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Tough times today may herald tougher times to come

HONG KONG (UCAN): China convened its 19th National Congress of the Communist Party on October 18.
 
Regarded as a major high profile gathering every five years, this time round it is expected that the president, Xi Jinping, will be endorsed for a second term in the top job of the Communist Party.
 
But this may not be welcome news for religious minorities on the mainland, as to say it has been a tough year for them would be a gross understatement.
 

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China’s thought police having busy year

BEIJING (SE): Beijing Normal University opened its academic year in September minus an assistant professor of classical Chinese, Shi Jiepeng.
 
National Public Radio USA reported that Shi was told he was fired in late July for expressing views outside the mainstream of society, which still puzzles him.
 
He told the American broadcaster, “Sure, my views are a bit different from the mainstream and from official views. But an open society should be able to tolerate them.”
 

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Approaching China with healthy realism

HONG KONG (UCAN): Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung, the new bishop of Hong Kong, has described his approach to dealing with China as one of healthy realism that must consider ongoing talks between the Vatican and Beijing.
 
The 71-year-old Bishop Yeung was keen to remind people that he is neither a diplomat nor engaged in Vatican-Beijing negotiations and added that he would not rock the boat in terms of relations between the Church and China.
 

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Missing bishop resurfaces

WENZHOU (UCAN): Bishop Shao Zhuming, from Wenzhou, who has been missing since security officials detained him in April, just before Easter, has resurfaced at a Beijing hospital. Through a WeChat message, the bishop from the unofficial Church community said he was scheduled to have ear surgery on September 11.
 
“Many thanks for all who pray for me, especially for the smoothness of my surgery today,” the bishop wrote in his message.
 

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Kazakh students detained in Xinjiang

HOTAN (UCAN): Authorities in China’s Xinjiang region are thought to be detaining ethnic minority Kazakhs for wearing Islamic clothing and praying, a practice forbidden by the Communist Party on university campuses.
 
Radio Free Asia reported Kazakh sources as estimating that more than 20 Kazakhs have gone missing—believed detained—and details are only available on a few of them.
 

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Church demolition sparks fireworks in Shanxi

CHANGZHI (SE): Dozens of people turned out on August 29 in an effort to stop the demolition of a church in Wangcun, a few kilometres from Changzhi, in southeastern Shanxi province.
 
AsiaNews reported that people cried out, “Jesus save me!” and “Mother Mary, have pity on us!” as they tried to obstruct a bulldozer and the police who were trying to protect it as it carried its destructive mission.
 

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Bans on children attending Church

HONG KONG (UCAN): The Communist Party is continuing to tighten its grip on the practice of religion with at least four regional governments across China issuing notices in late August restricting children from joining Christian groups or attending religious activities.
 

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Monks’ residence gets the ax

HONG KONG (SE): The government in the Sichuan province of China has begun pulling down 2,000 residences used by Tibetan clergy at the Yachen Gar Buddhist Centre.
 
Radio Free Asia reports that it is expected that an equal number of monks and nuns will be kicked out of the complex by the end of the year. “Chinese authorities ordered the demolition of 2,000 houses of monks and nuns at Yachen Buddhist Centre this year,” Radio Free Asia was told.
 

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A threatened life of service

Theresa is an unusual type of person in the Catholic Church. Although everyone in her parish in China addresses her as Sister and recognises her as a religious, she is in fact a lay person, although not quite the conventional type.
 
Theresa belongs to the tradition of consecrated virgins, Catholic women who choose to remain celibate for their whole lives. They do not join a religious congregation and usually work under the direction of the local bishop.