CB -- No Persecution in China

Emily Carder carder at MEMPHISONLINE.COM
Wed Oct 29 15:44:21 MST 1997

29 October 1997

Here is what "official" China says about religious persecution there.

Ecumenical News International
ENI News Service
29 October 1997

Beijing denies there is religious persecution in China

By Lo Man Wai
Hong Kong, 29 October (ENI)--The Beijing government has released an
official "White Paper" on religion, denying that there is religious
persecution in China.

The detailed document of 10 000 words, issued by the State Council
which exercises executive power in China, also promises to protect
religious freedom as a basic right for all citizens, provided that those
who practise religion register with the government and "hold aloft the
banner of patriotism".

The White Paper - on "The Situation of Religious Freedoms in China" -
was published following protests about persecution of underground
Christian congregations, Muslim groups  and Tibetan Buddhists. The
White Paper was released early this month, before China's President
Jiang Zemin travelled to the United States on a state visit. Apparently
Beijing hoped to defuse anticipated protests in the US about violations of
religious rights in China.
The White Paper dismissed such allegations and insisted that only
criminals were punished.
"Some of the heads of these pseudo-religions deceive the masses,
refuse to obey state laws and decrees, and incite people to overthrow
the government," the White Paper states. "The punishment of criminals
has nothing to do with religious belief."

Beijing officially recognises several major religious groups, including
major Protestant and Catholic organisations. These churches are allowed
to operate provided they function as purely Chinese bodies, not subject
to any foreign religious authorities. (Thus the officially sanctioned
Patriotic Association of Catholics has no links with the Vatican.)
However there are also underground Protestant and Catholic groups
which sometimes come into conflict with the Chinese authorities.

The White Paper states that about 100 million citizens (out of a total
population of more than 1.2 billion) practise religion, including Buddhism,
Islam and Christianity. According to the official statistics in the White
Paper, China has 10 million Protestants including 18 000 Protestant
preachers ministering at 12 000 churches and 25 000 "meeting points".
(The figures apparently do not include underground religious groups.)

The White Paper also declares that Beijing is willing to improve relations
with the Vatican. At present there are no diplomatic links between the
People's Republic of China and the Vatican, which is one of the few
states which officially recognises the Taiwanese government. But the
White Paper states that Beijing is only willing to open links with the
Vatican on two conditions: that the Vatican switches diplomatic
recognition from Taipei to Beijing; and that the Vatican does not interfere
in China's internal affairs on the pretext of religious affairs.

A whole chapter, comprising about a third of the White Paper, is devoted
to Christianity, including the "shameful role" played by Christian
missionaries who are accused of having assisted Western imperialism
and colonialism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The chapter also
describes the renewal of Christianity in China by the Protestant
Three-Self Movement and the Patriotic Association of Catholics. The
White Paper accuses early British and German missionaries of
supporting the opium trade. It  criticises the Vatican for supporting the
puppet regime in north-east China set up by the Japanese before World
War II.

  According to recent news reports, XuYongze, leader of a Chinese
Protestant group not recognised by the Beijing government, has been
sentenced to 10 years' hard labour for "cult activities" and disturbing the
social order.  Xu Yongze's sentence is believed to be the most severe
penalty handed down for religious activities since 1982. [570 words]

All articles (c) Ecumenical News International
Reproduction permitted only by media subscribers and
provided ENI is acknowledged as the source.

Ecumenical News International
Tel: (41-22) 791 6087/6515 Fax: (41-22) 798 1346
E-Mail: eni at wcc-coe.org
PO Box 2100   150 route de Ferney   CH-1211 Geneva 2   Switzerland


Rev. Paul T. McCain
Assistant to the President

The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
The International Center
1333 South Kirkwood Road
St. Louis, Missouri  63122

Phone:  800-248-1930, ext. 1424
Fax:    314-965-6108

E-mail: ptmccain at swbell.net or ic_mccainpt at lcms.org

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ic_president at lcms.org



Emily Carder

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