China’s religious affairs administration opened its own bookstore for the first time in Beijing in a report released by state media.
“Religious culture in China is a treasure, therefore we must inherit and develop it so it may be a positive influence for building a harmonious society,” said SARA chairman Ye, Xiaowen, as quoted by state-owned website xinhuanet.com.
Ye was seen holding ornate red ribbons alongside religious affairs officials and women in traditional Chinese dresses beneath a placard that read “Beijing Religion Culture Bookstore,” according to photos released by Buddhist-affiliated website fjnet.com.
The bookstore opened as part of the State Administration for Religious Affairs's (SARA) religious culture publishing company in a ceremony held, May 10, according to the state-owned Xinghua news agency.
The shop reportedly serves as the customer service department for the administration’s publishing company. Amongst items listed in the stores inventory include religious book and media products.
Ye described the bookstore as being a “reform and breakthrough,” and that the store should be “well-managed” and “provide excellent service.”
The printing of religious materials remains restricted. Last year, official courts sentenced house church pastor Cai Zhou-hua to three years of imprisonment after he was arrested for printing the Bible and Christian literature.
Last week, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) cited China as being amongst its list of “Countries of Particular Concern.”
Beijing’s foreign ministry spokesman, however, accused the United States of taking “potshots” at China.
Earlier this month Amnesty International reported that the Chinese government had failed to live up to its promise to improve human rights for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.