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ICC Note: Stricter religious restrictions that are going to be imposed next February in China could have been one of the reasons for a ban on organized trip to Vatican, religious experts believe. So far, several traveling agencies have been told that Chinese customers should not go directly to Vatican. Travel agencies could be fined up to US$45,000 if they organize tours to Vatican. Expert fears that the current problem could widen to include visits from China to monasteries and other holy places.

12/4/2017 China (UCA News) – Travel agencies in China reportedly fear being fined up to US$45,000 if they organize Vatican tours.

But religious experts believe this could be the result of travel agencies and higher officials ‘self-imposing’ a ban in the light of new Religious Affairs Regulations coming into effect in February.

The regulations will impose stricter Communist Party government controls on religious organizations and practitioners across China.

Anthony Lam, a senior researcher at the Holy Spirit Study Centre of Hong Kong Diocese, said that uncertainty could arise from various broad provisions of the regulations.

Lam said the regulations transcend national security issues and are so harsh that agents and officials fear prosecution if they allow and help organize pilgrimages to the Vatican.

Several travel agencies told ucanews.com that they had been told verbally by government tourism officials that customers from China should not go “directly” to the Vatican.

Lam feared that the current problem could widen to include visits from China to monasteries and other holy places.

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