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ICC NOTE: The Communist Party of China has agreed to proceed with the long-awaited summit on religion which has created fear among the religious communities. Currently, Christian churches must be registered with the state government to be an official church, otherwise the congregation faces major government backlash. The summit plans to focus on sweeping changes to its regulations on religious affairs. With their current history of human rights and religious persecution, the mystery surrounding the summit creates vast amounts of speculation. 

12/3/2015 China (UCA NEWS) – China’s ruling Communist Party has officially signaled that it will hold its long-awaited first summit on religion for 10 years in coming weeks, as it prepares to make sweeping changes to its regulations on religious affairs.

The meeting, which reports said could be chaired by party leader Xi Jinping, comes amid growing concerns by the party about surging interest in major religions including Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and its home-grown offshore Daoism.

There is also rising concern in Beijing about violent fundamentalism among ethnic Muslim Uighurs.

There are more than 100 million religious believers in China, with about 6 million Catholics and 23 million Protestants, according to government statistics. However, the figures are often disputed as underestimated.

Chen Zhongrong, vice director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA), told a meeting of religious officials Nov. 10 that the central government has planned to convene a national meeting on religious work this year.

Chinese authorities are revising the regulations on religious affairs, he said, according to a Nov. 20 report on SARA’s website.

The regulation was promulgated in 2005 following a party summit in 2001.

Chen said at the meeting that a key focus of the religious affairs department will be to implement the newly amended regulations through the intensive training of religious officials.

The Chinese government has been laying plans to revise the regulations since early this year with Yu Zhengsheng, one of Xi’s key party allies and chairman of the top advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, making three visits to the religious sectors.

In 50 days from January to March, he visited headquarters of the five officially recognized religions in Beijing, made a field trip to Baoding — a Catholic stronghold in Hebei — and participated for the first time in the discussion of the conference’s religious affairs committee.

The topic of adapting religions to the socialist country was the subject of a major speech by Xi in the first central meeting for the United Front Work Department in May.

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