Hotels in Beijing should provide Bibles for foreign visitors during the upcoming Beijing Olympic Games, a Chinese political adviser said.
"The majority of the foreign visitors expected during the 2008 Games have religious beliefs, and we should cater to their needs," said Liu Bainian, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
Liu, vice-president of the China Patriotic Catholic Association, said on Thursday the service could also help clear up foreigners' misunderstandings about China in terms of religion.
He added that the Bible is a must at hotel rooms in foreign countries, especially in Europe.
Beijing is expected to receive about 500,000 to 550,000 overseas visitors during the 29th Summer Olympiad, which opens on August 8, 2008 and will run until August 24.
Liu said authorities should encourage local Christians to donate Bibles for temporary use during the Games, after which they would be returned.
"The China Patriotic Catholic Association could also help collect Bibles," he said.
Zhang Liwei, vice-secretary of the Christian Amity Foundation, which operates the country's sole Bible printing house, told China Daily that his foundation would try its best to meet demand.
According to Zhang, the Bible is published in Chinese and English in China, as well as in eight ethnic minority languages including Miao and Korean.
At least 40 million copies of the Bible have been distributed across the Chinese mainland since 1980, said Cao Shengjie, president of the China Christian Council. Around 2.5 million copies of the Bible have been published in China annually over the past decade, said Cao.
The Bible first arrived in China 1,500 years ago, while the first Chinese-language edition appeared in the early 19th century.
The Protestant church on the Chinese mainland is one of the fastest growing in the world today, with the number of Christians having reached more than 16 million and still growing fast.
The country also has more than 5 million Catholics.
The Chinese capital currently has over 700 star-rated hotels and the number is expected to reach 800, with 130,000 rooms, before the Olympics, tourism authorities said.
Besides star-rated hotels, Beijing has more than 4,000 non-rated ones that can be upgraded.
(China Daily March 12, 2007)