Independent Online Edition > Asia
In the 19th century the Taiping Rebellion sprang from a religious cult which provoked perhaps the bloodiest civil war in human history when the forces of the Qing Empire clashed with those of a mystic named Hong Xiuquan who said he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ and claimed to be the new Messiah. At least 20 million people and perhaps as many as 100 million perished.
Not long after that came the Boxer Rebellion in which rebels also saw the world in more metaphysical terms, claiming that movement exercises influence the fundamental forces of the universe. They even went so far as to insist that their breathing exercises would allow them to ward off bullets. Nor wonder the normally inscrutable President Hu looked taken aback when the Falun Gong woman screamed.