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China's Minister for Religious Affairs praises ARC's work

September 21, 2010:

The opening of the Daoist eco-temple at Taibaishan

China's Minister for Religious Affairs has given powerful support to the greater development of ARC-supported religious and conservation projects in China, particularly with the Daoists and the Buddhists, in a meeting held earlier this month.

The meeting between Minister Wang of the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA), Mrs Guo, director of the Foreign Affairs section and general secretary of the Religions and Cultural Exchange Association and ARC director Martin Palmer, has also been reported on the SARA website – the first time ARC has ever appeared on an official Chinese government website.

Minister Wang spoke warmly of the importance of ARC’s work internationally and especially in China, and about plans to increase the partnerships between the Chinese Government and ARC.

Part of the discussion concerned the possibility of China hosting an international conference on religion and the environment in late 2011. The idea was warmly received and the minister will be sending a representative to the UK to discuss further these plans later this year.

ARC has a long history of working in China, in particular helping to protect the biodiversity of the key Daoist sacred mountains.

The meeting with the Minister is a sign of how far the Chinese Government has come in recognising the valuable role played by religions in civil society in China as well as the contribution of Daoism and Buddhism to protecting nature, says ARC director Martin Palmer.

Link to the story on the SARA website here.

The Huashan Declaration

Further confirmation of religion’s role in protecting nature came with the formal launch this month of the Huashan Declaration, aimed at protecting ‘the natural and the spiritual ecology’ of one of the most ancient and revered sites in China – the Qinling Mountain range.

The declaration builds on ARC’s report on sacred land in China, published in 1997, as well as on 13 years of work to create an eco-temple at Taibaishan, developed with the Ecological Management Foundation.

Its aim is to achieve:

• green mountains
• clean water
• blue sky
• people in harmony

For more information on the Huashan Declaration, read our story on protecting the 'dragon's vein of China' here.

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