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Vigorously Exploring Modes for Administration of Foreign Religious Affairs
07/18/2018 United Times

On July 5, the delegation of the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Ethnic and Religious Affairs inspected Changning District, visiting the religious sites and holding a symposium to listen to opinions and suggestions. Fang Jiansen, deputy director of the United Front Work Department of the Municipal Party Committee and Party group chief of the Municipal Commission of Ethnic and Religious Affairs, participated in the inspection.

At Fuyuan Zen Temple, after learning the details of the new site of the temple, the delegation pointed out that the relocation and reconstruction of the Fuyuan Zen Temple was aimed at meeting the requirement for rational distribution of the religious site. With the area of the new site increased, the temple has to shoulder more significant missions and responsibilities. Therefore, it is necessary to target higher standards, broaden the horizons, strengthen the study, and constantly improve the religious attainments of the temple personnel and the level of temple management, so as to better unite and guide the believers in actively participating in the economic and social construction of Changning.

Later, the delegation held a symposium on “Changning District’s Work Experience in Foreign Religious Affairs” at Xinjingtang Church. Attending the symposium were directors of Changning District Committee of Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China and the China Christian Council, convener of Hongqiao special Christian English service, convener of Xinjingtang (international) special Cantonese service, chief of Caojiadu Church special French Mass and other participants.

The delegation made the following requirements for administration of the foreign religious affairs in Changning: we should always adhere to the Party's policy of freedom of religious belief, which is the premise and starting point of all work. China respects the freedom of religious belief of citizens and protects normal religious activities, and we also protect foreign religion believers’ legitimate religious activities in China according to law; we should always stick to the China-characterized and law-based path for the religions, and cultivate the citizens' civic awareness, patriotism and lover of the religion and awareness of consciously obeying laws and regulations; we should energetically direct the religions’ adaptation to the socialist society, the religious representatives should actively guide the religious believers in taking the right path, and all religions should enhance exchanges and interactions so as to create a lively situation in which all religions coexist and support each other with mutual cooperation; we should focus on and strengthen the cultivation of religious figures and strive to cultivate religious personages who are politically reliable, religiously accomplished and respected for virtue, and can play an important role at a critical moment.

Fang recognized the work of Changning in ethnic and religious affairs. He said that Changning is characterized by rapid economic and social development, a solid economic foundation, a high degree of openness, and a relatively high level of cultural and overall development. Changning District has made outstanding achievements in foreign religious affairs, protection of rights and other areas, which have resulted from the concerted efforts made by the united front work department, the officials of ethnic and religious affairs, the religious groups and the believers in the district, with a lot of experience worth summing up and promoting.

In an international metropolis like Shanghai, how should we meet the reasonable and legitimate religious demands of the religious believers, including the foreigners? How should we contribute to the building of a “global city of excellence” through the efforts of ethnic and religious affairs? In Shanghai 30% of the foreign expats reside in Changning, accounting for about 10% of the total resident population in the district. Fang believed that in the whole country, Shanghai should take the lead to pilot the law-based administration of foreign religious affairs, and in Shanghai, Changning should make the attempt first.

Fang also hoped that religious groups, religious leaders, religious believers and relevant government departments could make joint efforts, give full play to their own roles, and provide more practices and experiences that can be replicated and promoted in vigorously exploring the modes of administration of foreign religious affairs that adapt to the characteristics of the downtown area in such an international metropolis, so as to deliver quality and efficient guarantee for religious services in Shanghai’s efforts to accelerate the creation of an international, law-based and convenient business environment.

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