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<-Back to WTN Archives China orders places of worship to register
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World Tibet Network News

Sunday, January 14, 1996



2. China orders places of worship to register


By Jane Macartney

BEIJING, Jan 14 (Reuter) - Beijing's religious authorities issued
orders on Sunday to all places of worship to register with the government
and warned of new problems in the practice of the various faiths permitted
in communist China.

The order to register appeared to mark the start of a move to crack
down on religion after an upsurge in interest as freedom to worship for
Christians, Buddhists, Tibetan Buddhists and Moslems has expanded rapidly
in recent years.

Officials at a national conference warned that some people were using
the guise of religion to subvert the state.

"Those who make use of religion to interfere with administrative,
judicial, martial, educational and other social affairs, especially those
who take advantage of religious reasons to split the country, must be
severely cracked down upon according to law," Xinhua news agency quoted
State Councillor Ismail Amat as saying.

"Rule of law over all social affairs is one of the major
characteristics for a modern society, and religious affairs are no
exception," Amat said.

The meeting identified three immediate tasks to clean up problems in
religion in 1996, Xinhua said.

The tasks are: to order all places of worship to register; to deal
with difficult religious problems of public concern; and to cultivate
contingents of young patriotic religious preachers, it said.

"We should note that under the reform and opening, there have also
appeared some new situations and problems regarding religion," Xinhua
said. "We must earnestly study and resolve these."

Amat urged closer cooperation between the Communist Party and
religion and warned of the need for the utmost vigilance and determination
in religious work, Xinhua said.

His attack on "splittism" was directed against the lead taken by
Buddhist monks and nuns in the deeply devout Himalayan region of Tibet,
who have been at the forefront of anti-Chinese demonstrations in recent
years.

The importance of controlling religion in Tibet was underscored on
Friday when Communist Party chief Jiang Zemin met the official
reincarnation of the Panchen Lama on Friday and urged the six-year-old
boy, Tibetan Buddhism's second-ranking monk, to defend patriotism in the
unruly region.

Beijing's enthronement of Gyaincain Norbu as the "soul boy" recipient
of the spirit of the 10th Panchen Lama, who died in 1989, aroused a storm
of controversy because it superseded the announcement of a different
reincarnation by Tibet's exiled god-king, the Dalai Lama.

China has also witnessed a revival of Christianity, with many new
churches being built, especially in rural areas, despite rules that ban
construction of new places of worship except on previous religious sites.

The resurgence in both Protestant and Catholic faiths in China has
brought other problems, sparking a warning from officials in central Anhui
province last November against illegal and criminal activities under the
banner of Christianity.

The province urged reform-through-labour punishment for offenders and
a ban on illegitimate missionary activity.

China's Catholic and Protestant churches, both controlled by the
state, claim several million believers but many more are believed to
worship at underground churches.

Amat also reminded the meeting of a 1994 State Council, or cabinet,
provision controlling religious activities -- a hint that foreign
Christians may be trying to boost their proselytising in China. Beijing
generally turns a blind eye to such small-scale activities in return for
English teaching.


Articles in this Issue:
  1. Protest held at Florida Splendid China
  2. China orders places of worship to register
  3. Bhutan-Refugees
  4. Xinjiang-Migration



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