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A senior Chinese leader Wednesday praised the country’s religious communities for their role in maintaining unity among various ethnic groups and social stability, promoting economic development and the undertakings to reunite the country.

Addressing some leading figures of the country’s national Catholic, Buddhist, Taoist, Islamic and Christian groups, Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a national advisory body, offered New Year’s greetings to them on behalf of top Chinese leader Hu Jintao and the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee.

The religious figures included Fu Tieshan, chairman of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, Yi Cheng, president of the Buddhist Association of China, Zhang Jiyu, vice-president of the China Taoist Association, Chen Guangyuan, president of the Islamic Association of China, and Cao Shengjie, president of the China Christian Council.

Jia called on the religious groups to improve their contacts with their religious believers, and help those believers focus their attention on economic development and improving their lives while acquiring political, economic, scientific and cultural knowledge to keep up with the times. Enditem