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Thursday, August 02, 2001, updated at 08:30(GMT+8)

Religious Freedom Fully Respected

Chinese religious researchers Wednesday stressed the rights of the millions of Chinese believers.

"We do not interfere in the religious freedom of individuals, and we believe this kind of freedom is a part of their basic rights and fundamental interests,'' said a report summing up the Society of Religious Studies of China's work in the last five years.

"Further efforts to approach religious studies in a scientific, theoretic and standardized manner will help the government in making policies that can better conform to the interests of religious believers as well as atheists.''

According to official statistics, China now has more than 100 million believers of various religions, including Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism.

The Society of Religious Studies of China is the largest body studying religion in the country, containing academics, government officials and practitioners of various religions. The study of religions has in recent years also attracted those involved in the business of religious culture.

The society welcomed these newcomers, saying that they have contributed their realistic perspectives.

The society, at its fifth national congress, Wednesday elected Zhuo Xinping, a researcher with the Institute of World Religions under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences as its new president.

Zhuo pledged that during his tenure, he would promote exchanges with related departments and institutions so as to set up an academic network for religious studies in China.

The society will also enhance international co-operation, Zhuo added.

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Chinese religious researchers Wednesday stressed the rights of the millions of Chinese believers.

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