China’s Director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) Wang Zuoan (left) at tea with Archbishop Nicholas Chia (right). Photo by Darren Boon

SINGAPORE – Archbishop Nicholas Chia met with China’s Director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA), Mr Wang Zuoan, at the Archbishop’s House on Dec 16, 2009.

During a discussion between the two leaders, the Director said that the China-Singapore Religious Cultural Exhibition was “beneficial to both countries” and “helps promotes interreligious harmony and understanding within one’s country”.

Mr Wang also called for more exchange and interaction between the Catholic Churches of Singapore and China in areas such as church administration, church social services and theology studies where both sides can interact, cooperate and learn from one another.

Noting that Mandarin is a common language to both countries, Mr Wang said Singapore was well-positioned as a place of exchange and training of the Chinese clergy and religious. He encouraged the Archbishop to consider hosting the Chinese people and sending the Singapore religious over to China for an exchange.

The Director also extended an invitation to the Archbishop to visit China. He was in Singapore for the recent China-Singapore Religious Cultural Exhibition 2009.

Speaking on the sidelines of the meeting, Mr Wang told CatholicNews in Mandarin that he had a “frank and good conversation” with the Archbishop, whom he described as “a good man, amiable, genial and a good host”.

He added: “I think that further dialogue and communication would be possible in the future. We are willing to head towards this direction. Although we cannot say that we have a deep understanding of the Singapore Church, we hope that there will more chances to visit one another and to find areas to cooperate in the future.”

Asked to comment on the meeting, the Archbishop said it was a “friendly and cordial meeting”. He added: “We got to know each other better. We respect each other.”

Mr Wang, together with several delegates from SARA, also toured the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd where Father Rene Nicolas explained to the visitors about Catholicism in Singapore.

SARA is a department under the State Council that oversees religious affairs and issues for the People’s Republic of China.
By Darren Boon
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