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China urges promoting equality among different religions, cultures
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The Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations Zhang Yesui said at a UN conference here Thursday that it is necessary to promote equality among different religions and cultures on the basis of mutual respect.

"Religious and cultural diversity is an asset of the human society and an important driving force for social development, cultural exchange and world peace," Zhang said. "All religions and cultures are the crystallization of human wisdom and have contributed to the progress and development of human society and as such, they deserve equal respect."

The two-day UN conference on culture of peace was attended by heads of state and senior officials from over 70 countries including the United States, Britain and Israel. It is an initiative put forward by Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, aimed at hastening action on some of the most urgent challenges facing the world.

"China believes that it is necessary to respect differences in order to peacefully address conflicts," the ambassador said. "Conflicts are often originated from the alienation, discrimination, fear, even hatred caused by differences. The Chinese government has always opposed extremism and all forms of discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance based on religion, race or any other grounds, as well as the attempt to link terrorism to a specific nation, ethnic or religion."

Noting that China firmly supports and actively participates in the efforts of the international community to promote interfaith and intercultural dialogue and cooperation, the ambassador also stressed the importance of education, which he believes is a useful mean to help young people adopt a correct perception of civilization and the world, and the media, which he suggests should voluntarily take the social responsibility to be the messenger of culture of peace and to promote the tolerance, understanding and harmony of the society.

Zhang also briefed the participants on China's cultural and religious policies. "The Constitution of the People's Republic of China has established the principles of freedom of religious belief, equality of all religions and separation of church and state. China respects the freedom of religion, pursues the policy of autonomy in handling religious affairs and has promulgated the "Regulations on Religious Affairs," the purpose of which is to maintain religious and social harmony.

China firmly supports and actively participates in the efforts of the international community to promote interfaith and intercultural dialogue and cooperation, he added.

UN General Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann chaired the conference, which was also attended by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

(Xinhua News Agency November 14, 2008)

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