A spokesman for the Religious Affairs Bureau
of the State Council issued a statement on October 14
refuting charges by the U.S. State Department's "Annual
Report on International Religious Freedom for 1999"
against China's policy on religion. The following is the
full text of the statement:
Department of the United States recently issued its
"Annual Report on International Religious Freedom for
1999", which irresponsibly commented on religious
affairs in many countries, including China, threw mud at
China for no reasons, listed China as a country for
"special concern" based on the "the
International Religious Freedom Act", and went so far
as to threaten China with sanctions.
strongly indignant at and resolutely opposed to such
unfounded and unreasonable accusations.
China section of the "Annual Report on International
Religious Freedom for 1999" is nothing new, but rumors,
distortion, fabrication and imagination with some brand-new
packaging, plus some threats as always, to create excuses
for the implementation of its International Religious
We must solemnly point out with
justice that in China, freedom of religious belief is a
fundamental right to which all citizens are entitled by the
Constitution and law and the problem of "religious
persecution" does not exist in China. Such fact can not
be distorted by anyone in any means.
citizens enjoy full religious freedom. China is not only a
large country in terms of population, it is also a major
country in terms of religion, with schools of Buddhism,
Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism and others, and a
total of 100 million religious adherents among a national
population of 1.2 billion.
engage in various religious activities at temples, mosques,
churches and individual residences. There are 85,000 places
of worship across the country, 300,000 clergymen, over 3,000
religious organizations, and 74 religious seminaries run by
those organizations to train clergymen.
religious organizations operate their own affairs
independently, run seminaries to suit their own needs,
publish their classical works and other publications, and
have service organs for the public interest.
In the case of Christianity, more than 20
million copies of the Bible have been printed in the past
ten and more years, making Chinese Christianity the largest
school of religion in the world in terms of Bible
Most religious figures praise the
fact that this is the best time for all the religions in
The authors of the U.S. State
Department's report have put on a masquerade of caring for
the religious freedom in other countries, and have been
repetitiously producing legislative bills and reports for
the alleged purpose of improving religious freedom in other
Faced with the sound conditions of
religion in China, they still irresponsibly throw stones at
China like a blind man feeling a giant elephant. Can anyone
believe they do not have ulterior motives?
Along with hackneyed and stereotyped
expressions, the U.S. report chooses bits and pieces with
which to criticize China to deny any achievements made by
the Chinese government in the field.
the fact that the Chinese people have the right to believe
in religion, a right protected by Chinese law, the report' s
authors had to acknowledge the freedom of religious belief
among the Chinese on one hand, but repudiated the role of
the law to standardize social behavior in China on the other
The U.S. report made the nonsensical
charge that the registration of religious places to the
Chinese government means strict control of religious groups
and their activities.
In fact, the Chinese
government strives for better protection for the legitimate
rights of religious groups through registration, in
accordance with the Chinese law.
It is also an
international practice to register social groups. In China,
any social group, including religious one, must apply for
registration from civil affairs authorities, a practice
which is in agreement with the management regulation for
In accordance with the
management regulations for religious ritual places which was
promulgated in 1994, appropriate religious activities in
ritual places should be protected by the law, and no group
or individual may infringe on religious people's legitimate
rights or intervene in their affairs.
regulation also stipulates that all ritual places which meet
the legal requirements can be authorized to register. After
registration, the ritual place can obtain legitimate status,
which is fully safeguarded by the law.
there are infringements on its legal rights, religious
groups and management bodies for religious activities may
appeal to governmental administrative organs or even
people's courts to seek legal settlement.
Therefore, Chinese religious figures uphold
the regulation on registration of religious places. If
ordering religious groups to register is a restriction, many
nations and regions throughout the world are implementing
the very same "restriction."
the purpose of the U.S. criticizing the registration
regulation, a practice normal in many countries?
In addition, the U.S. report talked nonsense
about 30 million Chinese people carrying out their Mass at
"home churches". In fact, there are no "house
churches" in China.
organize religious rituals in families, which is only called
a House Meeting. Christians who take part in the House
Meeting also join congregations in churches, except for
those who are too old or weak. House Meetings are just a
supplement to church meetings.
government respects these House Meetings and would never
The authorities do not ask
religious believers to register these kinds of gatherings,
and they neither intervene in nor restrict their activities.
Thus, the Chinese government has no specific
statistics on House Meetings. The U.S. report barely knows
the facts about the religious activities of the Chinese
people, but rather fabricates stories according to their own
After randomly criticizing
religious freedom and governmental management in China, the
U.S. report pretends to bewail the times and pity the
people, asking the Chinese government to revise its laws and
regulations and loosen the requirements for registration.
It is rude as well as naive for the U.S. to
intervene in the internal affairs of other nations and
impose its own will on them.
In today's world,
there is no nation with sovereignty that follows up other
nations' will or allows them to intervene in its internal
The report alleges that in China,
foreigners' religious activities face more limits and
monitorings and that preaching is not allowed in the
The fact is that the Chinese
government fully respects the freedom in religious belief of
all the foreigners within its territory, and protects their
normal religious activities.
Provision on the Administration of Religious Activities of
Aliens Within the Territory of the People's Republic of
China,"which was promulgated by the Chinese government
in 1994, categorically stipulates that China respects the
freedom in religious belief of aliens within its territory,
and protects friendly contacts and cultural and academic
exchanges of aliens with Chinese religious circles.
It also stipulates that aliens may participate
in religious activities at sites for religious activities
within the Chinese territory, may preach and expound their
scriptures at Chinese sites for religious activities at the
invitation of Chinese religious bodies at or above the level
of provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, may
hold religious activities attended by aliens at the sites
for religious activities approved by the department of
religious affairs of the people's government at or above the
county level, may invite Chinese religious personnel to hold
such religious ceremonies as baptism, weddings, funerals,
and Taoist and Buddhist rites, and may carry into the
country religious printed matter, religious audio-visual
products and other religious articles for personal use.
Also, when China holds large international
conferences, sports events, and cultural and academic
exchanges, organizers may apply to the Chinese government
for designating special religious sites for the religious
activities of foreign participants.
Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, religious
organizations and sites in the city of Beijing received over
10, 000 participants from 103 countries and regions.
In 1998, a U.S. religious delegation led by
Rabbi Arthur Schneier, president of the Appeal of Conscience
Foundation, Archbishop Theodore McCarrick of the Newark
Roman Catholic Archdiocese, and Reverend Don Argue,
president of the National Association of Evangelicals,
visited China and was received by Chinese President Jiang
Zemin and Chairman Li Ruihuan of the National Committee of
the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
During his visit to China the same year, U.S.
President Bill Clinton went with his family to the
Chongwenmen Church in downtown Beijing to attend Sunday
As a sovereign state, China
has always held that its relations with other countries
should grow on the basis of friendship. Aliens conducting
any activities, including religious activities, within the
Chinese territory should naturally abide by China's laws and
regulations, and not undermine the country's public
interest, nor interfere in its internal affairs including
religious ones, nor preach or spread religious materials to
For those aliens that violate the
country's laws and regulations, Chinese law-enforcement
departments have every right to punish them according to
law. If this is regarded as limiting and monitoring aliens,
one would like to ask whether the United States allows
aliens to engage in unlawful activities within its
The report also accuses China of
"imposing restrictions on construction of new
mosques" in Xinjiang, and of having "arrested and
executed quite a few Moslems."
Moslems in Xinjiang have the complete right to enjoy freedom
of religious belief, and there are enough mosques in the
region to satisfy the religious needs of the Moslems.
Only a few ethnic separatists have been
punished by Chinese law enforcement departments for the
violence and terrorist activities they have committed, which
has nothing to do with their religious belief.
Xinjiang is a region with quite a few ethnic
Islamic groups that densely populate part of the region.
Under the system of ethnic regional autonomy,
the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has been established to
ensure regional ethnic autonomy, and people in the region
fully enjoy their right of religious belief as protected by
There are nine million Moslems in
Xinjiang, accounting for half of all the Moslems in China,
but the number of mosques in the region totals 23,000 and
represents two-thirds of the total in China, or one mosque
for every 200 Moslems. More than 30,000 Moslems in Xinjiang
have gone on the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia in
The great majority of Islamic
people in Xinjiang and other religious believers there are
patriotic and law-abiding and conduct their religious
activities as permitted by laws and regulations and
Generally speaking, the
situation in Xinjiang can be characterized as one of
stability and unity among the different ethnic groups.
Terrorist activities in the past few years such as murders
and bombings committed by a very small number of ethic
separatists who use Islam as a camouflage have caused great
indignation among the Moslems of various ethnic groups who
strongly oppose such violence.
In order to
maintain stability and unity in Xinjiang and assure the
safety and normal life of local Moslems, the local
government has stood firmly against religious extremism and
has cracked down on violence and terrorist activities in
accordance with law, and as requested by the local people
The effort made by the government,
therefore, is fully justified, as separatist activity would
in no way be tolerated by any country in the world, and
would be dealt with firmly.
The authors of the
report, who regard as abnormal the legally justifiable
punishment against the very small number of separatists and
terrorists, went on to make accusations against China.
Judging by their accusations, people can see very clearly
what they support and what they oppose.
report does not mind taking the trouble to list many
"individual" issues in a bid to accuse China of
conducting what it calls religious persecution.
As a matter of fact, the Chinese government is
committed to freedom of religious belief. And the Chinese
Constitution and laws provide Chinese citizens full
guarantees for freedom of religious belief and legal
religious activity, therefore there is no question of an
issue of religious persecution.
Chinese Constitution, every Chinese citizen enjoys equal
rights and obligations in the eyes of the law, and any
person who commits any criminal act is subject to criminal
prosecution regardless of their religious belief.
No single person in China has been or will be
detained or imprisoned simply because of their religious
beliefs or their legal religious activities. On the
contrary, stipulations have been made within China's
criminal laws saying that any government employee who
illegally deprives any citizens of their freedom of
religious belief is subject to up to two-year imprisonment,
or criminal detention according to the seriousness of the
case. But those who use religion as a camouflage for illegal
activities will be dealt with firmly according to law.
Some cults have existed in parts of China in
recent years whose leading members spread misinformation
using religion as a camouflage to deceive the general
public, swindle money and property from people, and sexually
exploit women. These people are hated bitterly by the
general public and religious people. Taking legal action
against the leading members according to law is meant to rid
the people of a scourge and benefit the community.
As a matter of fact, there is no country in
the world which allows illegal and criminal activities in
the name of religion. One has to ask why it was quite
reasonable for the United States to ban the Branch Davidian
cult a few years ago, and Japan to outlawed the Aum
Shinrikyo religious cult, while China is being accused of
"persecuting religious people" simply because it
banned some cults?
While ignoring its own
problems, including religious ones, the United States has
been making purely fictitious and improper comments about
China's religious affairs, willfully vilifying China, and
even threatening sanctions and demanding that China amend
its laws in a way preferred by the United States.
The key point at issue is the United States
using the freedom of religion as a camouflage to grossly
interfere in China's internal affairs, which is absolutely
unacceptable to the Chinese government and people.
The U.S. government must immediately put an
end to interfering in China's internal affairs through the
use of the so-called religious issue.