BEIJING Overseas court rulings that support banned spiritual group Falun Gong are hurting China's relations with those countries, China's Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.
It was responding to an Argentine court issuing an arrest warrant for China's former top leader.
An Argentine federal judge on Dec. 17 asked Interpol to issue an arrest warrant against former Chinese president Jiang Zemin and former security chief Luo Gan after four years of investigating charges of torture and genocide against Falun Gong practitioners.
"Falun Gong has been legally recognised as a cult by the Chinese government," Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said on Thursday in a faxed response to a Reuters query.
"Falun Gong's scheme to use foreign court proceedings to bring false charges hurts China's relations with the relevant countries, and this plot of false charges cannot succeed."
Jiang was president of China when Falun Gong mobilised thousands of followers in a surprise silent protest in front of the central government compound in April 1999.
A few months later, China launched an all-out campaign against the group, driving it underground and into exile, where it has attracted followers world-wide.
Thousands of Chinese citizens have been jailed or sentenced to labour camps since China declared Falun Gong a cult in 1999.
The Falun Dafa Information Center, which tracks suspected abuses against practitioners in China, says 104 Falun Gong adherents died of abuse or neglect in custody last year, bringing to 3,242 the number of deaths documented over 10 years.
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez is scheduled to travel to China in January to discuss bilateral trade and business. Fernandez has pushed for human rights trials in Argentina against former military officers accused of abuses during the 1976-1983 "dirty war" against leftists.
Falun Gong has brought similar cases against Jiang, Luo and other Chinese officials in France, Spain and elsewhere.
(Reporting by Lucy Hornby; Editing by Jerry Norton)