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China Religions and Building a Community of Shared Future for Mankind:Idea and Practice
China Religions and Building a Community of Shared Future for Mankind:Idea and Practice
 

ZHANG Nu, Deputy Director of Integrated Research Department of China Center for Religious Studies
 
China is a country where multiple religions co-exist harmoniously. Chinese government adheres to the principle of separation between church and state, and emphases on treating all religions equally, that means not to use administrative power to limit or advance any particular religion. There are five major religions in China today: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, the Catholicism and Protestantism. All of them can claim long history and profound influence in china, with an estimated 200 million Chinese followers in total. Among the five main religions, there are about 5500 religious bodies and 140,000 sites of religious activities, both of which distribute widely across China.
 
The Chinese government has consistently upheld protection of freedom of religion, to which the Chinese Constitution and laws provide firm support as a fundamental human rights. All relevant laws refer to the Constitutional principle on freedom of religion in making stipulations on particular religious affairs. The Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China, Article 251 provides the legal basis for handling case of infringement on religious freedom. The article says:“Any state functionary who unlawfully deprives a citizen of his freedom of religious belief or infringes upon the customs and habits of minority nationalities shall, if the circumstances are serious, be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than two years or criminal detention.” In addition, the Regulations on Religious Affairs offer recognition and protection of the rights and interests of the religious organizations and their followers. 
 
Also for the past decades, the Chinese government has dedicated to providing the religious with public service. During the last 10 years, the Chinese central government has invested more than 200 million RMB to support maintaining and upgrading historical temples mosques and churches. Since 2011 this kind of budget has been  risen to 30 million RMB each year,it's more than 4 million us dollars a year. The government agencies help the religious organizations to improve infrastructure of traffic,internet,electricity, and water supply.China's social security system has fully covered the religious, specifically,those qualified clergies are provided with subsistence allowance. It has been commonly recognized in the Chinese religious that the nearly four decades since China's Opening and Reform is the “golden age” for Chinese religions in their long history.  
 
With the effective protection of freedom of religion and the lawful rights and interests of the religious from the Chinese government, the Chinese religious is enabled to play a more effective and important role. The Chinese religious completely approve of the noble ideal of building a community of shared future for mankind, and is ready to be actively involved in this great project. 
 
The idea of building a community of shared future for mankind has been integral to the thoughts of all the five main religions in China. The Chinese culture believes in “harmony in diversity” and that “tolerance makes greatness” and is naturally encompassing and open. Traditionally, the beliefs and sentiments of the Chinese are more in tune with Confucian ideas, but are also open to Buddhist and Taoist influences. In the meantime, Islam, Christianity, Shamanism, various ethnic religions as well as folk religions have been able to coexist and grow. In fact among today's five major religions in china, only Taoism is native, while all others were imported. During their introduction to and popularization in China, them have integrated into the Chinese society and adopted distinct Chinese characters and features. Here I will mention three main points. 
 
1.A holistic view of human being and the universe. The Confucian ethics emphasize that a good man should take the heaven and earth and everything as one body. Ecological awareness and responsibilities are commonly stressed across Chinese religious traditions for the protection of the world, which is our common home.
 
2.All under heaven are of one family. The traditional “under the heaven” point of view of the Chinese religions transcends the boundaries of races, nations or other groupings. A famous Confucian maxim says that “the people are all my brothers and I share the life of all creatures”. Historically, the growth and spread of Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism in East Asia has been overall peaceful, without religious war breaking out for their reason.
 
3.The wisdom of harmonizing via middle course. The key here is the idea of harmony in diversity, which translates into four points: A.we should recognize the fact that all peoples and nations are equal; B. recognize that civilizations are naturally diverse in their values and ways, which may co-exist without harming each other; C. mutual respect and tolerance,the chinese golden principal says “don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you”; D.moderatism rather than extreme thinking,conflicts can only be resolved in reconciliation.
 
With the support of the Chinese government, the Chinese religious have dedicated themselves to the efforts of building the community of shared future for mankind:
 
1.Enhanceing inter-culture and inter-religion dialogues for promoting international understanding and friendship. In history, the introduction and spread of such foreign religions as Buddhism, Islam and Christianity has promoted the cultural exchanges between China and the rest of the world. Today Chinese religious groups are in friendly exchanges with their counterparts in more than 80 countries in the world.
 
2.Engaging in charity. In 2012, 6 Chinese central government agencies jointly announced their support for China’s religious groups to play an active role in charity. Since then, the “Religious Charity Week” that involves the aforementioned five major religions has become an annual event, with its donation in funds and items that amount to an estimated total of over 1 billion RMB. Moreover, the charity works of Chinese religious groups have extended across national border. For instance, the Amity Foundation, an affiliate organization to China Christian Council, has operated for more than three decades and established its international office in Geneva and Addis Abeba, the capital of Ethopia.
 
3.Activating social harmony initiatives. Chinese Buddhist and Taoist groups have been working on reforming aspects of their religious activities to better protect the environment. Chinese Islamic groups have convened symposiums that advocate the thoughts of peace and moderate and denounce extremism. The Catholic church in china has been seeking to implement the teachings of the second Vatican Council. The Chinese protestant church have engaged in developing their theology that prepare Chinese christian for the country’s rapid development and fast social change with a more open and progressive stance.  

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