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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

China (includes Hong Kong and Macau)


International Religious Freedom Report
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
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Reports on Hong Kong and Macau are appended at the end of this Report.)

(Note: The Tibetan Autonomous Region  (TAR) is discussed in a separate annex at the end of this report.)

The Constitution provides for freedom of religious belief and the freedom not to believe; however, the Government seeks to restrict religious practice to government-sanctioned organizations and registered places of worship and to control the growth and scope of the activity of religious groups.  Membership in many faiths is growing rapidly; however, while the Government generally does not seek to suppress this growth outright, it tries to control and regulate religious groups to prevent the rise of groups or sources of authority outside the control of the Government and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and cracks down on groups that it perceives to pose a threat. 

During the period covered by this report, the Government's respect for freedom of religion and freedom of conscience worsened, especially for some unregistered religious groups and spiritual movements such as the Falun Gong.  The Government intensified its repression of groups that it determined to be "cults" in general, and of the Falun Gong.  Various sources report that thousands of Falun Gong adherents have been arrested, detained, and imprisoned, and that approximately 100 or more Falun Gong adherents have died in detention since 1999.  The atmosphere created by the nationwide campaign against Falun Gong had a spillover effect on unregistered churches, temples, and mosques in many parts of the country.  Separately, under the guise of urban renewal and cracking down on unregistered places of worship, authorities in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province razed an unknown number of churches and temples in late 2000.  However, official persecution of underground Catholic and Protestant groups in southeastern China eased somewhat over the previous year.

In general unregistered religious groups continued to experience varying degrees of official interference, harassment, and repression.  Some unregistered religious groups, including Protestant and Catholic groups, were subjected to increased restrictions,including, in some cases, intimidation, harassment, and detention; however, the degree of restrictions varied significantly from region to region.  In some localities, authorities forced "underground" churches, temples and mosques to close.  In other localities, officials worked closely with Buddhist, Catholic, and Protestant groups building schools, medical facilities, and retirement centers for poor communities. In the latter cases, local officials frequently encouraged Western religious groups to work in their communities to provide much needed social services, provided that the groups did not openly proselytize, and kept their religious work low-key. 

Nevertheless, the basic policy of permitting apolitical religious activity to take place relatively unfettered in Government-approved sites remained unchanged.  Many religious adherents report that they are able to practice their faith in officially registered places of worship and to maintain contacts with coreligionists in other parts of the world without interference from the authorities.  Official sources, religious professionals, and members of both officially sanctioned and "underground" places of worship all report that the numbers of believers in the country continued to grow.

The communities of the five official religions--Buddhism, Islam, Taoism, Catholicism, and Protestantism--coexist without significant friction; however, in some parts of the country, relations between registered and unregistered Christian churches are tense.

The U.S. Embassy discusses religious freedom issues with the Government in the context of its overall dialog and policy of promoting human rights.  Despite the Government's decision to suspend the U.S.-China bilateral human rights dialog in May 1999, the Department of State, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, and the U.S. Consulates General in Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Shenyang made concerted efforts to encourage religious freedom.  In Washington and in Beijing, in public and in private, U.S. officials repeatedly urged the Government to respect citizens' rights to religious freedom.  U.S. officials protested and asked for further information about numerous individual cases of abuse.

In September 2000, the Secretary of State designated China a country of particular concern under the International Religious Freedom Act for particularly severe violations of religious freedom.

Section I.  Religious Demography

The country has a total area of 3.5 million square miles, and its population is approximately 1.3 billion.  According to an official government white paper, there are over 200 million religious adherents, representing a great variety of beliefs and practices.  Official figures from late 1997, the year for which most recent figures are available, indicate that there are at least 3,000 religious organizations, 300,000 clergy, and 74 training centers for clergy.  There also are more than 85,000 approved venues for religious activities.  Most religious adherents profess eastern faiths, but tens of millions adhere to Christianity.  Approximately 8 percent of the population are Buddhist, approximately 1.4 percent are Muslim, an estimated 0.4 percent belong to the official Catholic Church, an estimated 0.4 to 0.8 percent belong to the unofficial Vatican-affiliated Catholic Church, an estimated 0.8 to 1.2 percent are registered Protestants, and an estimated 2.4 to 6.5 percent worship in Protestant house churches that are independent of government control.  There are no available estimates on the number of Taoists; however, according to a 1997 government publication, there are over 10,000 Taoist monks and nuns and over 1,000 Taoist temples.

Widespread traditional folk religions (worship of local gods, heroes, and ancestors) have been revived and are tolerated to varying degrees as loose affiliates of Taoism or ethnic minority cultural practice.   However, at the same time, folk religions have been labeled as "feudal superstition" and are sometimes repressed.

Buddhists make up the largest body of organized religious believers.  The Government estimates that there are more than 100 million Buddhists, most of whom are from the dominant Han ethnic group.  However, it is difficult to estimate accurately the number of Buddhists because they do not have congregational memberships and often do not participate in public ceremonies.  The Government reports that there are 13,000 Buddhist temples and monasteries and more than 200,000 nuns and monks.

According to government figures, there are 20 million Muslims, 35,000 Islamic places of worship, and more than 45,000 imams nationwide. 

The unofficial, Vatican-affiliated Catholic Church claims a membership far larger than the 5 million persons registered with the official Catholic Church.  Precise figures are difficult to determine, but Vatican officials have estimated that there are as many as 10 million adherents.  According to official figures, the government-approved Catholic Church has 69 bishops, 5,000 clergy, and approximately 5,000 churches and meeting houses.  There are thought to be some 37  bishops operating "underground," 10-15 of whom may now be in prison or under house arrest.  There are approximately 60,000 Catholic baptisms each year.

The Government maintains that there are between 10 and 15 million registered Protestants, 18,000 clergy, over 12,000 churches, and approximately 25,000 registered Protestant meeting places.  According to foreign experts, approximately 30 million persons worship in Protestant house churches that are independent of government control.

Estimates of the number of Falun Gong practitioners vary widely; the Government claims that there may be as many as 2.1 million adherents of Falun Gong (or Wheel of the Law), also known as Falun Dafa.  Followers of Falun Gong estimate that there are over 100 million adherents worldwide.  Some experts estimate that the true number of Falun Gong adherents in China is in the tens of millions.  Falun Gong blends aspects of Taoism, Buddhism, and the meditation techniques and physical exercises of qigong (a traditional Chinese exercise discipline) with the teachings of Falun Gong leader Li Hongzhi, (a native of China who currently is living abroad).  Despite the spiritual content of some of Li's teachings, Falun Gong does not consider itself a religion and has no clergy or places of worship.

Section II.  Status of Religious Freedom

Legal/Policy Framework

The Constitution provides for freedom of religious belief and the freedom not to believe; however, the Government seeks to restrict religious practice to government-sanctioned organizations and registered places of worship, and to control the growth and scope of the activity of religious groups. 

The Criminal Law states that government officials who deprive citizens of religious freedom may, in serious cases, be sentenced to up to 2 years in prison; however, there are no known cases of persons being punished under this statute.

The State reserves to itself the right to register and thus to allow to operate particular religious groups and spiritual movements.  There are five officially recognized religions: Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Islam, and Taoism.  For each faith there is a government-affiliated association that monitors and supervises its activities.  The State Council's Religious Affairs Bureau (RAB) is responsible for monitoring and judging the legitimacy of religious activity.  The RAB and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) United Front Work Department (UFWD), both of which are staffed by officials who rarely, if ever, are religious adherents, provide policy "guidance and supervision" on the implementation of government regulations on religious activity, including the role of foreigners in religious activity.

There are six requirements for the registration of "venues for religious activity":  possession of a physical site; citizens who are religious believers and who regularly take part in religious activity; an organized governing board; a minimum number of followers; a set of operating rules; and a legal source of income.  The Government officially permits only those churches affiliated with either the Catholic Patriotic Association or the (Protestant) Three-Self Patriotic Movement/Chinese Christian Council to operate legally.  Some groups register voluntarily, some register under pressure, and the uthorities refuse to register others.  Unofficial groups claimed that authorities often refuse them registration without explanation.  The Government contends that these refusals are mainly the result of these groups' lack of adequate facilities.  Some religious groups have been reluctant to comply with the regulations out of principled opposition to state control of religion or due to fear of adverse consequences if they reveal, as required, the names and addresses of church leaders.  In some areas, efforts to register unauthorized groups are carried out by religious leaders and civil affairs officials.  In other regions, police and RAB officials, concurrently with other law enforcement agencies, perform registration.

The Government has banned all groups that it has determined to be cults, including the Falun Gong and the Zhong Gong movements.  After the Criminal Law came into effect in 1997, offenses related to membership in unapproved religious groups were classified as crimes disturbing the social order.  Most experts attribute the subsequent sharp rise in trials for this category of crimes to the new classification.

The Government took some steps during the period covered by this report to show respect for the country's Muslims, such as offering congratulations on major Islamic holidays.  The Government permits, and in some cases subsidizes, Muslim citizens who make the Hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca.  According to official government statistics, more than 45,000 Muslims have made the trip to Mecca via neighboring countries, especially Pakistan, in recent years; 5000 in 1998, the last year for which such statistics are available.  There have been nongovernmental reports that fewer persons participated in 1999 and 2000; according to some estimates, less than 2,500 persons made the Hajj in each of those years.  According to some reports, the major limiting factors for participation in the Hajj were the cost and controls on passport issuance.

Restrictions on Religious Freedom

During the period covered by this report, the Government's respect for religious freedom and freedom of conscience worsened, especially for members of some unregistered religious groups and spiritual movements such as the Falun Gong.  The Government intensified its repression of the Falun Gong spiritual movement and "cults" in general.  The atmosphere created by the nationwide campaign against Falun Gong had a spillover effect on unregistered churches, temples, and mosques in many parts of the country.  The Government tends to perceive unregulated religious gatherings or groups as a potential challenge to its authority.  During the period covered by this report, the Government also moved against houses of worship outside its control that grew too large or espoused beliefs that it considered threatening to "state security."  Police closed "underground" mosques, temples, and seminaries, as well as large numbers of Catholic churches, and Protestant "house churches," many with significant memberships, properties, financial resources, and networks, and banned groups that it considered to be "cults."  An unknown number of places of worship and roadside shrines were destroyed, primarily in Wenzhou.

Overall, the basic policy of permitting apolitical religious activity to take place relatively unfettered in government-approved sites remained unchanged.  Official sources, religious professionals, and members of both officially sanctioned and "underground" places of worship all report that the number of religious adherents in the country continued to grow.  While the Government generally does not seek to suppress this growth outright, it attempts to control and regulate religious groups to prevent the rise of groups or sources of authority outside the control of Government and the CCP.  The Government also makes demands on the clergy or leadership of registered groups, requiring, for example, that they publicly endorse government policies, or denounce Falun Gong.

The Government officially permits only those churches affiliated with either the Catholic Patriotic Association or the (Protestant) Three-Self Patriotic Movement/Chinese Christian Council to operate legally.  Official tolerance for religions considered to be traditionally Chinese, such as Buddhism and Taoism, has been greater than that for Christianity, and these faiths often face fewer restrictions than the other recognized religions.  However, as these non-Western faiths have grown rapidly in recent years, there are now signs of greater government concern and new restrictions, especially on syncretic sects (sects that blend tenets from a number of beliefs).

In 1999 the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress adopted a decision to ban all groups the Government determined to be "cults," including the Falun Gong, under Article 300 of the Criminal Law.  The Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate also provided "explanations" on applying existing criminal law to the Falun Gong.  The law, as applied following these actions, specifies prison terms of 3 to 7 years for "cult" members who "disrupt public order" or distribute publications.  Under the law, cult leaders and recruiters may be sentenced to 7 years or more in prison.

During the period covered by this report, government restrictions on the Falun Gong spiritual movement continued.  There were many thousands of cases throughout the year of individuals receiving criminal, administrative, and extrajudicial punishment for practicing Falun Gong, admitting that they believed in Falun Gong, or simply refusing to denounce the organization or its founder.

Authorities and experts also wrote many articles characterizing the rise of religious groups that failed to register and "cults" such as Falun Gong as part of a plot by the West to undermine Chinese authority.  In February, Zhang Xinying, vice chairman of the Chinese Society of Religious Studies, said that the rise of "cults" was due to the frequent abuse of the concept of "religious freedom" by "some people with ulterior motives."  Senior Chinese leaders made similar comments, in the context of condemning Falun Gong.

The Authorities also continued their general crackdown on other groups considered to be "cults," such as Xiang Gong, Guo Gong, and Zhong Gong Qigong groups, some of which reportedly had a following comparable to that of the Falun Gong.

The Government continued, and in some places intensified, a national campaign to enforce 1994 State Council regulations and subsequent provincial regulations that require all places of religious activity to register with government religious affairs bureaus and come under the supervision of official, "patriotic" religious organizations.  There is a great deal of variation in how local authorities deal with unregistered religious groups.  In certain regions, government supervision of religious activity is minimal, and registered and unregistered churches are treated similarly by the authorities, existing openly side by side.  In such areas, many congregants worship in both types of churches.  In other regions, particularly where considerable unofficial and official religious activity takes place, local implementing regulations call for strict government oversight of religion, and authorities have cracked down on unregistered churches and their members.  Implementing regulations, provincial work reports, and other government and Party documents continued to exhort officials to enforce vigorously government policy regarding unregistered churches. 

Underground Protestants and Catholics in the northern and central parts of the country, especially in Beijing, Henan, Hebei, Shaanxi, and Shanxi, reported an increase in efforts to force them to register.  Police continued their efforts to close down an underground evangelical group called the "Shouters," an offshoot of a pre-1949 indigenous Protestant group.  However, the situation in the southern province of Guangdong improved somewhat during the second half of 2000, following a period of harassment of house churches earlier in the year.  Harassment of underground Catholic Churches that occurred in late 1999 and early 2000 in the southeastern province of Fujian, subsided during the period covered by this report.

Local officials destroyed some unregistered places of worship during the year.  In late 2000, in the central coastal city of Wenzhou, in Zhejiang Province, officials razed or closed an unknown number of unregistered places of worship.   NGO's report that hundreds of places of worship were demolished.  Local officials claimed that they had destroyed the churches as part of an urban renewal campaign and a crackdown on unregistered places of worship.  However, a government notice posted at the site of at least one church demolition cited the Government's anti-cult law for the action. Authorities maintained that properly registered places of worship would be rebuilt elsewhere.  However, observers have noted that a number of the razed churches and temples were not in areas undergoing urban renewal and that many of the buildings had existed for more than 50 years.  In addition, local authorities have destroyed thousands of local shrines dedicated to traditional folk religion.

There are reports that, despite the rapidly growing religious population, it is difficult to register new places of worship even for the five officially recognized faiths.  The Government has restored or rebuilt churches, temples, mosques, and monasteries damaged or destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, and allowed the reopening of some seminaries, although implementation of restoration activity has varied from locality to locality.  However, there are far fewer temples, churches, or mosques than existed 35 years ago.   Some observers cite the lack of adequate meeting space in registered churches as an explanation for the rapid rise in attendance at house churches and "underground" churches.

Many family churches, which generally are made up of family members and friends, conduct activities similar to those of home Bible study groups, and are tolerated by the authorities as long as they remain small and unobtrusive.  Family churches reportedly encounter difficulties when their memberships become too large, when they arrange for the use of facilities for the specific purpose of conducting religious activities, or when they forge links with other unregistered groups.  However, official harassment of underground Catholic and Protestant groups in South China eased somewhat in 2001. 

In some areas there are reports of harassment of churches by local religious affairs bureau officials, attributed,at least in part, to financial issues.  For example, although regulations require local authorities to provide land to registered church groups, some local officials may try to avoid doing so by denying registration.  Official churches also may face harassment if local authorities wish to acquire the land on which a church is located.  In addition to refusing to register churches, there also are reports that religious affairs bureau officials have requested illegal "donations" from churches in their jurisdictions as a means of raising extra revenue.

The Government permitted limited numbers of Catholic and Protestant seminarians, Muslim clerics, and Buddhist clergy to go abroad for additional religious studies.  In most cases, funding for these training programs is provided by foreign organizations.  Both official and unofficial Christian churches have problems training adequate numbers of clergy to meet the needs of their growing congregations.  Due to the restrictions on religion between 1955 and 1985, no priests or other clergy in the official churches were ordained during that period; most priests and pastors were trained either before 1955 or after 1985.  The shortfall is most severe for persons between the ages of 35 and 65.  Those deemed too independent reportedly have their budgets cut.  Due to government prohibitions, unofficial churches have particularly significant problems training clergy or sending students to study overseas, and many clergy receive only limited and inadequate preparation.  Most religious institutions depend on their own resources.  Frequently religious institutions run side businesses selling religious items, and at times they run strictly commercial businesses such as restaurants.  Contributions from parish members are common among both Catholics and Protestants.  Sometimes the State funds repairs for temples or shrines having cultural or historic significance; however, there are some reports that government funds are allocated only to registered churches, depending upon how independent they are perceived to be.

In 1999 the Party's Central Committee issued a document calling upon the authorities to tighten control over the official Catholic Church and to eliminate the underground Catholic Church if it did not bend to Government control.  There has been increasing pressure by the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association on underground Catholic bishops to join the official church, and authorities have reorganized dioceses without consulting church leaders.  The Government has not established diplomatic relations with the Holy See, and there is no Vatican representative in the country.  The Government's  refusal to allow the official Catholic Church to recognize the authority of the Papacy in matters of faith and morals has led many Catholics to reject joining the official Catholic Church on the grounds that this denies one of the fundamental tenets of their faith.  Catholic priests in the official church also face dilemmas when asked by parishioners whether they should follow Church doctrine about birth control or State family planning policy.  This dilemma is particularly acute when discussing abortion.

Tensions between the Vatican and the Government have caused leadership problems for the Catholic Church in the country because of tension between some bishops who have been ordained with secret Vatican approval (or who obtained such secret approval after their ordination) and others ordained without such approval.  While both Chinese and Vatican authorities say that they would welcome an agreement to normalize relations, problems concerning the role of the Pope in selecting bishops and the status of "underground" Catholic clerics have frustrated efforts to reach this goal.  Some "underground" Catholic priests have indicated they are unwilling to accept the authority of bishops ordained without Vatican approval.  Newly nominated bishops seeking unofficial Papal approval frequently find themselves at odds with other church leaders who are sympathetic to the Central Government, and who insist that ordinations of new bishops be conducted by more senior bishops not recognized by the Vatican. 

Priests or bishops who served in seminaries were disciplined if they did not overtly support official criticism of the Pope's October 1, 2000, canonization of 120 saints with ties to the country, many of whom had been killed during the Boxer Rebellion.  The canonization, which occurred on the anniversary of the founding of the PRC, was seen by the Government as an affront.  As disagreements between the Government and the Vatican intensified in 2000, there were reliable reports that the official Catholic seminary in Beijing forced most of its students to attend political training courses in lieu of theology courses.  A number of Catholic seminarians who sided with the Vatican in the dispute have resigned in opposition.  In addition, foreign teachers at the official Catholic seminary in Xian were forced to leave the country after the head of the seminary criticized the Government's position in its dispute with the Vatican.  However, many Catholic teachers at other sites continued to work as teachers.

There are thriving Muslim communities in some areas, but government sensitivity to Muslim community concerns is varied.  In areas where ethnic unrest has occurred, particularly among Central Asian Muslims (and especially the Uighurs) in Xinjiang, officials continue to restrict the building of mosques.  However, in other areas, particularly in areas traditionally populated by the non-Central Asian Hui ethnic group, there is substantial religious building construction and renovation.  After a series of violent incidents in Xinjiang beginning in 1997 and continuing into 2000, including reported bombings in Xinjiang and other parts of the country attributed to Uighur separatists, police crackdown on Muslim religious activity and places of worship accused of supporting separatism in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region.

Nevertheless, provincial-level Communist Party and Government officials also repeatedly called for stronger management of religious affairs and for the separation of religion from administrative matters.  For example, the official Xinjiang Legal Daily newspaper reported in 2000 that in recent years a township in Bay (Baicheng) County had found cases of "religious interference" in judicial, marriage, and family planning matters.  In response the authorities began conducting monthly political study sessions for religious personnel and the authorities began to more vigorously implement restrictions on the religious education of youths under the age of 18.  In addition they required every mosque to record the numbers and names of those attending each day's activities.  The official Xinjiang Daily newspaper reported in 2000 that Yining County had reviewed the activities of 420 mosques, and had implemented a system of linking ethnic minority cadres to mosques in order to improve vigilance against "illegal religious activities."  The story reported that the county's persistent propaganda efforts had led a group of 24 women to shed their veils and raise their level of "civilization."  The educational campaign reportedly also had led young ethnic couples who had married illegally in an Islamic betrothal ceremony to seek legal marriage certificates. 

Tibetan Buddhists outside of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) generally appear to have growing freedom to practice their faith.  Diplomats have seen pictures of a number of Tibetan religious figures, including the Dalai Lama, openly displayed in parts of Sichuan, Qinghai, and Gansu.  Abbots and monks in those predominately Tibetan areas outside the TAR report they have greater freedom to worship and conduct religious training than their coreligionists within the TAR.  However, in June 2001, Chinese authorities ordered thousands of monks and nuns to leave the Larung Gar monastic encampment (also known as the Serthar Tibetan Buddhist Institute), located in the Ganze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan Province.  As monks and nuns left, many of their residences were destroyed to prevent them from returning to the site.  As many as 7,000 monks and nuns, including approximately 1,000 Han Chinese, resided at Serthar, although the population grew to more than 10,000 during special teachings.  Authorities have declared that only 1,400 will be allowed to remain after October 2001.  The TIN reported that at the time of their expulsion, many monks and nuns were pressured to sign documents containing three points:  a promise not to return, a denunciation of the Dalai Lama, and a commitment to follow official policies.  Serthar founder Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok, a charismatic and widely revered Buddhist teacher, is in poor health and partially blind.  His whereabouts could not be confirmed by the end of the reporting period.  (A discussion of government restrictions on Tibetan Buddhism in the TAR can be found in the Tibet annex to this report.)

In a growing number of areas, authorities have displayed increasing tolerance of religious practice by foreigners.  Weekly services of the foreign Jewish community in Beijing have been held uninterrupted since 1995, and High Holy Day observances have been allowed for more than 15 years.  The Shanghai Jewish community has received permission from authorities to hold services on several occasions, most recently in April 2001, in a historic Shanghai synagogue, which had been restored as a museum.  Local authorities remain committed to allowing the use of the synagogue on a case-by-case basis for major holidays. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) meets regularly in a number of Chinese cities, but its membership is strictly limited to the expatriate community.

The authorities permit officially sanctioned religious organizations to maintain international contacts that do not involve "foreign control."  What constitutes "control" is not defined.  Regulations enacted in 1994, and expanded in September 2000, codified many existing rules involving foreigners, including a ban on proselytizing by foreigners.  However, for the most part, the authorities allow foreign nationals to preach to other foreigners, bring in religious materials for personal use, and preach to Chinese citizens at churches, mosques, and temples at the invitation of registered religious organizations.  Foreigners legally are barred from conducting missionary activities, but foreign Christians currently teaching English and other languages on college campuses openly profess their faith with minimum interference from authorities, as long as their proselytizing is low key.  Many Christian groups throughout the country have developed close ties with local officials, in some cases operating schools and homes for the care of the aged.  In addition, Buddhist-run private schools and orphanages in central China also offer professional training courses to teenagers and young adults. 

The increase in the number of Christians in the country has resulted in a corresponding increase in the demand for Bibles.  In 2000 one printing company, a joint venture with an overseas Christian organization, commemorated printing its 25 millionth Bible since its founding in 1987.  The organization has printed Bibles in Braille and minority languages, such as Korean, Jingbo, Lisu, Lahu, Miao, and Yao.  Although Bibles can be purchased at some bookstores, they are not readily available and cannot be ordered directly from publishing houses by individuals.  However, they are available for purchase at most officially recognized churches, in which many house church members buy their Bibles without incident.  Nonetheless some underground Christians hesitate to buy Bibles at official churches because such transactions sometimes involve receipts that identify the purchaser.  Foreign experts confirm reports of chronic shortages of Bibles, mostly due to logistical problems in disseminating Bibles to rural areas.  The situation has improved due to improved distribution channels, including to house churches.  Customs officials continued to monitor for the "smuggling" of Bibles and other religious materials into the country.  There have been credible reports that the authorities sometimes confiscate Bibles in raids on house churches. 

The law does not prohibit religious believers from holding public office; however, most influential positions in government are reserved for Party members, and Communist Party officials state that Party membership and religious belief are incompatible.  Party membership also is required for almost all high-level positions in government and in state-owned businesses and organizations.  The Communist Party reportedly has issued two circulars since 1995 ordering Party members not to adhere to religious beliefs and ordering the expulsion of Party members who belong to religious organizations, whether open or clandestine.  High-ranking Communist Party officials, including President and CCP Party Secretary Jiang Zemin, also have stated that Party members cannot be religious adherents.  For example, in October 2000, Wang Lequan, secretary of the Xinjiang Party Committee restated to Party members that "cadres at all levels should consciously adhere to Marxist atheism.  Do not believe in religion, do not take part in religious activities."  Muslims allegedly have been fired from government posts for praying during working hours.  The "Routine Service Regulations" of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) state explicitly that servicemen "may not take part in religious or superstitious activities."  In addition Party and PLA military personnel were expelled for adhering to the Falun Gong spiritual movement.

However, according to government officials, many local Communist Party officials engage in some kind of religious activity; in certain localities, up to 20 to 25 percent of Party officials engage in religious activities.  Most officials who practice a religion are Buddhist or practice a folk religion.  Religious figures, who are not members of the CCP, are included in national and local government organizations, usually to represent their constituency on cultural and educational matters.  The National People's Congress (NPC) includes several religious leaders, including Pagbalha Geleg Namgyai, a Tibetan "living Buddha," who is a vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the NPC.  Religious groups also are represented in the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, a forum for "multiparty" cooperation and consultation led by the CCP, which advises the Government on policy.

The Government teaches atheism in schools.  The participation of minors in religious education is prohibited by regulation.  However, enforcement varies dramatically from region to region, and in some areas large numbers of young people attend religious services at both registered and unregistered places of worship.  Official religious organizations administer local Bible schools, 54 Catholic and Protestant seminaries, 9 institutes to train imams and Islamic scholars, and institutes to train Buddhist monks.  Students who attend these institutes must demonstrate "political reliability" and all graduates must pass an examination on their theological and political knowledge to qualify for the clergy.  Some young Uighur Muslims study outside of the country in Muslim religious schools.  The Government has stated that there are 10 colleges conducting Islamic higher education and 2 other Islamic schools in Xinjiang operating with government support. 

Abuses of Religious Freedom

During the period covered by this report, unapproved religious and spiritual groups came under greater scrutiny and, in many cases, harsh repression -- even as officially sanctioned and government-controlled religious activity largely went unaffected.  Although there was no significant change in the central government's official policy toward religious freedom, the unremitting campaign against Falun Gong and other "heretical cults," plus frequent statements by senior leaders on the need to "strengthen religious work," had an inevitable spillover effect.

Police killed a number of religious adherents.  In December, six Hui Muslims were killed by members of Shandong's paramilitary People's Armed Police when they tried to march into Yangxin county to protest anti-Muslim activity there.  Central government authorities reacted quickly, punishing several local officials and ordering a number of forums to discuss tolerance.  Local Muslim leaders publicly expressed their appreciation for the Government's intervention, but tensions remain high between Hui and non-Hui members of the community.

In some areas, security authorities used threats, demolition of unregistered property, extortion of "fines," interrogation, detention, and at times beatings and torture to harass unofficial religious figures and followers.  Authorities particularly targeted unofficial religious groups in Beijing and the provinces of Henan and Shandong, in which there are rapidly growing numbers of unregistered Protestants, and in Hebei, a center of unregistered Catholics. 

Offenses related to membership in unapproved religious groups are classified as crimes of disturbing the social order. According to the Law Yearbook of China, arrests for disturbing the social order increased dramatically between 1998 and 1999, from 76,500 persons to over 90,000.  Most experts agree that this the increase primarily was due to the Government's crackdown, begun in mid-1999, on qigong groups like Falun Gong, evangelical Christian groups, and localized Buddhist groups such as the Society of Disciples (Mentu Hui) and the Guan Yin (Guanyin Famin) sect, Protestant house churches, and the clandestine Roman Catholic Church.  Leaders of unauthorized groups in particular often are the targets of harassment, interrogations, detention, and physical abuse.  For example, in August 2000, police in Jiangsu arrested Shen Chang, the leader of a qigong group, and charged him with tax evasion and organizing gatherings aimed at disturbing social order.  Religious groups that preach beliefs outside the bounds of officially approved doctrine (such as imminent coming of the Apocalypse, or holy war) or that have charismatic leaders often are singled out for particularly severe harassment.  Some observers have attributed the unorthodox beliefs of some of these groups to undertrained clergy.  Others acknowledge that some individuals may be exploiting the reemergence of interest in religion for personal gain.

Some Protestant house church groups reported in mid-2000 that police raids of worship services and detentions were more frequent than in previous years.  In early August 2000, police detained 31 members of an underground Protestant church in Hubei's Guangshui City.  A week later, 12 members of an underground Protestant church in Henan were arrested.  In late August 2000, police arrested 130 members of a house church headquartered in Fangcheng City, Henan, after they had held services with 3 American members of a Protestant fellowship organization.

Local authorities also use extrajudicial means to punish members of unregistered religious groups.  Many religious detainees and prisoners were held.  Citizens can be sentenced administratively by a nonjudicial panel of police and local authorities to up to 3 years in prison-like facilities called reeducation-through-labor camps.  Qin Baocai and Mu Sheng, colleagues of Protestant house church leader Xu Yongze, continue to serve reeducation-through-labor sentences.  The Government's 1997 White Paper on Religious Freedom stated that Xu had promoted a cult, preaching that the Apocalypse was near and asking worshipers to wail in public spaces for several consecutive days.  Group members deny these allegations.

In Hebei where an estimated half of the country's Catholics reside, friction between unofficial Catholics and local authorities continued.  Hebei authorities have been known to force many underground priests and believers to choose between joining the Patriotic Church or facing punishment such as fines, job loss, periodic detentions, and, in some cases, having their children barred from school.  Some Catholics have been forced into hiding.  The whereabouts of Roman Catholic Bishop Su Zhimin, whose followers reported that he was arrested in 1997, remained unclear, despite repeated inquiries from the international community on his status.  Underground Catholic sources in Hebei claimed that he still was under detention, while the Government denied having taken "any coercive measures" against him.  Reliable sources reported that Bishop An Shuxin, Bishop Zhang Weizhu, Father Cui Xing, and Father Wang Quanjun remained under detention in Hebei.  According to several NGOs, a number of Catholic priests and lay leaders were beaten or otherwise abused during the period covered by this report.  Underground Catholic Bishop Joseph Fan Zhongliang of Shanghai remained under surveillance and often had his movements restricted.  Roman Catholic Bishop Zeng Jingmu, released from a labor camp in 1998, reportedly was arrested in Jiangxi in September 2000, although the Government denied those reports.  The Authorities detained underground bishop Shi Enxiang on Palm Sunday in Beijing, although they later claimed that he had been released.  On February 10, 2000, in Fuzhou, Fujian province, a large group of police arrested underground Catholic Bishop Yang Shudao.  The Government denied that the elderly Bishop was being detained; in response to official inquiries, they stated that he was receiving medical treatment.  By the end of the period covered by this report there had been no new information on his whereabouts or physical condition.

According to some reports, the Government intensified its harsh and comprehensive campaign against the Falun Gong during the early spring of 2001.  Since the Government banned the Falun Gong in 1999, the practice of Falun Gong or possession of its literature has been sufficient grounds for practitioners to receive punishments ranging from loss of employment to imprisonment.  Some Falun Gong members have been tortured in custody and some have died.

In July 1999, the Government officially declared Falun Gong illegal and began a nationwide repression of the movement.  Throughout the country, tens of thousands of practitioners were rounded up and detained for several days--often in open stadiums under poor and overcrowded conditions, with inadequate food, water, and sanitary facilities.  Many Falun Gong practitioners lost their jobs or were expelled from universities; Falun Gong practitioners continued to experience discrimination in job and educational opportunities.  Falun Gong members who "disrupt public order" or distribute publications can be sentenced to three-seven years and leaders up to seven years or more in prison.

Although the vast majority of practitioners detained later were  released, those identified by the Government as "core leaders" were singled out for particularly harsh treatment.  In August 2000, the Director of the Religious Affairs Bureau stated that 151 Falun Gong practitioners had been convicted of leaking state secrets, creating chaos, or other crimes.  Although more than a dozen Falun Gong members have been sentenced to prison for the crime of "endangering state security," the great majority of Falun Gong members convicted of crimes by Chinese courts since 1999 have been sentenced to prison for "organizing or using a sect to undermine the implementation of the law," a less serious offense.  Human rights organizations estimate that as many as 300 practitioners have been sentenced to prison terms of up to 18 years for their involvement in Falun Gong.  According to the local press, in November several persons accused of printing and distributing Falun Gong literature were arrested in Chaoyan, Liaoning Province.  However, the great majority of practitioners have been punished administratively.  Although firm numbers are impossible to obtain, many thousands of individuals are serving sentences in reeducation-through-labor camps.  Other practitioners have been sent to facilities specifically established to "rehabilitate" practitioners who refuse to recant their belief voluntarily.

According to the Falun Gong, hundreds of its practitioners have been confined to mental hospitals.  There have been numerous credible reports of unrepentant Falun Gong practitioners being confined in psychiatric institutions.

Police often used excessive force when detaining peaceful Falun Gong protesters, including some who were elderly or who were accompanied by small children.  During the period covered by this report, there were numerous credible reports of abuse and even killings of Falun Gong practitioners by the police and other security personnel, including police involvement in beatings, detention under extremely harsh conditions, and torture (including by electric shock and by having hands and feet shackled and linked with crossed steel chains).  Various sources report that since 1997 approximately 100 or more Falun Gong adherents have died  while in police custody; many of their bodies reportedly bore signs of severe beatings and/or torture.  Others reportedly were cremated before relatives could examine them.  Practitioners Li Zaiji and Wang Paisheng died in custody during the first 2 weeks of July 2000, according to one NGO.  On June 16, several Falun Gong adherents died under mysterious circumstances at the Wanjila Labor Camp in Harbin City, Heilongjiag Province.

Falun Gong practitioners continued their efforts to overcome government attempts to restrict their right to free assembly, especially in Beijing.  However, the number of protests by individuals or small groups of practitioners at Tiananmen Square decreased considerably during the period covered by this report.  Demonstrations also continued throughout the country.  Most protests were small and short-lived as expanded police units quickly and sometimes violently detained anyone who admitted to being, or appeared to be, a practitioner.  Hundreds of Falun Gong practitioners were detained after peaceful protests in Tiananmen Square during the week of July 22, 2000, the anniversary of the Government's ban on the group.  Despite a heavy security presence, on October 1--the anniversary of the founding of the PRC--hundreds, and perhaps more than 1,000, peacefully-protesting practitioners again were arrested in Tiananmen Square, forcing a brief closure of the square.  The Government later labeled Falun Gong a reactionary group attempting to subvert the State.  On October 26, another mass protest marking the anniversary of the 1999 decision of the National People's Congress to ban "cults," including Falun Gong, was held at Tiananmen Square; more than 100 Falun Gong practitioners reportedly were detained.  Many allegedly were beaten.  Over the next few days, many more practitioners were arrested in Tiananmen Square. 

According to press reports, after the January 23 self-immolations of five purported Falun Gong practitioners at a Communist Party work conference, the Government initiated a comprehensive effort to round up practitioners not already in custody, and sanctioned the use of high pressure indoctrination tactics against the group in an effort to force them to renounce Falun Gong.  Neighborhood committees, state institutions (including universities), and companies reportedly were ordered to send all known Falun Gong practitioners to intensive anti-Falun Gong study sessions.  Even practitioners who had not protested or made other public demonstrations of belief reportedly were forced to attend such classes.  Those who refused to recant their beliefs after weeks of intensive anti-Falun Gong instruction reportedly were sent to reeducation-through-labor camps, where in some cases, beatings and torture were used to force them to recant their beliefs; some of the most active Falun Gong practitioners were sent directly to reeducation-through-labor camps.  These tactics reportedly resulted in large numbers of practitioners pledging to renounce the movement.

Authorities also briefly detained foreign practitioners, although it remains unclear whether the authorities were aware that such persons were foreigners.  For example, on November 23, Falun Gong practitioner and U.S. resident Teng Chunyan was tried on charges of providing national security information to foreigners, reportedly for providing foreigners with information about the Government's campaign against Falun Gong.  On December 12, she was sentenced to 3 years of reeducation-through-labor.  Several foreign reporters also were detained briefly on April 25, after having taken photographs of police detaining Falun Gong demonstrators on Tiananmen Square.  Foreign tourists routinely had their film and videotape confiscated after recording (often inadvertently) Falun Gong detentions. 

The tactic used most frequently by the central government against Falun Gong practitioners has been to make local officials, family members, and employers of known practitioners responsible for preventing Falun Gong activities by individuals.  In many cases, practitioners are subject to close scrutiny by local security personnel and their personal mobility is restricted tightly, particularly on days when the Government believes public protests are likely.

Forced Religious Conversion

There were no reports of forced religious conversion, including of minor U.S. citizens who had been abducted or illegally removed from the United States, or of the Government's refusal to allow such citizens to be returned to the United States.

Section III.  Societal Attitudes

The communities of the five official religions--Buddhism, Islam, Taoism, Catholicism, and Protestantism--coexist without significant friction.  However, in some parts of the country, there is a tense relationship between registered and unregistered Christian churches.  There were reports of divisions within both the official Protestant church and the house church movement over issues of doctrine; in both the registered and unregistered Protestant churches there are conservative and more liberal groups.  Credible reports indicated that senior officials at Protestant seminaries are attempting to purge their schools of younger professors sympathetic to more fundamentalist teachings.  Defenders of the senior officials characterize the move as an attempt to maintain a more liberal and tolerant approach to church membership.  Critics state that senior officials are out of touch with the majority of Chinese Protestants, who tend to be fundamentalist.  In other areas, the two groups coexist without problems.  In general the majority of the population shows little interest in the affairs of the religious minority beyond visiting temples during festivals or churches on Christmas Eve.  Religious/ethnic minority groups such as Tibetans and Uighurs experience societal discrimination, but this is not based solely upon their religious beliefs.  Traditionally there also has been tension occasionally between the Han and the Hui, a Muslim ethnic group.

Section IV.  U.S. Government Policy

The Department of State, U.S. officials in Beijing, and the Consulates General in Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Shenyang make a concerted effort to encourage greater religious freedom in the country, using both focused external pressure on abuses and support for positive trends within the country.  In exchanges with the Government, including with religious affairs officials, diplomatic personnel consistently urge both central and local authorities to respect citizens' rights to religious freedom.  U.S. officials protest vigorously whenever there are credible reports of religious harassment or discrimination in violation of international laws and standards; and request information in cases of alleged mistreatment in which the facts are incomplete or contradictory.  At the same time, U.S. officials make the case to the country's leaders that freedom of religion can strengthen, not harm, the country.  The U.S. Embassy and Consulates also collect information about abuses and maintain contacts in the country's religious communities with a wide spectrum of religious leaders, including bishops, priests, ministers of the official Christian churches, and Taoist, Muslim, and Buddhist leaders.  U.S. officials also meet with leaders and members of the unofficial Christian churches.  The Department of State's nongovernmental contacts include experts on religion in China, human rights organizations, and religious groups in the United States.  The Department of State has sent a number of Chinese religious leaders and scholars to the U.S. on international visitor programs to see firsthand the role that religion plays in the U. S..  The Embassy also brings experts on religion from the U. S. to the country to speak about the role of religion in American life and public policy.

In May 1999, the Chinese Government suspended the official U.S. China bilateral human rights dialog.  However, in July, the U.S. and China agreed to resume this dialogue.  

Nonetheless, government officials occasionally have refused to grant meetings to U.S. Embassy officials who intended to raise religious freedom or other human rights issues.  In March government officials refused to meet with U.S. diplomats from the Department of State's Office of International Religious Freedom.  The two diplomats visited the country anyway; however, the Government did not permit religious figures to meet with them.  During the same month, members of the independent governmental agency International Religious Freedom Commission were denied visas to visit the country to meet with officials. Despite these limitations, U.S. officials in Washington and Beijing have continued to protest individual incidents of abuse.  On numerous occasions, both the Department of State and the Embassy in Beijing protested government actions to curb freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, including the destruction of unregistered churches in Wenzhou, the arrests of Falun Gong followers, the crackdowns on Tibetan Buddhists and on Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, and the arrests of Christian ministers and believers.  The lack of improvement in religious freedom in the country was a key factor in the U.S. decision to introduce, once again in 2001, a resolution critical of China's human rights record at the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva.

In September 2000, the Secretary of State designated China a country of particular concern under the International Religious Freedom Act for particularly severe violations of religious freedom. 

Tibet

(This section of the report on China has been prepared pursuant to Section 536(b) of Public Law 103-236.  The United States recognizes the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR)--hereinafter referred to as "Tibet"--to be part of the People's Republic of China.  Preservation and development of Tibet's unique religious, cultural, and linguistic heritage and protection of its people's fundamental human rights continue to be of concern.)

The Constitution of the People's Republic of China provides for freedom of religious belief; however, the Government maintains tight controls on religious practices and places of worship in Tibet.  Although the authorities permit some traditional religious practices and public manifestations of belief, they promptly and forcibly suppress those activities viewed as vehicles for political dissent, such as religious activities that are perceived as advocating Tibetan independence or any form of separatism (which the Chinese Government describes as "splittist").

The Government strictly controls access to and information about Tibet, and it is difficult to determine accurately the scope of religious freedom violations.  Nevertheless, repression of religious freedom in Tibet reached severe levels during the summer of 2000, with serious restrictions imposed on lay practices.  However, these restrictions apparently were not enforced as strictly by the end of 2000.  The overall level of repression in Tibet remained high, and the Government's record of respect for religious freedom remained poor during the period covered by this report. 

In the aftermath of the "patriotic education" campaign begun in the mid-1990s, patriotic education activities continued but at a lower level of intensity as the Government declared "success" in increasing control over the Tibetan Buddhist establishment. However, many persons, including monks and nuns, were arrested for attempting to protest peacefully or for refusing to abide by rules imposed by government authorities in Buddhist monasteries.  These rules include the renunciation of the Dalai Lama and the acceptance of Tibet as a part of China.  Many other monks and nuns remain in detention, some serving long prison terms, for similar offenses.  There were reports of the death of religious prisoners, as well as the imprisonment and abuse or torture of monks and nuns accused of political activism. 

Although the Christian population in Tibet is extremely small, there is societal pressure aimed at converts, some of whom reportedly have been disinherited by their families. 

The U.S. Government continued to make a concerted effort to encourage greater religious freedom in Tibet, by urging the central government and local authorities to respect religious freedom, by protesting credible reports of religious persecution or discrimination, by discussing cases with the authorities, and by requesting information about specific incidents.

Section I.  Religious Demography

Tibet has a total land area of 471,700 square miles, and according to Government figures, its population is approximately 2.62 million.  Most persons practice Tibetan Buddhism to some degree.  Many ethnic Tibetan government officials and some ethnic Tibetan Communist Party members quietly practice Buddhism.  While officials state that there is no Falun Gong activity in the TAR, reports indicate that there are small numbers of practitioners in the region among the ethnic Han population.  Small numbers of Tibetan Muslims and Christians also live in the region.

Chinese officials state that Tibet has more than 46,300 Buddhist monks and nuns and approximately 1,787 monasteries, temples, and religious sites.  Officials have used these same figures for several years, although the numbers of monks and nuns have dropped at many sites, especially since the beginning of the "patriotic education" campaign in the mid-1990s, which resulted in the expulsion from monasteries and nunneries of many monks and nuns who refused to denounce the Dalai Lama or who were found to be "politically unqualified" to be monks or nuns.  These numbers represent only the Tibet Autonomous Region; over 100,000 monks and nuns live in other Tibetan areas of China, including parts of Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu, and Qinghai Provinces.

Section II.  Status of Religious Freedom

Legal/Policy Framework

The Constitution of the People's Republic of China provides for freedom of religious belief and the freedom not to believe; however, the Government seeks to restrict religious practice to government-sanctioned organizations and registered places of worship and to control the growth and scope of the activity of religious groups.  The Government maintains tight controls on religious practices and places of worship in Tibet.  Although the authorities permit some traditional religious practices and public manifestations of belief, they promptly and forcibly suppress those activities viewed as vehicles for political dissent, such as religious activities that are perceived as advocating Tibetan independence or any form of separatism (which the Government describes as "splittist").  The authorities also regularly require monks and nuns to make statements overtly supporting government or party policies on religion and history, to pledge themselves to support officially approved religious leaders and reincarnations, and to denounce the Dalai Lama.

The Government continued its harsh rhetorical campaign against the Dalai Lama and his leadership of a "government-in-exile."  The official press continued to criticize vehemently the "Dalai clique," and in an attempt to undermine the credibility of his religious authority, repeatedly described the Dalai Lama as a "criminal" who was determined to split China.  Both the central government and local officials often insist that dialog with the Dalai Lama is essentially impossible, and claim that his actions belie his repeated public assurances that he does not advocate independence for Tibet.  Nonetheless the Government asserts that the door to dialog and negotiation is open provided that the Dalai Lama publicly affirms that Tibet is an inseparable part of China.  Since 1998, the Government also has required the Dalai Lama to affirm publicly that Taiwan is a province of China.

The Government claims that since 1976 it has contributed sums in excess of $40 million (approximately 300 to 400 million RMB) toward the restoration of tens of thousands of Buddhist sites, which were destroyed before and during the Cultural Revolution.  Government funding of restoration efforts ostensibly was done to support the practice of religion, but also was done in part to promote the development of tourism in Tibet.  Most recent restoration efforts were funded privately, although several large religious sites also were receiving government support for reconstruction projects at the end of the period covered by this report.

Restrictions on Religious Freedom

Buddhist monasteries and pro-independence activism are closely associated in Tibet, and the Government has moved to curb the proliferation of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, which it charges are a drain on local resources and a conduit for political infiltration by the Tibetan exile community.  The Government states that there are no limits on the number of monks in major monasteries, and that each monastery's democratic management committee (DMC) decides on its own how many monks the monastery can support.  However, these committees are government-controlled, and in practice, the authorities impose strict limits on the number of monks in major monasteries.  The Government has the right to disapprove any individual's application to take up religious orders, although these restrictions are not always enforced.

Monasteries continue to house and train young monks.  Although by regulation monks are prohibited from joining a monastery prior to the age of 18, many younger boys in fact continue the tradition of entering monastic life.  However, in some large monasteries young novices, who traditionally served as attendants to older monks while receiving a basic monastic education and awaiting formal ordination, have been expelled in recent years for being underage.  The fact that these novices were not regular members of the monasteries has allowed authorities to deny that there has been a significant decline in the numbers at those sites.

The Government continued to oversee the daily operations of major monasteries.  The Government, which does not contribute to monasteries' operational funds, retains management control of the monasteries through the DMC's and the local religious affairs bureaus.  In many areas, regulations restrict leadership of the DMC's to "patriotic and devoted" monks and nuns and specify that the Government must approve all members of the committees.  At some major monasteries, government officials also sit on the committees.  Despite these efforts to control the Buddhist clergy and monasteries, antigovernment sentiment remains strong. 

In recent years, DMC's at several large monasteries have begun to collect all funds generated by sales of entrance tickets or donated by pilgrims.  These funds previously were disbursed to monks engaged in full-time religious study for advanced religious degrees.  Such "scholar monks" must now engage in income-generating activities at least part of the time.  Several experts are concerned that fewer monks will be qualified to serve as teachers in the future as a result.

In the aftermath of the Government's "patriotic education" campaign, which began in the mid-1990s, patriotic education activities continued but at a lower level of intensity as the Government declared "success" in increasing control over the Tibetan Buddhist establishment.  It did this by enforcing compliance with government regulations, and either cowing or weeding out monks and nuns who refuse to adopt the Party line and remain sympathetic to the Dalai Lama. During the period covered by this report, the Government continued to dispatch work teams to religious sites where they conducted mandatory lessons for monks and nuns.  The work teams, which have been largely unsuccessful in changing Tibetans' attitudes, require monks to be "patriotic," and to demonstrate this by signing a declaration agreeing to reject independence for Tibet; rejecting Gendun Choekyi Nyima, the boy recognized by the Dalai Lama as the 11th reincarnation of the Panchen Lama; rejecting and denouncing the Dalai Lama; recognizing the unity of China and Tibet; and not listening to the Voice of America or Radio Free Asia.  According to some reports, monks who refused to sign were expelled from their monasteries and were not permitted to return home to work.  Others were forced to leave their monasteries after failing to pass political exams associated with the campaigns, and still others left "voluntarily" rather than denounce the Dalai Lama. Monks, nuns, and lay Buddhists deeply resented the Government's efforts.  Although there has been some reduction of patriotic education activities throughout the region, religious activities in many monasteries and nunneries were disrupted severely, and monks and nuns have fled to India to escape the campaigns. Approximately 3,000 Tibetans enter Nepal each year to escape conditions in Tibet, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees; one third of these refugees claim that they left because of the "patriotic reeducation" campaigns.

In June 2001, authorities ordered thousands of monks and nuns to leave the Larung Gar monastic encampment (also known as Serthar Tibetan Buddhist Institute), located in the Ganze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan Province.  Of the more than 7,000 monks and nuns who resided at Serthar, only 1,400 will be allowed to remain after October 2001 (for more information about this incident, see Section II of the China International Religious Freedom Report).

After the Karmapa, the leader of Tibetan Buddhism's Karma Kargyu school and one of the most influential religious figures in Tibetan Buddhism, escaped to India in December 1999, authorities increased efforts to exert control over the process for finding and educating reincarnated lamas.  The Government approved the selection of 2-year-old Sonam Phuntsog on January 16, 2000, as the seventh reincarnation of the Reting Rinpoche.  However, the Dalai Lama, who normally must approve the selection of important religious figures such as the Reting Rinpoche, did not recognize the choice.  Many of the monks at Reting Monastery reportedly did not accept the child as the Reting Rinpoche, and he now lives with his family under heavy guard in his residence near the monastery; authorities tightly controlled access to the area.   Another young reincarnate lama, Pawo Rinpoche, also lives under house arrest at Nenang Monastery; Pawo Rinpoche, who is approximately seven years of age, was recognized by the Karmapa as the 18th reincarnation of an important Karma Kargyu lineage.  He has been denied access to his religious tutors, and authorities reportedly are requiring that he attend a regular Chinese school.  Foreigners, including foreign officials, were repeatedly denied permission to visit his monastery.

The Government continued to insist that Gyaltsen Norbu, the boy it selected in 1995, is the Panchen Lama's 11th reincarnation. The authorities tightly control all aspects of his life, and he

has appeared publicly in Beijing and Tibet only on rare occasions.  His public appearances were marked by a heavy security presence.  At all other times, the authorities strictly limited access to the boy.  The Panchen Lama is Tibetan Buddhism's second most prominent figure, after the Dalai Lama.

The ban on the ownership or public display of photographs of the Dalai Lama continued, and such pictures were not readily available except through illegal means.  In the spring of 2000, Lhasa area neighborhood committees began sending teams to the homes of ordinary citizens to confiscate books about and pictures of the Dalai Lama.  By the end of 2000, these searches no longer were taking place on a regular basis, and a few pictures of the Dalai Lama were again seen in public areas.  Similar bans were in effect in Tibetan areas outside the TAR, although by the spring of 2001 the Dalai Lama's portrait was reappearing in shops and religious sites in several regions. However, the Government still banned pictures of Gendun Choekyi Nyima, the boy recognized by the Dalai Lama as the Panchen Lama.

Some 1,000 religious figures hold positions in local people's congresses and committees of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.  However, the Government continues to insist that Communist Party members and senior government employees adhere to the Party's code of atheism.  A 3-year drive to promote atheism and science, first announced in January 1999 and originally aimed at government workers, continued and was extended to more government offices and to schools.  The drive was launched to promote economic progress, strengthen the struggle against separatism, and stem "the Dalai clique's reactionary infiltration."  Government officials confirmed that all RAB officers are members of the Communist Party, and that Party members are required to be atheists.  However, not all lower level members of the local RAB's are atheists.

During the spring and summer of 2000, in Lhasa and other areas, the authorities increased restrictions on religious activities, prohibiting Communist Party officials and government employees (including such groups as teachers and medical workers) from going into monasteries, visiting the Jokhang Temple, having altars in their homes, participating in religious activities during the Tibetan New Year (Losar), such as placing new prayer flags on their roofs, burning incense and making the traditional "lingkor" (pilgrimage circuit around the sacred sites of Lhasa during the festival of Sagadawa--the most important religious holiday in Tibetan Buddhism).  In some areas, many private citizens were also pressured to comply with these restrictions.  Some government employees were forbidden to make donations to monks and nuns in Lhasa.  Authorities in some parts of Lhasa also searched private homes for religious objects or pictures of the Dalai Lama.

In February 2001, the Tibet Information Network (TIN), an independent news and research service, reported that government workers, cadres and schoolchildren were told to celebrate Losar at home and were not permitted to attend prayer festivals at the monasteries or make financial donations to temples or monasteries.  However, despite the clampdown, many pilgrims and other Tibetans still made religious offerings at the main temples in Lhasa.  In June 2001, the TIN also reported that Lhasa authorities issued a public notice reinforcing the ban on celebrations of the Dalai Lama's birthday.  In recent years Tibetans have been forbidden to hold traditional incense-burning ceremonies anywhere in Lhasa, and some places of worship were closed on that day.  Despite these reports, however, many private citizens and government officials were again participating in religious practices that had been banned six months earlier, such as visiting monasteries, making the "lingkor," and changing the prayer flags on the roofs of their homes during Losar.

Travel restrictions also were reported during the period covered by this report.  The Government tightly controlled visits by foreign officials to religious sites, and official foreign delegations had few opportunities to meet monks and nuns not previously approved by the local authorities. 

Abuses of Religious Freedom

The Government strictly controls access to and information about Tibet, and it is difficult to determine accurately the scope of religious freedom violations.  Nevertheless, repression of religious freedom in Tibet reached severe levels during the summer of 2000, with serious restrictions imposed on lay practices.  However, these restrictions apparently were not enforced as strictly by the end of 2000.  The overall level of repression in Tibet remained high, and the Government's record of respect for religious freedom remained poor during the period covered by this report.

According to the TIN, at least 26 monks and nuns have died while in detention since 1989, of whom at least 17 had been held in Lhasa's Drapchi Prison.  During the period covered by this report, there were additional accounts of prisoner deaths, either while in detention or soon after release.  According to unconfirmed reports, Lobsang Sherab, a monk from Sera Monastery,  died soon after his release from Lhasa's Sitru detention center in the fall of 2000.  He reportedly had been tortured while in detention, and also was poorly treated when imprisoned in the Trisam reeducation center from 1996 to 1998.

Ngawang Lochoe (or Dondrub Drolma), a nun at Sandrup Dolma Lhakhang temple, reportedly died in February after serving 9 years of a 10 year sentence for counterrevolutionary propaganda and instigation.

In February 2001, the TIN published a comprehensive study that listed a total of 197 Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns detained in China, a majority of whom were imprisoned in the TAR.  In April 2000, the director of the TAR Prison Administration Bureau told a visiting foreign delegation that there were over 100 monks and nuns imprisoned in the TAR's three prisons, of whom 90 percent were incarcerated for "endangering state security."  There were reports of imprisonment and abuse or torture of monks and nuns accused of political activism.  Prisoners who resisted political reeducation imposed by prison authorities, particularly demands to denounce the Dalai Lama and accept Gyaltsen Norbu, the boy recognized by the Government as the Panchen Lama, were beaten. The TIN reported severe beatings of several nuns serving long prison sentences, including Ngawang Choezom and Phuntsog Nyidrol, imprisoned in 1989 for singing pro-independence songs.  Government officials stated that because Phuntsog Nyidrol has shown repentance, her sentence has been reduced by one year. She is scheduled to be released in 2005.  Nun Ngawang Sangdrol also was beaten severely on multiple occasions and held in solitary confinement for an extended period.  Her prison sentence was extended for a third time in 1998, for taking part in demonstrations in prison, to a total of 21 years.  Ngawang Sangdrol's health continues to be of concern, despite government officials' assertions that her health is fine.

The Government continued to control the movements of Gendun Choekyi Nyima, whom the Dalai Lama recognized as the 11th Panchen Lama, along with his family.  He first disappeared in 1995 when he was six years old.  Government officials have claimed that the boy is under government supervision for his own protection and that he lives in Tibet and attends classes as a "normal schoolboy."  The location of Gendun Choekyi Nyima and his family remains unknown, and all requests from the international community for access to the boy to confirm his whereabouts and his well-being have been refused.  In November 1999, the Government denied press reports that Gendun Choekyi Nyima had died and had been cremated secretly; however, the Government continued to refuse international observers access to the boy.  In October 2000, Government officials showed members of a foreign delegation two photographs that purportedly depicted the boy.  Although the overwhelming majority of Tibetan Buddhists recognize the boy identified by the Dalai Lama as the Panchen Lama, Tibetan monks have claimed that they were forced to sign statements pledging allegiance to the boy the Government selected.  The Communist Party also urged its members to support the "official" Panchen Lama.

According to credible reports, Chadrel Rinpoche, who was accused by the Government of betraying state secrets while helping the Dalai Lama choose the incarnation of the 11th Panchen Lama, was imprisoned in a secret compound of a Sichuan prison in 1995.   In 2000, the Government told a visiting foreign delegation that he was "fine physically."  Chadrel Rinpoche's original prison sentence ended in May 2001, but he remained in detention at the end of the period covered by this report.

Following the December 1999 flight of the Karmapa, Urgyen Trinley Dorje, to India, authorities restricted access to the Tsurphu Monastery, the seat of the Karmapa, and reportedly increased "patriotic education" activities there. In several public statements, the Karmapa stated that he left because of controls on his movements and the refusal either to allow him to go to India to be trained by his spiritual mentors or to allow his mentors to come to him.  Following his flight, the TIN reported that at least two Tsurphu monks were arrested and that the Karmapa's parents were placed under surveillance.  Government officials denied that there were any arrests or that the Karmapa's parents have faced restrictions of any kind.   Nonetheless, in January 2001 the TIN reported that conditions at Tsurpu remain tense, with a permanent police presence and intensified restrictions on monks that appear to be aimed at discouraging them from following their spiritual teacher into exile.  The TIN also reported that no new monks are being permitted to enter the monastery.  In December 2000, foreign officials were allowed to visit the Tsurphu Monastery, where approximately 325 monks were said to be in residence.  There were few other visitors at the time; however, religious activity was observed.

There were reports that a few practitioners of Falun Gong have been detained in Tibet since Falun Gong was banned in July 1999. The official press reported that steps were also taken to stop the practice of Zhong Gong among PLA troops stationed in the TAR.

Forced Religious Conversion 

There were no reports of forced religious conversion, including of minor U.S. citizens who had been abducted or illegally removed from the United States, or of the Government's refusal to allow such citizens to be returned to the United States.

Section III. Societal Attitudes

Most Tibetans practice Tibetan Buddhism.  Although the Christian population in Tibet is extremely small, there is societal pressure aimed at converts, some of whom reportedly have been disinherited by their families.  

Section IV. U.S. Government Policy

The U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, and the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu made a concerted effort to encourage greater religious freedom in Tibet.  In regular exchanges with the Government, including with religious affairs officials, U.S. diplomatic personnel consistently urged both central government and local authorities to respect religious freedom in Tibet.  Embassy officials protested and sought further information on cases whenever there were credible reports of religious persecution or discrimination.  U.S. diplomatic personnel stationed in the country also regularly applied for permission to travel to Tibet to monitor conditions, including the status of religious freedom; however, the authorities were increasingly unwilling to allow such travel during the period covered by this report.  U.S. officials maintain contacts with a wide spectrum of religious figures, and the U.S. Department of State's nongovernmental contacts include experts on religion in Tibet and religious groups in the United States.  The U.S. Embassy, including the Ambassador and other senior officers, raised the cases of religious prisoners and reports of religious persecution with government officials.  Senior embassy officials met regularly with the head of the Religious Affairs Bureau and raised cases during those discussions; including those of Gendun Choekyi Nyima, the boy recognized by the Dalai Lama as the llth Panchen Lama, Abbot Chadrel Rinpoche, Ngawang Sangdrol, and other Tibetan monks and nuns.  Other embassy officers raised specific cases in meetings with officials from the State Council's Religious Affairs Bureau and the Party's United Front Work Department.

Hong Kong

The Basic Law (Hong Kong's mini-constitution) provides for freedom of religion, Hong Kong's Bill of Rights Ordinance prohibits religious discrimination, and the Government generally respects these provisions in practice. Although part of the People's Republic of China (PRC) since its July 1, 1997, reversion to PRC sovereignty, Hong Kong enjoys autonomy in the area of religious freedom under the "one country, two systems" concept that defines Hong Kong's relationship to the rest of China.

There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom during the period covered by this report, and government policy continued to contribute to the generally free practice of religion. The mainland Government and its representatives in Hong Kong opposed the activities of some Hong Kong religious and spiritual groups and individuals; however, Hong Kong authorities adhered to Hong Kong law and did not restrict those groups' activities. The Hong Kong Government's study of possible "anti-sect" legislation has raised concerns about possible Hong Kong Government action against the Falun Gong.

The generally amicable relationship among religions in society contributed to religious freedom. Six of the largest religious groups long have collaborated in a collegium on community affairs and make up a joint conference of religious leaders.

The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government in the context of its overall dialog and policy of promoting human rights. Consulate General officers meet regularly with religious leaders.

Section I. Religious Demography

Hong Kong occupies 422 square miles on more than 200 islands and the mainland, and its population is approximately 6.8 million. Approximately 43 percent of the population participate in some form of religious practice. The two largest religions are Buddhism and Taoism. Approximately 5 percent of the population are Protestant, 4 percent are Roman Catholic, and 1 percent are Muslim. There also are small numbers of Hindus, Sikhs, and Jews. Falun Gong representatives in Hong Kong state that their practitioners number approximately 500.

There are 1,300 Protestant congregations representing 50 denominations. The Baptists are the largest Protestant denomination, followed by the Lutherans. Other major denominations include Seventh-Day Adventists, Anglicans, Christian and Missionary Alliance, Church of Christ in China, Methodist, Pentecostal and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons).

There are approximately 600 Buddhist and Taoist temples, approximately 800 Christian churches and chapels, 4 mosques, a Hindu temple, a Sikh temple, and a synagogue. The Catholic population is served by 337 priests, 89 monks, and 530 nuns with traditional links to the Pope. More than 290,000 children are enrolled in 322 Catholic schools and kindergartens. The Assistant Secretary General of the Federation of Asian Bishops' conference has his office in Hong Kong. Protestant churches run 3 colleges and over 700 schools. Religious leaders tend to focus primarily on local spiritual, educational, social, and medical needs. However, some religious leaders and communities maintain active contacts with their mainland and international counterparts. Catholic and Protestant clergy have been invited to give seminars on the mainland, to teach classes there, and to develop two-way student exchanges; however, some mainland students have had difficulty obtaining approval from PRC authorities to depart mainland China. Numerous foreign missionary groups operate in and out of Hong Kong.

There has been marked growth in the number of independent churches since the 1970's.

A wide range of faiths is represented in the government, the judiciary, and the civil service. A large number of influential non-Christians receive Christian education.

Section II. Status of Religious Freedom

Legal/Policy Framework

The Basic Law (Hong Kong's mini-constitution, which spells out the "one country, two systems" concept) provides for freedom of religion, the Bill of Rights Ordinance prohibits religious discrimination by the Government, and the Government generally respects these provisions in practice. The Government at all levels generally protects religious freedom in full, and does not tolerate its abuse, either by governmental or private actors. Although part of the PRC since its July 1, 1997, reversion to PRC sovereignty, Hong Kong enjoys autonomy in the area of religious freedom under the "one country, two systems" concept that defines Hong Kong's relationship to the rest of China. The Government does not recognize a state religion, and a wide range of faiths is represented in the Government, the judiciary, and the civil service.

Religious groups are not required to register with the Government and are exempted specifically from the Societies Ordinance, which requires the registration of nongovernmental organizations (NGO's). Catholics recognize the Pope as the head of the Catholic Church. The spiritual movement widely known as Falun Gong, which does not consider itself a religion, is registered, practices freely, and holds regular public demonstrations against PRC policies. For example, Falun Gong practitioners held an international conference in a government-owned facility in January, held a number of public protests during President Jiang Zemin's visit in May, and regularly organized public demonstrations outside PRC offices. Other qigong groups, including Zhong Gong (which was banned in the PRC in late 1999), Xiang Gong, and Yan Xin Qigong, also are registered and practice freely in Hong Kong. Another group allegedly listed as an "evil cult" by the PRC, the Taiwan-based Guan Yin Method, also is registered legally and practices freely as well.

The Home Affairs Bureau is responsible for religion-related policy, but functions basically as a contact point for liaison and exchange of views. If a religious group wants to purchase a site to construct a school or hospital, it works with the Lands Department; otherwise, church-affiliated schools work with the Education and Manpower Bureau and church-affiliated hospitals work with the Health and Welfare Bureau. Draft educational reforms still under public discussion would require management committees of government-subsidized schools, including religious-sponsored ones, to allow broader community participation. Some religious groups that run schools have expressed concern over a required reduction, from 100 to 60 percent, of the committee members who can be named by the sponsoring body, thereby reducing a church's control over a given school's management.

Representatives of 6 of the largest religious groups (Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian, Roman Catholic, Muslim, and Anglican) comprise 40 members of the 800-member Election Committee, which chooses Hong Kong's Chief Executive and a number of Legislative Council members.

The Government grants public holidays to mark numerous special days on the traditional Chinese and Christian calendars, as well as Buddha's birthday.

Religious groups have a long history of cooperating with the Government on social welfare projects. For example, the Government often funds the operating costs of schools and hospitals built by religious groups.

Restrictions on Religious Freedom

Although under the Basic Law the PRC Government has no say over religious practices in Hong Kong, its leaders, official PRC representatives in Hong Kong and the two

PRC-owned newspapers in Hong Kong have criticized some Hong Kong religious and other spiritual groups and individuals. One Basic Law provision calls for ties between Hong Kong religious organizations and their mainland counterparts to be based on "nonsubordination, noninterference and mutual respect." Hong Kong religious leaders have noted that this provision could be used to limit such ties. In April 2000, mainland authorities reportedly accused a Hong Kong religious leader with violating this noninterference clause by criticizing mainland religious policies; since then, that leader has not been able to secure permission from PRC authorities to visit China. Many of the Hong Kong Catholic Church's contacts and exchanges with its mainland counterparts in the official Catholic church remained on hold because of tight restrictions on religious groups imposed by the PRC government. However, the traditional ties of the Hong Kong Catholic Church to the Vatican have not precluded its contacts with the official Catholic Church in the PRC.

In September 2000, Hong Kong-based Chinese officials urged Hong Kong's Catholic Church to keep "low key" its celebrations of the October 1 canonization by the Pope of 120 foreign missionaries and Chinese Catholics who had been martyred in China. However, the Hong Kong Catholic Church stated that it would not alter its fairly extensive plans to mark the occasion.

Although Falun Gong remains free to practice, organize, and conduct public demonstrations, concern about pressure from mainland authorities and their supporters to limit the group's activities increased during the period covered by this report. Articles critical of the group were published in PRC-owned Hong Kong newspapers. In December 2000 in Macau, PRC President Jiang Zemin stated that the Macau Government should not allow anyone to stage any activities in Macau against the Central Government or to split the country in any way; in his speech he made it clear that his comments applied equally to Hong Kong and Macau. The number of Falun Gong practitioners in Hong Kong is said to have dropped from around 1,000 to about 500 since the mainland crackdown began in mid-1999. Some Hong Kong publishing houses owned by mainland Chinese interests declined to continue publishing Falun Gong materials after the movement was banned on the mainland in July 1999, and some bookstores run by Chinese enterprises removed Falun Gong books from their shelves. In addition, Falun Gong organizers have reported reluctance on the part of some hotels, cultural centers, and other venues to lend or lease space for Falun Gong exhibitions or other activities. An international Falun Gong conference held at a Government-owned facility in January drew intense criticism by pro-PRC organizations.

Since the conference, there have been concerns about the possibility of the Hong Kong government taking action against the Falun Gong. Senior Hong Kong leaders have stated that the group is "no doubt an evil cult," and stated that the Government would not let the Falun Gong "abuse Hong Kong's freedoms and tolerance to affect public peace and order" in Hong Kong or in the mainland. Officials also have labeled the group "fanatical, superstitious, and devious." In the period prior to President Jiang Zemin's visit to Hong Kong for a major international business conference in May, the Hong Kong Government claimed that the local Falun Gong practitioners' plan for demonstrations during the visit was "a deliberate move to undermine the relationship between Hong Kong and the central government." The Hong Kong Government also barred entry into Hong Kong of approximately 100 Falun Gong practitioners, most of whom were from the United States, Australia, the UK and Taiwan. The Government cited undefined "security reasons" for the entry bans and denied that its actions were based on the individuals' religious beliefs or membership in any particular organization. Nonetheless, several hundred local and foreign Falun Gong practitioners were allowed to demonstrate freely on numerous occasions and at numerous venues during President Jiang's visit. Immediately following the May conference, concerns arose when press reports cited unnamed officials who claimed that the Hong Kong Government planned to propose "anti-cult" legislation. The Hong Kong Government confirmed that it was studying the possibility, but stated that it had "no plans at present" to introduce such legislation.

There were no reports of religious prisoners or detainees.

Forced Religious Conversion

There were no reports of forced religious conversion, including of minor U.S. citizens who had been abducted or illegally removed from the United States, or of the Government's refusal to allow such citizens to be returned to the United States.

Section III. Societal Attitudes

Relations among the various religious communities are amicable; however, a few Hong Kong Buddhist leaders and one evangelical Christian leader have issued statements critical of Falun Gong and warned against the danger of "cults."

Two ecumenical bodies facilitate cooperative work among the Protestant churches and encourage local Christians to play an active part in society. Six of the largest religious groups (Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian, Roman Catholic, Anglican and Muslim) long have collaborated in a collegium on community affairs and make up the joint conference of religious leaders.

Section IV. U.S. Government Policy

The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government in the context of its overall dialog and policy of promoting human rights. Consulate General officers at all levels have made clear U.S. Government interests in the full protection and maintenance of freedom of religion, conscience, expression, and association. Consulate General officers meet regularly with religious leaders and community representatives. 

Macau

On December 20, 1999, Macau reverted from Portuguese to Chinese administration (the handover) and became a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People's Republic of China (PRC) with a high degree of autonomy.  The Basic Law (mini-constitution) and 1998 Religious Freedom Ordinance provide for freedom of religion and prohibit discrimination on the basis of religious practice, and the Macau SAR Government generally respects these rights in practice. 

There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom during the period covered by this report.  While in general the Government does not interfere with the practices of Falun Gong, a spiritual movement that does not consider itself a religion, police harassed some practitioners in public parks during the period covered by this report. During the handover anniversary ceremonies in December 2000, police prevented foreign (i.e. non-Macau), practitioners of Falun Gong from entering Macau.

The generally amicable relationship among religions in society contributed to religious freedom.

The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government in the context of its overall dialog and policy of promoting human rights.  American officials assigned to the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong, which has responsibility for covering Macau, meet regularly with Macau religious leaders.

Section I. Religious Demography

Macau, on the south China coast, has a total area of 13 square miles and its population is approximately 450,000.  According to 1996 census figures, of the more than 355,000 persons surveyed, 60.9 percent had no religious affiliation, 16.8 percent were Buddhist, 6.7 percent were Roman Catholic, 1.7 percent were Protestant, and 13.9 percent were "other" (a combination of Buddhists, Taoists, and followers of Confucianism).  The number of active Falun Gong practitioners declined from approximately 100 persons to about 20 after the movement was banned in the PRC in July 1999.

Members of the Government, the judiciary, and the civil service belong to a wide range of faiths.

Missionaries are active in Macau, and represent a wide range of faiths with a majority being Catholic.

Section II: Status of Religious Freedom

Legal/Policy Framework

On December 20, 1999, Macau reverted from Portuguese to Chinese sovereignty and became a SAR of the PRC.  The Basic Law--the mini-constitution--provides for freedom of conscience, freedom of religious belief, and freedom to preach and to conduct and participate in religious activities.  The July 1998 Freedom of Religion Ordinance, which continued to apply after the handover, provides for freedom of religion, privacy of religious belief, freedom of religious assembly, freedom to hold religious processions, and freedom of religious education.  The Macau SAR Government generally respects these rights in practice although there was at least one exception.  There is no state religion.

The Religious Freedom Ordinance requires the registration of religious organizations.  This is handled by the SAR's Identification Services Office.  There have been no reports of discrimination in the registration process.

Missionaries are free to conduct missionary activities and are active in Macau.  More than 30,000 children are enrolled in Catholic schools, and a large number of influential non-Christians have received a Christian education.  Religious entities may use electronic media to preach.

The Freedom of Religion Ordinance stipulates that religious groups may maintain and develop relations with religious groups abroad.

The Catholic Church recognizes the Pope as the head of the Church.  In April 2001, the Holy See appointed a coadjutor Bishop for the Macau diocese.  Editorials in the local Catholic newspaper noted this as an example of the SAR's Government's independence and respect for religious freedom as provided for in the Basic Law.

Restrictions on Religious Freedom

Practitioners of Falun Gong have not applied for registration with the Identification Services Office because a Macau lawyer advised them that their application for registration would not be approved as the Falun Gong was banned in the PRC in July 1999.  The Identification Services Office has not issued any instructions regarding the Falun Gong, and senior SAR Government officials have reaffirmed that local practitioners of Falun Gong may continue their legal activities without government interference.

According to Falun Gong practitioners, the group's materials, available for sale in two Macau stores before Falun Gong was banned on the mainland in July 1999, were removed from the shelves by store management.  However, the Government has taken no action to limit their availability.

Abuses of Religious Freedom

During the period covered by this report, Falun Gong practitioners continued their daily exercises in public parks; however, they were subjected to periodic harassment by the police.  Police photographed practitioners and occasionally checked their identification documents.  On at least one occasion, the police took a practitioner to the police station to check his documents rather than conducting the check on site.

In December 2000, Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited Macau to celebrate the 1-year anniversary of Macau's return to Chinese sovereignty.  During his visit, Jiang stated that the Macau Government should not allow anyone to stage any activities in Macau against the Central Government or to split the country in any way.  Dozens of Falun Gong practitioners and democracy activists from Hong Kong, Australia and the United Kingdom were barred from entering the SAR during the visit.  Macau authorities claimed that this was because they were planning to participate in an illegal demonstration.  The Public Assembly Law grants Macau residents, but not foreigners or PRC nationals resident outside of Macau, the right to demonstrate.  Police at the port of entry allegedly beat one Australian practitioner.  A government investigation into the incident rejected allegations of police brutality, and the practitioner did not appeal the results.  Local practitioners were allowed to demonstrate at a park about a mile from the anniversary celebrations in December 2000.  

There were no reports of religious prisoners or detainees.

Forced Religious Conversion

There were no reports of forced religious conversion, including of minor U.S. citizens who had been abducted or illegally removed from the United States, or of the Government's refusal to allow such citizens to be returned to the United States.

Section III.  Societal Attitudes

Relations among the various religious communities are amicable.  Citizens generally are very tolerant of other religious views and practices.  Public ceremonies and dedications often include prayers by both Christian and Buddhist groups.

Section IV.  U.S. Government Policy

The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government in the context of its overall dialog and policy of promoting human rights.  Officers from the Consulate General in Hong Kong protested the harassment of Falun Gong practitioners in December 2000 and January 2001, stating that the ability of Falun Gong practitioners in Macau to practice without restriction is an important element of religious freedom, civil liberties and autonomy.  Officers from the Consulate General in Hong Kong meet regularly with Macau religious leaders.



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