Asia

Official Chinese Newspaper Publishes Call to Change Religion Policy

Religious freedom experts are surprised and cautiously optimistic, but disagree on proposal.

A leading Chinese religious scholar called the country ready for "an institutional guarantee for the legality and equality of all religions," according to a December article in China Daily, the official government English language newspaper. Religious freedom experts say they are cautiously optimistic about the public pronouncement.

In an interview, Chinese entrepreneur, researcher and religion expert Liu Peng called for a "system [to] be developed in such a way as to let more religious affairs be governed by law, instead of through administrative means." All religious groups should be provided with equal and standard access for legal registration, he said.

The article signals that policy debate has outgrown academic or church circles and entered the public square, said Carol Hamrin, senior associate at the Global China Center and editor of Salt and Light: Lives of Faith that Shaped Modern China. "It is quite significant that this official government newspaper would publish this interview, ...

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