The Basic Law, or Constitution, provides for freedom of religion, and its Ordinance prohibits religious discrimination. The Government generally respected these provisions in practice.
There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom by the Government during the period covered by this report, and Government policy continued to support the generally free practice of religion.
There were a few reports of societal abuses and discrimination based on religious belief or practice. Six of the largest religious groups have long collaborated in a collegium col·le·gi·um
n. pl. col·le·gi·a or col·le·gi·ums
1. An executive council or committee of equally empowered members, especially one supervising an industry, commissariat, or other organization in the Soviet Union. on community affairs and make up a joint conference of religious leaders.
The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government as part of its overall policy to promote human rights.
SECTION I. RELIGIOUS DEMOGRAPHY
The Hong Kong Hong Kong (hŏng kŏng), Mandarin Xianggang, special administrative region of China, formerly a British crown colony (2005 est. pop. 6,899,000), land area 422 sq mi (1,092 sq km), adjacent to Guangdong prov. Special Administrative Region A special administrative region may be:
or Falun Dafa
Controversial spiritual movement combining healthful exercises with meditation for the purpose of “moving to higher levels.” Its teachings draw from Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, and the Western New Age movement. stated that their practitioners numbers approximately 500; however, Government officials claimed the number is lower.
Protestants have 1,400 congregations representing 50 denominations. The largest Protestant denomination is the Baptist Church, followed by the Lutheran Church. Other major denominations include Seventh-day Adventists, Anglicans, Christian and Missionary Alliance The Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) is an Evangelical Protestant denomination within Christianity.
Founded by Rev. Albert Benjamin Simpson in 1887, the Christian & Missionary Alliance did not start off as a denomination, but rather began as two distinct parachurch groups, the Church of Christ in China, Methodists, Pentecostals, and the Salvation Army. The Church of Jesus Christ Church of Jesus Christ may refer to:
There are approximately 600 Buddhist and Taoist temples, an estimated 800 Christian churches and chapels, 5 mosques, 4 synagogues, 1 Hindu temple, and 1 Sikh temple. Catholics are served by 1 cardinal (appointed in 2006), 1 bishop, 297 priests, 66 monks, and 516 nuns, all of whom maintain traditional links to the Vatican. The assistant secretary general of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conference had his office in the region. Along with its apostolic work, the Catholic Church engages in a broad array of social service activities. It operates 313 schools and kindergartens that enrolled more than 264,000 children. In addition it operates 6 hospitals, 15 clinics, 37 social centers, 18 hostels, 13 homes for the aged, and 19 rehabilitation centers.
Protestant churches are also deeply involved in education, health care, and social welfare. Protestant organizations operate three post-secondary institutions: Chung Chi College The Chung Chi College (Chinese: 崇基學院) is one of the four constituent colleges of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), and one of the three original colleges that joined to form the CUHK in 1963. at the Chinese University of Hong Kong The motto of the university is "博文約禮" in Chinese, meaning "to broaden one's intellectual horizon and keep within the bounds of propriety". , Hong Kong Baptist University Upon the retirement of Dr. Tse in 2001 after 30 years of educational and social services to the University and Hong Kong, Prof. Ng Ching-fai was appointed as the third president of the University. The chairman of the University Council and Court is Mr. WONG Ying Wai, Wilfred. , and Lingnan University. As of November 2006, they also ran 160 secondary schools, 206 primary schools, 273 kindergartens, and 116 nurseries. In addition they operated more than 30 theological seminaries and Bible schools, 30 Christian publishing houses, 70 Christian bookshops, 7 hospitals, 18 clinics, 35 homes for the elderly, 47 centers for the disabled, and scores of youth and day care centers. Two ecumenical bodies in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Chinese Christian Churches Union and the Hong Kong Christian Council, facilitate cooperative work among Protestant and other churches across the HKSAR. These bodies also have a number of affiliated organizations, such as the Hong Kong Christian Service, Hong Kong Christian Industrial Committee The Hong Kong Christian Industrial Committee (CIC) (Chinese: 香港基督教工業委員會) is a non-governmental pressure group that focuses on labor welfare policy and industrial safety. , United Christian Medical Service, Christian Family Service Centre, and Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital.
Various Muslim organizations also offer medical care, education, and financial aid to the needy. Some religious leaders and communities maintained active contacts with their mainland and international counterparts. Catholic and Protestant clergy were invited to give seminars and teach classes on the mainland and to develop two-way student exchanges on an ongoing basis.
The number of Falun Gong practitioners was reported to have dropped from approximately 1,000 to an estimated 500 since the crackdown on the mainland began in mid-1999, although Government officials claimed that the number was lower for both periods.
Numerous foreign missionary groups operate in and out of the region.
A wide range of faiths was represented in the Government, the judiciary, and the civil service. A large number of influential non-Christians were educated in Christian schools.
SECTION II. STATUS OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
The Basic Law provides for freedom of religion, and the Bill of Rights Ordinance prohibits religious discrimination by the HKSAR Government. The Government does not tolerate the abuse of religious freedom, either by governmental or private actors. Hong Kong has been a part of the People's Republic of China (PRC) since July 1, 1997, but according to the Basic Law the HKSAR enjoys a high degree of autonomy in the area of religious freedom under the "one country, two systems" concept. The Government does not recognize a state religion.
Religious groups are not required to register with the Government and are exempted specifically from the Societies Ordinance, which requires the registration of nongovernmental organizations. Catholics recognize the pope as the head of the Roman Catholic Church Roman Catholic Church, Christian church headed by the pope, the bishop of Rome (see papacy and Peter, Saint). Its commonest title in official use is Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. .
The Home Affairs Bureau The introduction to this article provides insufficient context for those unfamiliar with the subject matter.
Please help [ improve the introduction] to meet Wikipedia's layout standards. You can discuss the issue on the talk page. functions as a liaison between religious groups and the Government. Religious groups wishing to purchase a site to construct a school or hospital initiate their request with the Lands Department. Church-affiliated schools make their request to the Education and Manpower Bureau The Education and Manpower Bureau (Traditional Chinese: 教育統籌局; Pinyin: Jiàoyùtǒngchóujú; Jyutping: gaau3 juk6 tung2 cau4 guk6; abbr. . Church-affiliated hospitals do so with the Health and Welfare Bureau. In February 2006 a Muslim group comprised primarily of residents of South Asian ethnicity complained that the Government had unfairly levied a $1.3 million (HK$10 million) land use fee on the construction of a new mosque. They argued that a similar-sized project by an ethnic Chinese charity was charged a fee of only $130 (HK$1,000). The Government denied that it had discriminated against the Muslim group on the basis of religion and contended that the two projects fell into different zoning categories.
Although not alleging religious discrimination, a Jewish group complained that the Government was insensitive to its attempts to find a location in the expensive central district to build a new synagogue.
The Election Committee Ordinance stipulates that the 6 largest religious groups in Hong Kong hold 40 seats on the 800-member Election Committee, which chooses the chief executive. The bodies that represent the largest religious groups are the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong, Chinese Muslim Cultural and Fraternal Association, Hong Kong Christian Council, Hong Kong Taoist Association, The Confucian Academy, and The Hong Kong Buddhist Association Hong Kong Buddhist Association (Chinese: 香港佛敎聯合會) is a Buddhist organisation in Hong Kong founded in 1945. It promotes Buddhism in Hong Kong and provides a series of charity services in Hong Kong, including education, medical, child . These 40 representatives are chosen by the leaders of the various religious groups.
The Government grants public holidays to mark special religious days on the traditional Chinese and Christian calendars, including Christmas and Buddha's Birthday.
Religious groups have a long history of cooperating with the Government on social welfare projects. For example, the Government often funds the operating costs of schools and hospitals built by religious groups. The law requires each school that receives Government funding to establish a management board. Forty percent of the management board's members can be elected by teacher and parent groups. The sponsoring body can appoint the remaining 60 percent. In 2003 the Government passed the Education (Amendment) Ordinance which will affect 300 Catholic schools that enroll approximately 25 percent of the student population. Prior to the Education Ordinance, the management of each school was responsible for selecting all of its members. The ordinance, however, stipulates that 40 percent of each school's management must be elected representatives of teachers, parents, alumni, or other members of the community. The ordinance, which becomes effective in 2010, mandates that every school (not just those which receive Government funding) have its own incorporated management committee comprised of elected parents, teachers, and alumni. The diocese unsuccessfully sued to have the ordinance overturned in the Court of First Instance and may appeal the decision.
The Falun Gong is registered under the Societies Ordinance. Falun Gong is generally free to practice, organize, conduct nonviolent public demonstrations, and attract public attention through parades, pamphleteering, and manning booths to publicize its movement. During the period covered by this report, Falun Gong regularly conducted public protests against the repression of fellow practitioners in the PRC. Other spiritual exercise groups, including Xiang Gong and Yan Xin Qigong Qigong Definition
Qigong (pronounced "chee-gung," also spelled chi kung) is translated from the Chinese to mean "energy cultivation" or "working with the life energy. , were registered and practiced freely.
In February 2006 police authorized two marches by the Muslim community to protest the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in Europe. The cartoons sparked violence worldwide, but both marches were peaceful.
Restrictions on Religious Freedom
Government policy and practice contributed to the generally free practice of religion. Under the Basic Law, the PRC Government does not have jurisdiction over religious practices in the HKSAR.
The Basic Law calls for ties between the region's religious organizations and their mainland counterparts to be based on "nonsubordination, noninterference, and mutual respect."
In March 2006 the Vatican appointed then Bishop Joseph Zen, the head of the Catholic Diocese, to the post of cardinal. The PRC Government responded by warning Cardinal Zen to refrain from commenting on the region's political matters. Despite this, Cardinal Zen remained an outspoken critic of both mainland and HKSAR policies and a strong advocate of religious freedom.
In March 2007 the Court of First Instance dismissed an application for judicial review brought by four Taiwanese Falun Gong practitioners and the Falun Dafa Association of Hong Kong and affirmed the city's power to regulate who enters the city. The practitioners and more than 80 other followers of Falun Gong were turned away when they arrived for a conference in February 2003. They alleged that they were stopped because of their beliefs and that the city was acting on behalf of mainland authorities, who have designated the group an illegal "evil cult." The Government argued that the four were denied entry for organizing disruptive activities that would threaten public order. As of June 2007, the Hong Kong Association of Falun Gong planned to request discovery in the case over why the members were denied entry. The court found that the practitioners were not aliens under the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance, which defines Taiwan as part of China. "Aliens, and those in the same position as aliens, can be refused permission without reasons given or a hearing," the ruling justice said. In April 2007 one of the plaintiffs charged that "China's dirty hand has interfered in Hong Kong, which used to have values of freedom," according to The Epoch Times. Several hundred Falun Gong practitioners were reportedly permitted to enter that weekend.
According to Falun Gong's local spokesperson, more than 140 practitioners seeking to enter from Taiwan, including one of the four denied entry in February 2003, were turned away from the HKSAR in the days leading up to the 10th anniversary of its retrocession RETROCESSION, civil law. When the assignee of heritable rights conveys his rights back to the cedent, it is called a retrocession. Erskine, Prin. B. 3, t. 5, n. 1; Dict. do Jur. h.t. to the mainland. The spokesperson reportedly alleged that airport police subjected some practitioners to brutal treatment when they refused to board planes back to Taiwan. At least two Falun Gong members from Taiwan, including a professor from Taiwan Normal University and an official from the Mainland Affairs Council The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) (Chinese: 大陸委員會; Pinyin: Dàlù Wěiyuánhuì) is a cabinet-level administrative agency under the Executive Yuan of the Republic of China (Taiwan). , were denied entry into Hong Kong during the reporting period.
There were no reports of religious prisoners or detainees in the region.
Forced Religious Conversion
There were no reports of forced religious conversion, including of minor U.S. citizens who had been abducted or illegally removed from the United States, or of the refusal to allow such citizens to be returned to the United States.
SECTION III. SOCIETAL ABUSES AND DISCRIMINATION
There were a few reports of societal abuses and discrimination based on religious belief or practice.
In February 2006 four men used sledgehammers to break into the Hong Kong office of the Falun Gong-owned newspaper The Epoch Times and destroyed an expensive piece of machinery in the paper's print shop. Police investigated the incident but, as of the end of this reporting period, had made no arrests. Falun Gong claimed the attack was part of a worldwide campaign against the group by the Chinese Communist Party Chinese Communist party: see Communist party, in China.
Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
Political party founded in China in 1921 by Chen Duxiu, Li Dazhao, Mao Zedong, and others. . The Hong Kong Journalists Association The Hong Kong Journalists Association (Chinese: 香港記者協會) was established in 1968 for practising journalists in Hong Kong "to enhance press freedom and the integrity of news coverage" (Who we are --- HKJA). , the International Federation of Journalists International Federation of Journalists, IFJ, is global union federation of journalists' trade unions - the largest in the world. The organization aims to protect and strengthen the rights and freedoms of journalists. , and several legislators condemned the break-in.
Falun Gong had opened the print shop only 2 weeks prior to the break-in after experiencing difficulties in finding a local company willing to print its paper. Following the February 2006 break-in, which disabled the print shop, Falun Gong was able to hire a printing company to continue publication of its paper, although orders again had to be placed on a day-to-day basis.
While Falun Gong practitioners freely and openly practiced their beliefs, they were occasionally subjected to more subtle forms of discrimination from private businesses. There were reports of discrimination in the business community against Falun Gong in 2004 and 2005, including refusal to book conference venues.
According to several reports and verbatim statements published by The Epoch Times in February 2007, Dr. Wang Lian, a Falun Gong practitioner who is a resident of Macau but worked in The Epoch Times' Hong Kong office, was detained and interrogated by Public Security Bureau (PSB PSB Pet Shop Boys (band)
PSB Public Service Broadcasting (radio and television)
PSB Public Service Board (Vermont)
PSB Public Security Bureau (China) ) officials on the mainland in mid-September 2006. At the time of his detention, Dr. Lian was also an assistant professor of information technology at the Macau University of Science and Technology Macau University of Science and Technology (MUST)（Portuguese：Universidade de Ciência e Tecnologia de Macau；：澳門科技大學; ：澳门科技大学 and a technical network advisor in the Hong Kong office of The Epoch Times. Dr. Lian claimed the PSB officials directed him to spy on his colleagues and facilitate the disruption of operations--including hacking into the computer networks--at The Epoch Times' office. He reportedly turned over some files and documents to the PSB, which he claimed were of limited use, and fled to seek asylum in Australia in early February 2007.
Two ecumenical bodies facilitate cooperative work among Protestant churches and encourage local Christians to play an active part in society. The largest religious groups have long collaborated in a collegium on community affairs and make up the joint conference of religious leaders.
SECTION IV. U.S. GOVERNMENT POLICY
The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government as part of its overall policy to promote human rights. Consulate General officers have made clear U.S. Government interest in the full protection and maintenance of freedom of religion. Consulate General officers at all levels, including the Consul General, meet regularly with religious leaders and community representatives.