The deputy minister of the United Front Work Department of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has insisted that China’s religious affairs cannot be dominated by any foreign powers.
With a new round of Sino-Vatican negotiations expected to resume in September, Wang Zuoan, who is also director of the State Administration of Religious Affairs, wrote an article in the latest issue of CCP journal Qiushi.
In the article published on Aug. 17, Wang stressed the importance of six points — adhering to guidance of religion, the direction of Sinicization, building a positive and healthy religious relationship, maintaining the rule of law to promote religious work, supporting the religious community to strengthen its own construction, and strengthening the party’s centralized and unified leadership over religious work.
He said the Sinicization of religions was an important task, of which the most fundamental was that “the religious world must support the leadership of the CCP” and that it should guide all religions to have political consciousness, cultural integration and social adaption to Chinese socialism, “actively resisting foreign infiltration via religions and resolutely curbing the influence of foreign religious extreme thoughts.”
Wang believed the relationship between the state and the church was at the core. It was important to uphold the party’s leadership, consolidate its ruling status, adhere to the separation of politics and religion, keep religion separate from administration, justice and education, and adhere to the government’s management of religious affairs involving the public interest of the state and society.
He also reiterated that all Chinese religions should adhere to the principle of independence and self-management, emphasizing that “China’s religion does not have affiliation with foreign religions, and our religious groups and religious affairs are not dominated by any foreign powers.”
Wang said the revised regulations on religious affairs, which took effect on Feb. 2, should be elevated to laws and ordinances in due course.
He also reiterated that talent cultivation was a key issue in religious work. It was necessary to adhere to the standard of “politically reliable, religiously accomplished, morally convincing and critical” people.
Wang said the United Front Work Department would manage religious work, while party and government departments, trade unions, the Communist Youth League, Women’s Federation and other social organizations had to closely cooperate.
Meanwhile, Kung Kao Po, the Hong Kong diocesan weekly, published an editorial on Aug. 19 saying that the Sino-Vatican agreement on the appointment of bishops will be signed in October.
The editorial reiterated that the Holy See had made it clear in the past that China and the Vatican hold different views on many issues, but the content of the agreement was related to the scope and issues that both parties could agree to. It also stressed that the Holy See believed that the biggest reason for the negotiation agreement was dialogue, otherwise it meant losing the opportunity to exchange views.
“If you succumb to the requirements of the Chinese government, then the church may be hurt because the mainland government does not care about the church or its development anyway,” the editorial said.
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