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Beijing Renovates Religious Venues
The Beijing municipal government has allocated 120 million yuan altogether in recent years to return its churches to full working order.

Ji Wenyuan, deputy director of the Beijing Administration of Religious Affairs, told Xinhua that the number of religious venues operating in Beijing had increased from four twenty years ago to the present 105, including Catholic and other Christian churches, Buddhist and Taoist temples and Islamic mosques.

In recent years, Beijing has expended 31 million yuan to renovate the Catholic South Hall and East Hall, and Chongwenmen Christian Church among others.

The grounds of those churches have also been upgraded during the renovations.

The municipal government has also built a new Catholic seminary in the western suburbs of the capital with allocation of 17 million yuan.

The Catholic South Hall at Wangfujing in particular has become an attraction in this downtown area of Beijing since being renovated.

According to China's religious policy, religious groups should sustain their development through income generated from operating their properties. The work of affirming property rights in Beijing will be finished by the end of next year.

"Some of the churches have been used as schools and stores," said Hua Qian, an official from the Beijing Administration of Religious Affairs. "Their religious function must be resumed and their religious property rights must be affirmed."

With 923 religious properties altogether in the city, the affirmation of their property rights will help religious groups earn a stable income.

(Xinhua News Agency August 11, 2002)

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