HOUSTON, October 22, 2002, (Falun Dafa Information Center) -- Days before Chinese Communist leader, Jiang Zemin's, visit to Houston, local businesses and residents have already begun feeling the pressure.Practitioners' Hotel Reservations CancelledAt least 57 Falun Gong practitioners were recently notified that their reservations at the Homestead Village Guest Studio had been cancelled abruptly. One month ago, a local resident arranged for 50 hotel rooms to be reserved for Falun Gong practitioners. Practitioners from around the country then proceeded to book the rooms individually.The Homestead hotel withdrew the business agreement, however, and travelers who had booked their rooms under the Falun Gong reservation lost their rooms. Hotel staff provided inconsistent explanations for this sudden withdrawal.The Homestead is adjacent to the Intercontinental Hotel where Jiang plans on staying from October 23-25. Last April, German media reported that Falun Gong practitioners were abruptly forced to clear their rooms in the Berlin Adlon Hotel where Jiang and his delegation stayed. Similar incidents occurred during Jiang's visits to Russia and Iceland this past June.Mainland Group Pressures Hotel to Cancel Ballroom ReservationFalun Gong practitioners made arrangements with the Doubletree Post Oak Hotel to reserve a ballroom in order to hold a small conference for the many practitioners who plan on visiting Houston this week. The hotel, however, did not honor the agreement, openly stating that a group from China, who had reserved another ballroom, insisted that Falun Gong practitioners do not meet in the same hotel."Welcome Team" Requires Participants to Surrender Their First Amendment RightsA Mainland China student association known as the Friendship Association of Chinese Students and Scholars (FACSS) issued a statement last week requiring those who wish to take part in activities welcoming the Chinese President to first sign an agreement. The agreement states that participants wave their right to freedom of speech, "in order to protect the purity of our Welcome Team".The letter states that while different people have the rights to "protest with any other groups…such as Falun Gong", participants in the welcome activities must "voluntarily waive any such rights." Although participation is optional, FACSS announced, "anybody who is against this agreement will be sued by our organization immediately."Further investigation has revealed that many of those on the "Welcome Team" are, in fact, paid for welcoming Jiang Zemin to Houston. Furthermore, local business owners have been threatened that their business with China will suffer if they do not attend the welcome. During Jiang´s visit to Europe last June, a similar welcoming team followed the delegation and "greeted" the president wherever he arrived.Jiang's Agents Arrive Early to Disseminate PropagandaSources have reported that 25 Chinese Government agents arrived in Houston over the past several weeks and met with local officials, distributing misinformation and outright lies about Falun Gong.Want to Report in the U.S.? Please Apply at the Chinese ConsulateA "Welcoming Banquet" is scheduled at the Intercontinental Hotel on October 23, the day Jiang's delegation arrives. Media outlets interested in being present at the event were required to apply for a permit with Houston's City Secretary. One Chinese media reporter has revealed, however, that upon applying for such a permit, U.S.-based Chinese speaking media were told that the Chinese Consulate will be responsible for issuing all permits to any Chinese speaking media.Pattern of Discriminatory and Persecutory MeasuresJiang Zemin is scheduled to head a delegation that will arrive in Houston on October 23 for a visit that will last until October 25. According to international media reports, during Jiang's recent trips to Germany, Eastern Europe, and Iceland he and his delegation pressured local businesses, police forces, and governments to take discriminatory action towards Falun Gong practitioners and other groups who are regularly targeted by Jiang's regime.Falun Gong practitioners, for instance, were assaulted by Chinese police in Germany, arrested without grounds under the influence of members of Jiang's delegation in Russia, and blacklisted at Jiang's request in Iceland. These actions by Jiang's delegation led to much criticism by local government and human rights leaders as well as international media.