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China May Retranslate Bible to Include Buddhist Teachings in Bid to “Sinicize” Christianity

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The Chinese government is planning to incorporate Buddhist and Confucian teachings into a new translation of the Bible, according to a Christian human rights activist based in the United States, Buddhist Door reports.

In a statement to Congress, Reverend Bob Fu, founder of the human rights watchdog organization China Aid, said on 27 September that under a five-year plan drawn up to give the Chinese government more control over the growth and influence of Christianity in China, state-sanctioned Protestant bodies the Three Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) and the Chinese Christian Council (CCC) aim to promote “the Sinicization of Christianity.”

The plan, finalized in March, will be supervised by the State Administration for Religious Affairs according to Rev. Fu:

“Every province, autonomous region, and municipality’s TSPM and CCC seminaries and churches will cooperate with it. The plan made it clear that ‘Sinicization of Christianity’ means to change ‘Christianity in China’ into ‘Chinese Christianity,’” Rev. Fu told members of the House Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations. “[The plan] emphasized that ‘the heart and soul of Christianity’s Sinicization is to Sincize the Christian theology,’ and even proposing to ‘re-translate the Bible or re-write biblical commentaries.’”

Rev. Fu is a former house church leader who immigrated to the United States from China in 1997.

The Chinese government plans to “retranslate” the Old Testament with some Buddhist scripture and Confucian teachings and new commentary for the New Testament, Rev. Fu explained in his written testimony.

“There are outlines that the new Bible should not look Westernized and [should look] Chinese and reflect Chinese ethics of Confucianism and socialism,” he said. “The Old Testament will be messed up. The New Testament will have new commentaries to interpret it.”

Rev. Fu noted that new regulations enacted in February require all religious activity to be conducted under “the guidance, supervision, and inspection of relevant departments of the local people’s government regarding the management of personnel, finances, assets, accounting, security, fire protection, protection of relics, health and disease prevent and so forth.”

State officials have called on some 20,000 underground house churches to close and join the state-sanctioned church, said Rev. Fu, adding that leaders of these churches must pledge their loyalty to the Communist Party.

Amid widespread moves to bring religious activity in China under tighter state regulation, all five officially recognized religions—Buddhism, Catholicism, Daoism, Islam, and Protestantism—have come under increased state scrutiny and interference, with efforts being made to discourage “Western” and “chaotic” thinking and ideas deemed harmful to social harmony, and to “re-educate” ethnic minorities to become more “Sinicized,” as President Xi Jinping seeks to cement party loyalty at the grassroots level.

“Religious freedom in China has really reached to the worst level that has not been seen since the beginning of the Cultural Revolution by Chairman Mao [Zedong] in the 1960s,” said Rev. Fu. (The Christian Post)

According to data for 2014 from a survey by the China Family Panel Studies under Peking University, 73.6 per cent of the population are classified as either non-religious or practicing Chinese folk religions—including local cults to deities and ancestors, Confucianism, Taoism, and Chinese Buddhism. Officially sanctioned Buddhism accounts for 15.9 per cent, other religions (including folk salvationism and Taoism) account for 7.6 per cent, Christianity accounts for 2.53 per cent, and Islam 0.5 per cent.

Among the many difficulties surrounding sourcing reliable data about religion in China is that many Han Chinese do not classify their spiritual beliefs and practices as “religious,” and often do not adhere exclusively to a single spiritual practice or tradition.

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Court in Gibraltar Extends Iranian Tanker’s Detention for 30 Days

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A court in Gibraltar has extended the detention of an Iranian oil tanker for 30 days, AFP reported, citing Gibraltar’s attorney general. According to the agency, the order authorising the detention of the tanker can be extended for up to 90 days.

“We look forward to continuing to work constructively and positively with officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran to facilitate the release of the Grace 1 pursuant to the satisfaction of all legal requirements,” Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo told the territory’s parliament, as quoted by AFP.

On 4 July, the supertanker Grace 1 was detained off the coast of the British Mediterranean territory of Gibraltar on suspicions of it carrying oil to Syria for refinement.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt discussed the issue earlier this week, with Mr Zarif urging London to release the tanker. He also stressed that Tehran would continue its oil exports under any circumstances. Mr Hunt, for his part, said that the Grace 1 would be released once Iran gives guarantees about its destination.

The tanker’s four crew members were freed on bail earlier this month after being questioned.

The situation in the Gulf has remained tense since the US tightened the sanctions it reimposed on the Iranian oil sector after quitting the 2015 nuclear deal.

A series of incidents, including attacks on oil tankers, took place in the Gulf of Oman in May and June. Washington has blamed the attacks on Tehran, but the latter has denied all the accusations.

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Russia in Confidential Consultations with the Netherlands on MH17 Crash

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Russia is having confidential consultations with the Netherlands on MH17 flight that was downed over Donbass in July 2014, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said on Friday.

“Such consultations are underway, but we agreed that the process will have a confidential character,” the diplomat said.

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Links Between Russia and EU’s Right-Wing Parties Cause for Concern, Says Merkel

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Relations between Moscow and EU’s right-wing political parties are a cause for concern, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday during a press conference in Berlin.

“Some questions arise here,” she stated. “We have constantly monitored the very strong support that right-leaning parties have received from Russia in one way or the other.” “This is a cause for concern,” Merkel stressed.

The German chancellor also mentioned the scandal regarding the alleged financing of Italy’s Lega party by Russia, noting that the Italian side must investigate the allegations in detail.

Milan’s prosecution launched a case based on the publications on the US BuzzFeed website and in the Italian L’Espresso weekly news magazine shedding light on the alleged financing Lega was receiving from Russia, qualifying the case as international corruption.

The main suspect in the case is one of the associates of Italy’s Deputy PM Matteo Salvini, head of th-e Lombardy-Russia Association Gianluca Savoini. According to the prosecution, his voice can be heard on the BuzzFeed published audio recording of an alleged conversation with Russian entrepreneurs with ties to the Kremlin, during which a possible oil supply contract was discussed. The party could have received the deal dividends amounting to $65 mln.

Both Salvini and Savoini have denied the allegations.

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