Hong Kong Christians Look
to New Future With China

Christians in Hong Kong are proud of regaining their Chinese identity; support the new "one country, two systems" policy there; and will work to retain religious freedom.

Those sentiments are expressed in the 1997 Handover Declaration of the Hong Kong Christian Council that was recently released. The declaration is in response to the return of Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China this month.

To prepare for their joined future, Christians in Hong Kong and China have strengthened their ties over the past 10 years, according to the Rev. Tso Man-king, the council's general secretary.

In an article, "Committed to Hong Kong," prepared for the Council of World Mission in London, Man-king noted that "our differences are not as important as what unites us," which is the love of Jesus Christ.

The council also has considered the broader implications of the handover. "As with church unity, we need to appreciate what we have in common with China as well as what makes us different," he wrote in the article, calling 1997 "an opportunity to move forward together."

In its declaration, the council pledged its participation "in the social construction of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region," working to safeguard the legal system and freedom of assembly, press, communication, religious belief and academic freedom. It also called upon the government to revise the basic law occasionally as needed for social development.

"We consider our task is not only to make our society stable, progressive and united, but also to shape Hong Kong in becoming a compassionate society," the declaration said.

In a World Council of Churches statement about the July handover, the Rev. Konrad Raiser, general secretary, noted that the churches in Hong Kong are responsible for 60 percent of social welfare work, including the running of schools and hospitals.

The Hong Kong Christian Council also has pledged to continue to proclaim the gospel of Jesus. "This gospel leads us to give love where there is hatred, faith where there is suspicion, hope where there is disappointment, light where there is darkness," the declaration stated.

Posted July 2, 1997
Copyright ©1997 American News Service
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