A senior Chinese government official has declared that there will be a severe crack-down against those using religion to interfere with ''the country's administrative, judicial, and social affairs.''
Ismail Amat, a state councillor dealing with religious affairs, told a national conference on religion in Beijing Jan. 14 that the ''rule of law over all social affairs is one of the major characteristics of a modern society, and religious affairs are no exception,'' according to the government Xinhua news agency.
Mr. Ismail identified the registration of religious locations, efforts to deal with religious problems of public concern, and the fostering of ''contingents of young patriotic preachers'' as three major tasks for the government this year.
He added: ''Those who make use of religion to interfere with administrative, judicial, martial, educational and other social affairs, especially those who take advantage of religious reasons to split the country, must be severely cracked down upon according to law.''
Religion is officially tolerated in China, provided that the government sees religious activities and leaders as acting in harmony with Chinese culture and are registered with the government. Government tolerance does not extend to underground churches which refuse to recognize or comply with regulations on religion.