Fri, May 26, 2006 - Page 2 News List

MAC tells China to come clean

PERSECUTION MAC official Chang Shu-ti said that Beijing has created a false image of religious freedom but in reality continues to exert tight control on religious affairs

CNA , TAIPEI

Taiwan should "disclose" to the world the facts about Beijing's suppression of religious freedom and cooperate with international human rights organizations to enhance religious freedom in China, a Mainland Affairs Council official said on Tuesday.

According to Department of Policy and Planning head Chang Shu-ti, although China has adjusted its religious management policy and regulations under international pressure over recent years, it has not relaxed its interference in and control over religious affairs.

Chang said both US President George W. Bush's church visit in China last year and his receiving of Christian representatives from China soon after a visit to the US by Chinese President Hu Jintao this year were aimed at showing Washington's displeasure and concern about the status of religious development in China.

Since the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, Beijing has advocated atheism and has adopted a hostile attitude towards religion, Chang said.

While all five major religions in China are affiliated to various associations under the government and subject to supervision by the State Bureau of Religious Affairs and the the

Chinese Communist Party's United Front Work Department, any religious activities that do not belong to any of these associations are considered unlawful by the Beijing authorities, Chang said.

In the face of international criticism against the lack of religious freedom in China, Beijing has attempted to improve its image by creating a false impression of religious freedom, with tactics including implementing an amended religious affairs law in March last year, releasing a white paper on domestic democratic politics in October last year in which religious beliefs were said to be protected by law, then launching a Web site in December to publicize religious affairs in China, he said.

He said Beijing's claim that it allows religious freedom contradicted its suppression of religious activities.

For example, he said, any Christian organizations that are not a member of the "patriotic churches" are viewed as foreign conspiracy groups, and Beijing has cracked down on various religious activities under the pretext of suppressing superstitious beliefs or cults, with Falun Gong a particular target.

On cross-strait religious matters, Chang said Beijing has taken an entirely different attitude in dealing with Buddhist,Taoist and Christian exchange activities.

While Beijing is active in promoting cross-strait Buddhist and Taoist exchanges, because it thinks such exchanges are helpful to realizing its goal of unification, it does not welcome cross-strait Catholic or Protestant exchanges for fear that foreign forces will make their way into China, Chang said.

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