Religious affairs rules promulgated
The Religious Affairs Provisions, promulgated on November 30 with the approval of Premier Wen Jiabao, will formally come into effect on March 1, 2005.
The provisions, a set of comprehensive administrative rules concerning China's religious affairs, explicitly specifies that the legitimate rights of religious groups, religious sites and the religious people are protected. It also offers guidance on religious affairs involving state and the public interests.
The rules are regarded as a significant step forward in the protection of Chinese citizens' religious freedom.
China had two earlier provisions issued by the State Council in 1994 on the management of sites for religious activities and on foreign nationals' religious activities in China. The new provisions will supercede the former.
The new provisions are designed to deal with new situations and issues that have emerged in recent years with China's rapid socioeconomic development.
The drafting of the provisions has taken six full years, taking into account views and suggestions from people in law, religion and human rights.
With the Religious Affairs Provisions coming into effect, the early
provisions issued by the State Council on the management of sites for religious
activities in 1994 will simultaneously be abolished, whereas the provisions on
foreign nationals' religious activities in China issued in the same year remain