Atheist China Gives Nod to Taiwan Buddhist Group

March 11, 2008

Author: Benjamin Kang Lim

Source: Reuters

China on Tuesday officially approved a Taiwan Buddhist group which has been quietly conducting charity work for almost two decades, a landmark concession to religion by the country's atheist Communist rulers.

China maintains tight control over religion but has sought to use Buddhism to help curb rising social unrest and help fill an ideological vacuum which has spawned corruption and eroded ethics in the post-Mao era.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs issued a license for the Taiwan Buddhist charity group Tzu Chi to run "the first foundation (in China) in which a non-mainland resident serves as the legal representative," Fan Liqing, spokeswoman for the cabinet's Taiwan Affairs Office, told reporters.