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Religious Leaders Urged to Promote Social Harmony
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China's top political advisor on Monday told leaders of Chinese religious groups that they could try to promote various "positive religious concepts" to assist the government's drive to build a harmonious society.

Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, invited leaders of China's religious groups to Zhongnanhai, the CPC's compound in downtown Beijing, ahead of the coming Spring Festival, China's lunar New Year.

Jia, who supervises the country's religious affairs, said religion in China had made remarkable progress in the past year and it was important to maintain the harmony and stability in the religious circle in 2007, when the Communist Party of China is scheduled to hold its 17th National Congress.

"It's very important to make full use of the 'positive elements' in religion," Jia said, asking the religious leaders to promote the religious ideas and acts that can help achieve social harmony and dissuade believers from taking "disharmonious behaviors".

The concepts of ethnic unity and harmony should be advocated among religious believers and their petitions and demands should be heard, said Jia, who is also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee.

He also asked religious group leaders to "support the government's measures to prevent and crack down on separatist activities instigated and fanned by "overseas hostile forces".

The wisdom and energy of religious believers should better be directed to activities that make their life more prosperous, Jia said.

The official estimate of China's religious believers is 100 million. But, in a recent survey, experts say the true number may be triple.

According to the report, Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism, Christianity and Islam are the five major religions, making up about 67.4 percent of religious Chinese.

The religious leaders that met Jia in Zhongnanhai were Fu Tieshan, chairman of the China Patriotic Catholic Association, Yi Cheng, president of the Buddhist Association, Ren Farong, president of the Taoist Association; Chen Guangyuan, president of the Islamic Association, Ji Jianhong, chairperson of the National Committee of Three-Self Patriotic Movement of Protestant Churches in China, and Cao Shengjie, president of the China Christian Council.

(Xinhua News Agency February 13, 2007)

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