China to Reinforce Control over Religions

BEIJING, DEC. 14, 2001 ( President Jiang Zemin expressed support for the Chinese Communist Party´s control over religions in the country, the Beijing press reported Thursday.

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The Chinese leader gave an outline of his religious policy during a conference a day earlier.

The president´s speech was delivered in the midst of an aggressive campaign by the regime against Catholic communities in some regions which do not accept the state-controlled «patriotic» church, and against the Falun Gong group.

«Believers must love their country, support the socialist system and the direction of the Communist Party, and respect the laws of the country,» Jiang said, the People´s Daily reported.

«Religion must never be allowed when it opposes the direction of the party or the socialist system, or destroys national reunification or ethnic unity,» the president added.

Stressing that members of the Communist Party must be atheists, the Chinese president called for closer control of the people´s religious practices.

Those who are not Communist leaders, however, should benefit from «liberty of religious belief,» the president added.

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