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(Compass) – Chinese officials meeting at a two-day international conference on religion and law on October 18 and 19 announced they were open to changes in religious policy. However, Ji Wenyuan, deputy director of the State Administration of Religious Affairs, said China ’s unique needs must be assessed first, and social stability and harmony must be the basis for any new laws. Ji’s cautious admonition of “change, but not yet” was borne out by a wave of arrests and raids carried out on Christian property in recent months. One ministry reported a sharp increase in persecution throughout September and October, with a large number of arrests. One Christian worker was beaten to death after she was arrested by police. Four printing presses were shut down within the space of a month when police discovered they were printing illegal Christian materials. However, when U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell met with government ministers on October 25, they assured him that China was willing to re-open the dialogue on human rights abuses.