SPIEGEL: Mr. Zhang, Tibet is traditionally a deeply religious country, whereas the Chinese Communist Party is secular. Marx called religion the opium of the masses. How do you reconcile the two?
Zhang: Nature is diverse. Different life forms coexist and the world is colorful. This also holds true when it comes to ideology. We emphasize harmony, so that different ideologies and ideas can live together in peace. The Chinese government practices religious freedom.
SPIEGEL: But since when has the Communist Party tolerated religion in its current form?
Zhang: The party and the government have a clear policy on religion. First, we have religious freedom. Second, religious communities must make their own decisions, and we cannot have interference from abroad. Third, they must be conducted and managed according to the laws. And, finally, we show them how to become integrated into socialist society. You can see the way it is in Tibet, where people make pilgrimages to the temples, turn their prayer wheels and pray to Buddha. [Full Text]