China Aid Association
Recently, through Googling the English key words of “Hu stresses full implementation of free religious policy”, you may find abundant links related to the news in an English version about the plenary collective study session on religion in the politburo of the Communist Party of China held by Chairman Hu Jintao in Beijing on Dec. 28 of 2007. Xinhua News website, the official Chinese government news agency, which is also called “the tongue and mouth” of the Chinese Communist Party, stands as the top one. The second news link is the website of People’s Daily, the third one is the Chinese Embassy website in the US, and the fourth one, is the official Tibet website of China. The news on the links used the same Xinhuang version with the title “Hu stresses full implementation of free religious policy”, and the first sentence as the argument: “Chinese President Hu Jintao on Wednesday reiterated a policy of free religious belief while stressing law-abiding management on religious affairs and support to self-governance of religious groups”. The interesting thing is, if we compare the English version with the Chinese version of the news from Xinhua News website and other Chinese websites, we can find out they are quite different in the title, the first sentence, tone, and the main argument. Besides, the great difference is that in the English version, it adds the word “free” in the title and the first sentence. The news used the word “free” and “freedom” four times in the English version in the outline, but only once in the Chinese version in the sub-position under one paragraph.
The title in the Chinese version is “Hu Jintao stresses full implementation of the Party’s essential religious and actively doing a good job on religious affairs in the new situation. The first sentence is “Hu stresses, to fulfill our goal of development, we must unite all the powers we can unite and activate all the positive factors we can activate. Then he talked about the government doing a good job on religious affairs in the new situations with new problems. In the later part of the news, it mentioned that Hu “reiterated a policy of free religious belief while stressing law-abiding management on religious affairs and support to self-governance of religious groups” in a sub-position of the paragraph. In the English version it has more content such as: “The CPC is atheistic but allows freedom of religious beliefs. China is home to 100 million religious faithful, largely Buddhists, Taoists, Christians, Catholics and Islamite’s.”
Through the different titles, the first sentence, paragraph, and the different order of the contents, plus the different words, readers can get a dramatically different impression from the two versions because of the different wording of translation. In Hu’s three point teachings or guiding principles for this study session in the Chinese version, the first one emphasized “to insist and continue the Party’s essential policy on religious affairs”. The second one is “to enforce the managing work on the religious masses.” The third one is “to enforce the construction of the religious workers team.” In the Chinese version, the main argument of the news and the meeting is to insist or continue the Party’s existing essential religious policy which they call “free religious policy”. It mentions the Chinese word “insist” ten times, but not once in the English version. For example, it stresses an insistence on Marxism, the theory of Deng Xiaoping and Three Represents Theory of Jiang Zemin, the subjection of religious masses to the Party and the Chinese socialist system (it means the Communism system) as the principles of the religious policy. The Party repeated that kind of “free religious policy” often in the propaganda of the last six decades. But through reading the English version, the readers are easily led to a conclusion that the Party’s new policy stresses religious freedom under legal protection. Especially as the English version mentioned “At the 17th CPC National Congress ending in late October, the Party for the first time in its history has mentioned the word ‘religion’ in an amendment to its Constitution,”, but in the Chinese version, there are no such words or meaning of “for the first time in its history” (because the Chinese readers know the
Party’s history well). That is why some English readers received the impression of a new trend and hopeful change in this study meeting related to the religious policy. For example, see the Milan (Asia News) quoted by Angelo Lazzarotto (http://chinaaid.org/2008/01/01/hu-jintao-on-religious-freedom/).
However, by using the word “new” in the Chinese version eleven times, for example, it mentioned “new situation” six times, and the participation of specialists in Christianity who were invited to the meeting, (one of them has a good reputation in the Western world) we can be sure of some new information in this meeting and in the news but surely not new information or policy for more religious freedom. What then is new? In my article (in the Chinese version, 12/23/2007 http://www.peacehall.com/news/gb/pubvp/2007/12/200712270238.shtml; http://chinaaid.org/chinese_site/press_release_detail.php?id=4112 ), I analyzed the “new information” without any new policy in the meeting and the news. Many people in the world especially in the media know that 2007 was the worst year in the last two decades for Christianity in China because of the mass arrests and large scale persecution targeting the House Church Movement. The article in the Times online version on December 17 of 2007 definitely made Hu and his government very nervous for fear of the Western “masses” knowing the religious persecutions in China in the year of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The magazine mentioned the two arrest cases of the well known Christian leaders, Mr. Zhou Heng (Urumqi) and Mr. Shi Wei-han (Beijing), through quoting the speech of Mr. Bob Fu, the president of China Aid Association (http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1695279,00.html?xid=feed-cnn-world ). Hu Jintao swiftly held the Party’s study meeting for religious policy on the next day. Then on the 19th, the news in both versions flooded search engines with “free religious policy” as key words in the English version. The Chinese government is trying to lead the English world, especially the American people (not the American government, because it knows of the persecutions in
China well) to believe that they want to give Chinese, including minorities, religious freedom. The Chinese government wants to use this news and all other propaganda, to convince the American people to vote “rightly”, and to influence those American presidential candidates to speak “rightly” about
China in the 2008 election year. The propaganda and the English translations might succeed.
Yet finally we could question, if Hu and the Party really meant more religious freedom, why do the nationwide persecutions continue so harshly? Why were Christians arrested in the summer of 2007 forced to spend Christmas and New Year’s in prison, after the 17th CPC National Congress met to discuss the “new” religious policy. Why are those Christians still in detention and labor camps today? And why does the arrest of Christians in
China continue to seriously increase in the new year as China Aid Association has reported?
The links of the news in English version:
1. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2007-12/19/content_7281457.htm2. http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90776/6323839.html
The links of the news in Chinese version:
China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
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