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Top advisor: Religion "can promote harmony"

Source: China Daily | 03-04-2008 09:04

Special Report:   2008 NPC & CPPCC sessions

BEIJING, March 4 -- The nation's top political advisor pledged to use religion for promoting social harmony on Monday.

"We should fully follow the policy on freedom of religious belief, implement the regulations on religious affairs, and conduct thorough research on important and difficult issues related to religion," said Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

"We should guide religious leaders and believers to improve their lives, and make full use of their positive role in promoting social harmony," he said in a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the first session of the 11th CPPCC National Committee.

The number of Buddhists, Taoists and Christians has been on the rise in recent years, religious officials say, and the central government has been increasingly encouraging religion to play a role in promoting social development.

Figures from the State Administration for Religious Affairs suggest that there are more than 100 million believers in the country, mostly Buddhists, Taoists, Protestants, Catholics and Muslims.

Among them are 18 million Muslims, 10 million Protestants and 4 million Catholics.

Ding Wenfang, a member of the 11th National Committee of the CPPCC, said fellow members should strengthen national unity and promote religious harmony.

Ding, also vice president of the China Islamic Association, said: "The unity of the 56 ethnic groups in China and religious harmony are necessary to build a harmonious society."

Jia also stressed that the CPPCC needs to "maintain close ties with members of the emerging social strata, such as private entrepreneurs, accountants and lawyers".

"We should show concern for their interests, open up channels for them to articulate their views, and guide them to conscientiously assume social responsibilities and effectively promote socialist development with Chinese characteristics."

He also urged political advisors to join hands with Taiwan people in opposing and containing secessionist activities.

The first session of the 11th CPPCC National Committee started in the Great Hall of the People yesterday afternoon, with 2,195 members in attendance.

They will discuss major issues related to national development during the annual session scheduled to conclude on March 14.


Editor:Zhang Ning