"We should fully follow the policy on freedom of religious belief, implement the regulations on religious affairs, and conduct thorough research on important and difficult issues related to religion," The China Daily quoted him, as saying. "We should guide religious leaders and believers to improve their lives, and make full use of their positive role in promoting social harmony," he added in a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the first session of the 11th CPPCC National Committee.
Figures from the State Administration for Religious Affairs suggest that there are more than 100 million believers in the country, mostly Buddhists, Taoists, Protestants, Catholics and Muslims. Among them are 18 million Muslims, 10 million Protestants and four million Catholics.
Ding Wenfang, a member of the 11th National Committee of the CPPCC, said fellow members should strengthen national unity and promote religious harmony. Ding, also vice-president of the China Islamic Association, said: "The unity of the 56 ethnic groups in China and religious harmony are necessary to build a harmonious society."
The first session of the 11th CPPCC National Committee started in the Great Hall of the People on Mar 4, with 2,195 members in attendance. They will discuss major issues related to national development during the annual session scheduled to conclude on March 14.