Wang Zuo’an 王作安
Director SARA (see right)
Member of the Tibet Work Leading Group. SARA is the agency responsible for Order Number 5 concerning recognition of reincarnate lamas
Pronunciation: Wong Dzo-ahn soundbite
Born: 1958, Jiangsu Province.
Education: Graduate, Nanjing University, Department of Philosophy
Career: Scant information. First Deputy Director then Director, State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA).
Prospects: Unclear. No big promotion speculated. Alternate member of 18th CPC.
Relevance to Tibet: Member of the Tibet Work Leading Group. SARA is the agency responsible for Order Number 5, requiring prior government approval for recognition of reincarnates. (See below for description of SARA’s primary responsibilites.)
Standing in the Party and Career Highlights:
Alternate Member of 18th CPC.
According to the US-China Business Council, SARA’s role is to “Protect the religious freedom of citizens according to the law, protect religious officials’ rights to conduct normal religious activities, protect the legitimate rights and interests of religious groups and religious activity places, and educate religious officials on patriotism, socialism, safeguarding national unity and nationality solidarity.” (our emphasis). Wang joined the CCP in 1985. In 1995 South China Morning Post reported he was acting editor of the newly-formed state-run Religious Culture Press, which was about to authorize the printing of Bibles. In 2002 SCMP reported Wang was part of a delegation holding secret negotiations with the Vatican for normalization of ties. (NB As of 2010 ties are still not normalized).
Quotations By/Comments About:
- Reuters, April 2013: China is struggling to get its estimated 100 million religious believers to banish superstitious beliefs about things like sickness and death, the country’s top religious affairs official told a state-run newspaper. “Religion basically upholds peace, reconciliation and harmony … and can play its role in society,” Wang said. “But due to various complex factors, religion can become a lure for unrest and antagonism. Looking at the state of religion in the world today, we must be very clear on this point.”
- South China Morning Post, February 2010: Wang Zuoan told a national conference of the Buddhist Association of China yesterday that Tibetan monks and nuns should be instilled with more nationalistic education. “[They should] absolutely oppose and voluntarily boycott separatist activities and attempts to destabilise society by the Dalai clique in the name of religion,” Wang said…. In the latest issue of Qiushi magazine, Wang wrote that religious affairs in China were getting more complicated because of increased interference from “foreign forces.”…. “Interference by foreign forces in the name of religion has not only never stopped, but has intensified.”
- Global Times, January 2010: [Wang’s reply when asked by the magazine Oriental Outlook “What’s the greatest difficulty of conducting religious work in China?”] “The ruling party upholds Marxism and atheism while practicing freedom of religion. Coordinating the two calls for superb political wisdom…. Despite turns and twists in dealing with religious issues, China has found the correct way to solve this problem.
- Brookings Discussion, September 2008: [In response to Cheng Li asking whether the CCP – having accepted capitalists – would ever accept religious believers.] “We all know that CCP believes in communism, and we are atheists. But atheism is not anti-religion….But if religious people want to participate and want to join the Communist Party, it may violate their ideology and faith values…. I’ve worked for the State Administration for Religious Affairs for many years, and I haven’t heard of or haven’t met any religious person who would like to join the Party.”
Wang Zuoan’s Contact Information:
- Address: State Administration for Religious Affairs, No.44 North Bank of Houhai Lake, Xicheng District, Beijing 100009.
- Website: www.sara.gov.cn
- Phone: + 86 10 6409 5114
- Fax: + 86 10 6409 5000
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