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Full text:China's Policies and Practices on Protecting Freedom of Religious Belief

White Paper
The State Council Information Office of China issued a white paper titled "China's Policies and Practices on Protecting Freedom of Religious Belief" on Tuesday.

China SCIOUpdated: April 4, 2018

V. Active and Healthy Religious Relations

Relations between the Party/government and religious groups, society and religion, different religions within the country, religions of China and foreign countries, and religious believers and non-believers are properly handled in China. This has enabled active and healthy religious relations to take shape.

Harmony between the Party/government and religious groups.The CPC adheres to the principle of "uniting and cooperating politically, and respecting each other's beliefs" in the handling of relations with religious groups, and maintains good relations with religious circles. They have formed a consolidated patriotic united front. At present, approximately 20,000 prominent figures from the religious circles serve as deputies and members at all levels of people's congresses and committees of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, and participate in the deliberation and administration of state affairs and exercising democratic oversight. Since 1991, Party and state leaders have held annual seminars before the Spring Festival with heads of national religious groups to listen to their opinions and suggestions. Mechanisms have been established between Party and government leaders and religious personages across the country to help enhance mutual understanding and friendship.

Social tolerance towards religions. Religious conflict and confrontation have rarely been seen in China since the introduction of Buddhism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism over the past 2,000 years. The state and the society have maintained an open mind towards diverse religions and folk beliefs, and respect both freedom of religious belief and diversity of folk beliefs. Religious groups carry on the longstanding tradition whereby religions in China must be Chinese in orientation, and actively adapt to society. They also carry on the fine traditions of patriotism, unity, progress, service to society, harmony, and inclusiveness. Religious groups conscientiously safeguard national and social public interests, public order and good customs, and fulfill social responsibility. In 2016, Chinese religious groups organized peaceful prayer services across the country to commemorate the 71st anniversary of victory in the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the Second World War, and call for the maintenance of ethnic solidarity, national stability and world peace.

Active exchanges and dialogues between different religions. Throughout history, different religions in China have blended together and drawn lessons from one another to become an integral part of traditional Chinese culture. In modern times, different religions respect and learn from each other, and take part in exchanges and dialogues, and a new realm of "five religions (Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism) working together to achieve harmony" has taken shape. National and local religious groups have established a mechanism of joint conferences to discuss issues concerning religious relations, creating modes of religious dialogue with Chinese characteristics and enhancing mutual understanding and friendship.

Extensive international religious exchanges. Chinese religious groups have established friendly relations with religious organizations in more than 80 countries based on the principles of independence, equality, friendship, and mutual respect, and played an active part in international conferences involving diverse cultures, beliefs and religions. Chinese religious groups participate extensively in activities run by international organizations including the World Council of Churches, World Fellowship of Buddhists, Muslim World League, and World Conference on Religion and Peace, as well as conferences set up by the United Nations Human Rights Council, and bilateral and multilateral dialogues on human rights. Chinese religious groups have responded actively to the Belt and Road Initiative, working to promote closer ties between people and the linking up of cultures. Chinese Buddhist and Taoist communities have held four World Buddhist Forums and four International Taoism Forums respectively, which have become important international platforms for the communication of Buddhism and Taoism both at home and abroad. The China Islamic Association organized the China Islamic Culture Expo & Art Show in Turkey and Malaysia in 2012 and 2014 respectively. Chinese and American Protestant organizations held the Second China-USA Protestant Church Leaders Forum in Shanghai in 2013, and the China-U.S. Church Symposium in the U.S. in 2017. In 2016, the China Islamic Association, China Christian Council, Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, Bishops Conference of Catholic Church in China and Union Evangelical Churches in Germany jointly hosted the China-Germany Inter-religious Dialogue – Peace & Sharing in Germany. Since China's adoption of reform and opening up in 1978, Chinese religious groups have sent more than 1,000 people abroad to study.

Harmony between religious believers and non-believers. Citizens who do not hold any religious belief respect the freedom of others to practice religion, and do not discriminate against them; religious believers respect those who do not believe in any religion. In regions where the majority of citizens are non-believers, the legitimate rights of minority religious believers are respected and protected; in regions where the majority of citizens are religious believers, the legitimate rights of the minority who are non-believers are equally respected and protected.

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