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Tuesday, March 28, 2000, updated at 08:59(GMT+8)


Chinese Religious Leader Denies Religious Persecution in China

A prominent Chinese religious leader Monday refuted the allegation by U.S. State Department that religious persecution was increasing in China.

"I don't think this is the case. I deeply regret that the U.S. government made allegation without too much real investigation and knowing the real situation," said Han Wenzao, President of China Christian Council(CCC).

The U.S. government, made the allegation against China in State Department's human rights report of the year 1999, is planning to lodge a draft resolution concerning China at the United Nations conference on human rights in Geneva.

Han Wenzao told a press conference in the Chinese Embassy in the United States that Chinese people enjoy religious freedom guaranteed in the constitution.

The religious leader, who is currently visiting the U.S. as head of a CCC delegation, said 130,000 churches were reopened and 23 million Bibles were printed in China by the end of last year. Han Wenzao said there is a "big deep misunderstanding" in the west about the religious situation in China.

However, he acknowledged that cases concerning violation of religious rights do occur from time to time in China. "You can't expect implementation of policies will be the same everywhere," he said. "Such cases could happen, did happen and will happen from time to time, here and there." he said. "It is our duty to refer such cases and complaints to the upper level and ask for investigation and rectification," he said. Han said the religious freedom in China was not affected by China's crackdown on Falungong cult.

"Falungong has nothing to do with religion," he said, " The CCC delegation held a meeting with representatives of the Presbyterian Church of the U.S. and discussed cooperation of the churches between the two countries in Lousville of Kentucky State from March 19 to 21.

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