For the first time in more than half a century, two Christian churches will be built in the capital city.
At the same time, plans to renovate two ancient temples for Buddhist and Taoist religious rites are in the works.
It is the first time churches are going up in the city since the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949.
One of them will be located in Chaoyang District, the other in Fengtai District in southwestern Beijing, said Hou Xiaoming, an official with the Beijing Religious Bureau.
He said construction started in mid-December. Both churches are 1,500 square meters each and will be finished by Christmas.
The projects follow a proposal put forward by Na Cang, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) Beijing Committee, the city's top advisory body.
Na said during the first session of the 10th CPPCC Beijing Committee early last year that the city seriously lacks ritual places and the current distribution of religious sites is unbalanced.
He pointed out that Beijing has only five temples for Buddhist rituals, and only one of them -- the Lama Temple -- performs the rites of Tibetan Buddhism or Lamaism.
Na said thousands of lamaists and visitors visit the Lama Temple every day during Spring Festival, overcrowding the space and creating a high risk of accidents.
Other than the two churches under construction, the Tianning Temple, one of the oldest temples in the capital, built during the Northern Wei Dynasty (AD 386-534), will get a facelift and will be opened to Buddhist rites, said Hou.
And the 1,371-year-old Huoshen Temple will also start holding Taoist rituals after restoration work is completed, Hou said.
Na's proposal was one of more than 1,200 motions put forward by CPPCC members.
Non-Communist parties such as the China Democratic League and the Jiu San Society have also put forward proposals.
"More than 70 per cent of the proposals have been adopted or partly accepted by government organs in decision making," said Ren Yingying, vice-director of the office that handles proposals under the CPPCC Beijing Committee.
Ren said government organs welcome criticism and suggestions of CPPCC members.
The municipal Public Security Bureau even opened a "through train" for members to submit their opinions through the Internet.
The second session of the 10th CPPCC Beijing Committee is scheduled between February 15 and 19 before the national CPPCC session in March.
So far, the committee has received nearly 100 proposals, said Ren.
She said the proposals covered a wide range of issues, including regional economic development, traffic, health care, environmental protection, social security, employment and social credibility.
"The development of the non-State economy is one of the key issues for the session this year, and most of the democratic parties have put forward special proposals on the topic," said Ren.
By pointing out social problems, conveying public complaints and submitting suggestions, the CPPCC Beijing Committee, a watchdog over the city government, is playing a big role in decision-making, Ren added.
(China Daily February 3, 2004)