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The CCP’s Management of Religions during the 11th Five-Year Plan

[Editor’s Note: People’s Daily published an article by the State Administration for Religious Affairs that reviews the CCP’s policies and decisions in the area of managing religion during the period of the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010). It stated that the “The Central Committee (of the Chinese Communist Party [CCP]) pointed out … having the right understanding and handling of affairs relating to religion … is critical to the development and long-term stability of the Party and the nation. The CCP’s achievements during the period included starting to use the “Regulations on Religious Affairs” as the main vehicle to regulate and manage religious groups, directing religious practitioners to adjust their religious beliefs to conform to socialist theory, developing new religious leaders, using religious groups around the world to promote the CCP’s religious ideology, and taking control of issues regarding international religious affairs. The following are highlights of the report.] [1]

During the period of the 11th Five-Year Plan, (the CCP) followed the scientific development concept to implement the Party’s principles with regard to religion and to thoroughly implement the “Regulations on Religious Affairs” in order to promote a harmonious relationship between religions and the CCP.

1. Deepening Understanding of the Importance of the CCP’s Role in Managing Religions

The Party’s Seventeenth Congress advised that Party members should fully implement the Party’s principles with regard to religion, completely implement the Party’s policy on freedom of religious belief, manage religious affairs according to the law, insist on the principles of independence and self-management, and proactively direct religious practices to adapt themselves to socialist society.

The Central Committee has pointed out that the (Party’s) relationship with religions is critical to the Party’s and the nation’s work. Having a correct understanding of and a right approach to handling the relationship with different religions and maintaining a harmonious relationship with religions is important to the whole overview of socialism with Chinese characteristics, to the development of a harmonious socialist society, and to the development and long-term stability of the Party and the nation.

Handling religious people well is the fundamental goal of the Party’s work with religions. We should thoroughly convey our ideology so that religious people earnestly support the CCP’s leadership and the socialist system; firmly recognize the nation, citizenship, and the law; and willingly safeguard national unification, ethnic unity, and social stability.

The Party’s cadres, especially those in key positions, have developed a better understanding of working with religions, and their ability to manage this work has greatly improved. Party organizations at all levels have paid more attention to this work. The system of “The Party committee in charge, the Party and the government jointly managing together, with the religious work office coordinating, and the entire society participating” was gradually established during this period.

2. Significantly Increased Capability in Managing by Law

The publication of the “Regulations on Religious Affairs” has greatly advanced the use of law in managing religions.

The regulations made it clear that the office in charge of religious affairs does law enforcement. We have achieved great success in using legal means to resolve the challenges in dealing with religions and in defending against overseas infiltration through the use of religion. Using the law is the main approach in the administration of religions.

Through the use of an extensive legal education program and training on the “Regulations on Religious Affairs,” religious leaders and the majority of religious people have greatly improved in following the law. They are more proactive in conducting their religious activities within the boundaries of the law, they use legal means to protect their own rights, and they resist any activity that uses religion to hurt ethnic unity or social stability or to commit other crimes.

3. Developing Patriotic Religious Groups

Following the main theme of promoting social harmony, we directed different religious entities (Islam, Christian, Catholic, Buddhism, and Taoism) to find advanced content in their religious ideologies, doctrines, and ethics that would develop a more solid ideological foundation for their religions to adapt to socialist society.

To effectively implement “Regulations on Religious Affairs,” we directed each national religious group to develop over 10 regulations to identify religious personnel, manage religious sites, and make appointments to key religious posts.

Following the requirements of “politically reliable, intellectually accomplished, and morally able to convince the people,” we introduced training to develop the personnel who teach religion. We made a special effort to develop young, patriotic religious people (who support the CCP). All national religious groups have completed the transition to a younger generation of leaders.

4. Religious Exchanges Overseas

During the 11th Five-Year Plan, the different religious entities played a special role through private religious diplomacy to serve our country’s unification.

Following the principles of “Non-subordination, Non-interference, and Mutual Respect,” the religious groups actively held friendly exchanges with religious groups in Hong Kong and Macao and strengthened religious exchanges with Taiwan.

We innovated in the area of religious outreach approaches and tried new religious foreign exchange channels. We held a “Chinese Church Bible Ministry Exhibition” in the U.S. and Germany, a “Sino-Singapore Religious Culture Exhibit” in Singapore, and a “Sino-Indonesia 2010 Islam Culture Exhibit” in Indonesia. We formed a large Buddhist Symphony to play “Divine Land, Harmonious Music” in several countries and regions. All of these were to promote our policy of freedom of religion and religious harmony.

We have been more proactive in participating in international religious activities. Twice we held the World Buddhism Forum and the first International Taoism Forum. We participated in international conferences on dialogs among different religions in Asia and Europe, participated in activities organized by international organizations such as the World Council of Churches, the World Fellowship of Buddhists, and the World Conference on Religion and Peace. Through these activities, we promoted our proposals for building a harmonious world; advanced our peaceful, open, and inclusive image; and competed for the discourse right on international religious affairs.

We emphasized religious and human rights cooperation and dialogs. We participated in the United Nation’s Human Rights Council General Assembly and the bi-lateral or multi-lateral human rights dialogs between China and the U.S., China and Europe, China and Canada, China and the U.K., China and Macao, China and Germany, and China and Norway. We clarified our position on religious issues; countered Western countries’ attacks on our religious freedom; and sparred with logic, advantage, and restraint.

[1] Qiushi Journal, January 10, 2011