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Chinese Offical on Freedom of Religious Beliefs
2004-03-09 11:55
                              by Mr. Ye Xiaowen, director of China's State
                              Bureau of Religious Affairs
                              February 20, 2001 , Beijing
                              Mr. Ye Xiaowen, director of China's State Bureau
                              of Religious Affairs, said at a conference on
                              February 19, 2001 in Beijng, that the Chinese
                              government highly respects the freedom of
                              religions, but will never allow the existence of
                              evil cults in the country.

                              Respecting freedom of religions and guaranteeing
                              independent running of religious groups are two
                              basic principles of China's religious policy.
                              Stressing that the Chinese people now enjoy full
                              freedom of religious beliefs, Ye cited that
                              religious believers in China have now exceeded
                              100 million, among whom there are more than 10
                              million Christians, four million Catholics, and
                              18 million Moslems.

                              Up to 1996, there were more than 85,000 worship
                              sites nationwide for practitioners of Buddhism,
                              Islam, Taoism, Christianity and Catholicism to
                              conduct religious activities, Ye said. The
                              number of religious professionals in China has
                              reached 300,000, while those of religious groups
                              exceeded 3,000 and higher-learning religious
                              schools amounted to 74, respectively, said Ye.
                              China's religious circles maintain exchanges and
                              contacts with religious groups in more than 70
                              countries and regions, Ye said.

                              People from the religious sector also play an
                              active role in the country's political life,
                              with some 17,000 people with religious
                              affiliation elected as deputies to the National
                              People's Congress and members of the National
                              Committee of the Chinese People's Political
                              Consultative Conference.

                              Though the government grants full freedom to
                              religious beliefs, Ye stressed that evil cults
                              like the much-condemned Falun Gong can go
                              nowhere in the country since the Chinese
                              government will never allow any evil cult to
                              harm its people and jeopardize society.
                              The Chinese government classified Falun Gong
                              under the category of evil cults given the
                              destructive consequences it caused to society. A
                              string of criminal activities of Falun Gong
                              fully exposed its anti-human, anti-society and
                              anti-science nature, Ye said.

                              The cult has claimed 1,600 lives in the Chinese
                              mainland, leading to suicides, suicidal blazes,
                              self-mutilation, and even children killing their
                              parents, Ye said, noting that any responsible
                              government will not hesitate to take actions to
                              prevent such tragedies from happening.
                              As for Falun Gong in Hong Kong, Ye said that the
                              Falun Gong group here also takes instructions
                              from Li Hongzhi, leader of the evil cult.

                              Recently, Falun Gong activities in Hong Kong
                              have gone increasingly internationalized and
                              politicized, Ye said.

                              Hong Kong's Falun Gong group has now peeled off
                              its disguise of "not participating in politics,
                              not opposing the government and not joining
                              force with any political forces," and has
                              targeted directly against the central government, he said.

                              Some people and media in Hong Kong have already
                              expressed doubt on whether the group's
                              activities are in line with the creeds under
                              which the group was registered, Ye said.
                              He warned that any group or individual
                              attempting to use Hong Kong as a base for Falun
                              Gong activities or as an anti-China base to
                              hamper the implementation of "one country, two
                              systems" and harm Hong Kong's prosperity and
                              stability is doomed to failure. The Hong Kong
                              Special Administrative Region (SAR) government
                              is a responsible government, Ye said, adding
                              that he believes that the SAR government is wise
                              and capable enough to handle the Falun Gong
                              matter in Hong Kong.

                              Ye delivered his speech, entitled "The
                              Development of Chinese Religions in the Past
                              Century in China," as the first keynote speaker
                              at an event organized by the Chinese University
                              of Hong Kong to discuss religions in the past
                              and their future.

                              Attending the lecture series were hundreds of
                              renowned religious leaders and scholars from the
                              mainland, Hong Kong, China 's Taiwan and the
                              United States. (Xinhua)

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