China's most famous scientist was rolled out by the authorities yesterday to condemn the outlawed Falun Gong sect. Official media reported that President Jiang Zemin and Vice-Premier Li Lanqing visited Qian Xuesen at his home in Beijing. Professor Qian helped design and test China's nuclear bombs and missiles in the 1950s. The President praised the 88-year-old professor for his contribution to China's scientific developments and discussed with him its recent successful launch and recovery of an unmanned spacecraft. In response, the professor gave his 'unreserved support' to the leaders' decision to crackdown on the Falun Gong. 'Falun Gong is an evil cult with political motives, and deserves the banning and criticism,' the professor was quoted by Xinhua as saying. 'The struggle against evil cults like Falun Gong must be thorough and resolute and we cannot be soft on them. 'I am sure through this struggle, most practitioners [of Falun Gong] must have woken up to their mistakes.' Professor Qian taught aerodynamics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States before he returned to China in the 1950s and took part in Beijing's nuclear programme. The professor was dubbed China's 'father of atomic bomb' and enjoyed respect among intellectual and scientific circles. Falun Gong was banned in July and declared an 'evil cult' in October. Despite the crackdown, tens of thousands of Falun Gong followers continue to defy the ban and petition the authorities. There have been rumours that Professor Qian is an enthusiastic supporter of qi gong. He reportedly told scientists in Beijing they could achieve a major breakthrough if they could harness supernatural forces through qi gong.