CHICAGO (FDI) - On July 2, Xinhua News Agency reported in Wenzhou City in Zhenjiang province "16 Beggars Poisoned: the Suspect is a Falun Gong Member." However, the Xinhua account is contradicted by the first report on this story in a local newspaper. A follow-up investigation uncovered more discrepancies and demonstrated there was no connection between the alleged murder cases and Falun Gong.Chinese Communist Party critics say Xinhua created the story to strengthen its four-year hate campaign against the ancient Chinese discipline.Xinhua News Conflicts with Local Chinese News ReportOn July 2, Xinhua news published its "16 Beggars Poisoned" story. Just seven hours before on the same day, the Metropolitan Express (Du Shi Kuai Bao), a local Chinese newspaper, published its own story, which contradicts the Xinhua news agency account.In the Metropolitan Express article, the case had not yet been solved. In the Xinhua News Agency story, however, the case was solved "last night." (i.e., July 1). Furthermore, according to Xinhua, the alleged murderer was one Chen Yongfeng, who was said to be a Falun Gong practitioner. The Metropolitan Express article did not mention Falun Gong at all.Curiously, the Xinhua account lacked details about the crimes. What it added to the story was the news that the case was closed and that the murderer was Falun Gong. The Metropolitan Express article has many details about the still-open case, including the news that Chen Yongfeng was arrested on May 24, and that there had nonetheless been seven similar deaths since his arrest.Investigation Uncovers Xinhua Fabrications, InaccuraciesThe World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG) contacted individuals in Zhenjiang to investigate the story. A member of the Department of Propaganda for Cangnan County told WOIPFG "with great certainty" that this case has not been solved, and that in fact more than 500 policemen are still investigating the case.Furthermore, a member of the Radio and T.V. broadcasting bureau for Cangnan County confirmed that there had been no reports of this crime being solved, and no mention of Falun Gong in connection with it.An official of the Cangnan County government, when asked about Chen Yongfeng, said that he was known to be psychotic."That Xinhua would report on a murder case like this is itself exceptional," observes Dr. Shiyu Zhou, a spokesperson for the Falun Dafa Information Center. "Usually reports on crime are left to the local media."After Xinhua reported on this story, however, local newspapers around China then reported this case, and repeated the accusations made by Xinhua."These other reports may have given some western observers the impression that the Xinhua report reflected local reports, rather than driving them," continues Dr. Zhou. "In fact, those who work in local media in China know well that once Xinhua takes a position, the local news must fall in line."The one exception to this was the Metropolitan News story."The Xinhua story seems to have been written in response to the Metropolitan News, and to have had only one purpose: to turn a local story about sensational serial murders into a national, sensational political story aimed at attacking Falun Gong," Dr. Zhou says.Dr. Zhou also observed that the teachings and philosophy in Falun Gong prohibit killing.Western Media: An Pawn for Communist Propaganda?The Xinhua report was carried by a number of western news wires, about which Dr. Zhou expressed concern. "Xinhua reports should be understood as statements from the Chinese Communists, not news as we know it in the free press. Repeating Xinhua statements as if they were news is exactly carrying out the Communist agenda."