the capital.

At a time when slowing economic growth is undermining the Communists' sole claim to legitimacy, and when half a century of dialectical materialism has left a huge spiritual vacuum, the appeal of a sect like Falun Gong is obvious. Is it a portent of the kind of "people power" that overthrew Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines in 1986? The odds are against it.

But that is no reason for not saluting the bravery of those who continue to defy an unjust ban. It is the Chinese state, not the sect, that belongs in the dock.

April 26