Young volunteers in Jilin diocese
The government this week issued an opinion paper encouraging religious groups to engage in more charitable activities and announcing steps to regularize the process and offer incentives.
“Some local governments do not have sufficient understanding [about] the positive meaning for the religious sector to participate in charitable services,” said the paper issued jointly by the Communist Party of China’s United Front Work Department and five central government departments.
Ngok King-lun, director of the Institute of Social Policy at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, said the Chinese government often “adopts a pragmatic attitude towards religions and NGOs but now also recognizes that “religions are important social organizations.”
Father Joseph Wang Guosheng, director of Jilin diocese’s social service center, said the document would allow “greater space for operation.”
“Our center lacks funds to develop because it is very difficult to get registration from the government, and thus we have developed slower than other dioceses,” the priest said.
“With tax exempt status after registration, we can draw greater support from corporate donors and thus provide more services to the needy.”
The Jilin center offers home visits to people living with HIV/AIDS or disabilities, youth and volunteer development and scholarships for poor students.
“Preferential policies, including government subsidies and tax reductions, would be offered for religious groups seeking registration to establish foundations, nursing homes and hospitals,” according to a report in the China Daily that cited the government notice.
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