China has always engaged in protecting its citizens’ freedom of religious belief, a basic human right entrusted to citizens by the Constitution. Recently, a White Paper entitled “China’s Policies and Practices on Protecting Freedom of Religious Belief” was published by the State Council Information Office. With detailed data and numerous facts, it systematically introduces China’s policies and laws for guaranteeing freedom of religion and comprehensively covers new achievements made in religious work in China.
From the revised publication “Regulations on Religious Affairs” to the lawful crackdown on religious extremist forces and violent terrorist activities; from improving conditions at places of religious worship to improving the system of religious education; from protecting religious activities of foreigners within China to correcting behavior that disrupts the normal order in religious field , China has always insisted on implementing a policy of religious freedom, guaranteeing citizens’ right to religious belief, building positive and healthy religious relations, and maintaining harmony between religion and the society based on China’s own national conditions and religious practices.
The facts disclosed in the White Paper prove that Chinese citizens’ freedom of religious belief and the legitimate rights and interests of the religious community have been fully protected.
The key to fully respecting and protecting religious freedom lies in utilizing legal thinking and methods to effectively strengthen the capacity for management of religious affairs. Since the 18th National Congress, the Central Committee of Chinese Communist Party has comprehensively promoted the development of law governance, incorporating religious work into the national system of governance. With continuous improvement to the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics, the level of legal protection for the freedom of religious belief is continuously being enhanced. The government’s management of religious affairs is becoming more standardized, and the legitimate rights and interests of religious followers are more comprehensively and effectively protected. Through unremitting efforts, China has embarked on a successful path of protecting religious freedoms in accordance with the law, promoting harmonious religious relations, and playing a positive role in the religious community.
Religious work is essentially public work. Xi Jinping, General Secretary of CPC emphasized that “religious matters have always been major issues that our Party has had to manage when governing the country. Religious work is of special importance in the overall work of the Party and country, as it affects the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics, social harmony, ethnic unity, national security, and the unification of the motherland.” Maximizing the unity of religious and non-religious people is the starting point and ultimate objective for implementing policies of religious freedom.
Religion is an integral part of human civilization. Ensuring religious freedom and forming an active, healthy relationship with religion are common issues faced by countries all around the world. In respecting and safeguarding citizens’ freedom of religious belief, the “Chinese experience” and “Chinese wisdom” will bring more useful revelations to all humanity.