Communist Leaders' Visit to Hong Kong Attempts to "Neutralize" Religious Leaders' Opposition

May 26, 2004


On May 26, 2004 posted an United Press International article that reported, "Senior Communist Party leader Madame Liu Yandong conducted herself with dignity and propriety at she officiated at a ceremony in honor of the Buddha's birthday in Hong Kong on Wednesday. Dressed in a modest but stylish black skirt and jacket, and taking her cues from the monks alongside her, she bowed her head in front of the gold-encased Buddhist relics and stood with hands in prayerful pose while the monks chanted. Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa accompanied her, less graceful but no doubt more sincere. He is said to be a practicing Buddhist, although he has been known to perform the Confucian ceremonies with equal earnestness on the revered Chinese sage's birthday. However Madame Liu, the 59-year-old director of the Communist Party's United Front Work Department, is officially an atheist, like all members in good standing of her party...Liu's visit to Hong Kong is part of a two-pronged strategy the central government has adopted to deal with the unruly populace, who are polarized over Beijing's decision last month to block direct elections of their leaders. Liu is part of a charm offensive, sent to win friends, build alliances, and neutralize enemies in the time-tested communist 'united front' style. Religious believers are on the list to be neutralized, as far as possible. So Liu has brought with her the director-general of the State Administration of Religious Affairs, Ye Xiaowen, an expert in that task."