The Bishop of Hong Kong, Joseph Zen, has offered to give up his office, if it could lead to religious freedom in mainland China and improved relations between the Vatican and Beijing. Bishop Joseph said he realised his presence as head of the Hong Kong diocese might be an obstacle to improved relations between the Catholic Church and China because of his outspoken criticisms of the Communist government there. "Sacrificing me is really nothing if the mainland has real religious freedom," he said. In recent months there has been an increased clampdown on religious practice in mainland China, other than in official government-licensed centres. Many Christians have been arrested and imprisoned - alongside members of the banned native Falung Gong. The Church in Hong Kong, which was returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997, has maintained more freedom so far. But in recent weeks, a proposed new anti-subversion law threatens that freedom. Besides prohibiting various acts against the Communist government, including subversion, treason, and theft of state secrets the law bans groups linked to organisations on the mainland which are considered to endanger Chinese national security. Hong Kong will be constitutionally required to enforce the law.
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