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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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China, U.S. Agree to Cancel Tariffs in Phases

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China and the United States have agreed to cancel in phases the tariffs imposed during their months-long trade war, the Chinese commerce ministry said on Thursday, without specifying a timetable, Reuters informs.

An interim U.S.-China trade deal is widely expected to include a U.S. pledge to scrap tariffs scheduled for Dec. 15 on about $156 billion worth of Chinese imports, including cell phones, laptop computers and toys, Reuters adds.

Tariff cancellation was an important condition for any agreement, ministry spokesman Gao Feng said, adding that both must simultaneously cancel some tariffs on each other’s goods to reach a “phase one” trade deal.

“The trade war started with tariffs, and should end with the cancellation of tariffs,” Gao told a regular news briefing.

The proportion of tariffs cancelled for both sides to reach a “phase one” deal must be the same, but the number to be cancelled can be negotiated, he added, without elaborating. “In the past two weeks, the lead negotiators from both sides have had serious and constructive discussions on resolving various core concerns appropriately,” Gao said.

“Both sides have agreed to cancel additional tariffs in different phases, as both sides make progress in their negotiations.”

A source previously told Reuters that Chinese negotiators wanted the United States to drop 15% tariffs on about $125 billion worth of Chinese goods that took effect on September 1.

They also sought relief from earlier 25% tariffs on about $250 billion of imports, ranging from machinery and semiconductors to furniture.

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Former Obama Officials Pledge Support to Biden as He Trails Top Rivals in Money Race

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In a flex of establishment muscle, a slew of former Obama administration officials came out on Wednesday to support Joe Biden’s Democratic U.S. presidential bid at a time when he is fighting to maintain his front-runner status, Reuters informs.

Biden, 76, who was vice president for eight years under Barack Obama, was the guest at a fundraiser that marked the latest effort by his allies to confront the mounting threat posed in polls and fundraising by his top Democratic rival, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Warren, a progressive who promotes sweeping institutional change, has vowed to change the way Washington does business. Biden has become increasingly reliant on the Democratic political establishment to repel her charge.

Last month, a cadre of Biden’s loyalists launched a Super PAC, something Biden previously resisted. The political action committee allows wealthy donors to give unlimited amounts to support his candidacy. Warren, by contrast, largely accepts only small, online donations, Reuters adds.

Biden and Warren sit atop most national opinion polls, with Warren holding an edge in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire and Biden running strongly in other states.

Overall, 17 Democrats are seeking the party’s nomination to take on Republican President Donald Trump in the November 2020 presidential election.

Biden also has stepped up his attacks on Warren, particularly her embrace of single-payer, government-run healthcare. He has increasingly painted Warren, a Harvard University law professor and senator from Massachusetts, as a condescending “elitist” who would not be able to unite a country polarized by Trump’s presidency.

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White House New Hires to Boost Trump Impeachment Defense

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The White House is expected to recruit two advisers to take a more aggressive posture in defending President Donald Trump in the congressional impeachment inquiry over his dealings with Ukraine, a senior administration official said on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

The first public hearings are set for next week in the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives. The White House has been conducting an internal review to determine the events surrounding Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine President Volodymr Zelenskiy, the official said.

A second senior administration official said the review of the events, which led to a whistleblower complaint followed by House committees hearing testimony in October, was not an investigation but rather a “fact-finding mission.”

William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, has provided some of the most damaging testimony to date. He said that Trump made the release of nearly $400 million in security aid to Ukraine contingent on Kiev publicly declaring it would carry out politically motivated investigations demanded by Trump against former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Reuters adds.

The two outside advisers are former Florida state attorney general Pam Bondi, a Trump ally, and former Treasury Department spokesman Tony Sayegh, who had resigned earlier this year after joining the administration from its early days.

“Pam Bondi and Tony Sayegh are expected to join the White House communications team to work on proactive impeachment messaging and other special projects as they arise,” the first administration official said.

Trump had voiced opposition to bringing in aides, believing he did nothing wrong and that to bring in new advisers would make him look weak, a source familiar with the situation said.

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