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World - Europe

China pledges commitment to freedom of worship

China says Christian prayer service is protected  

By Kevin Grieves
CNN World Report

In this story:

Dutch entrepreneurs enjoy selling their soles to tourists

Kuwaitis head for desert as winter camping beckons This story contains video

Moscow race track hosts unusual competitors

Singapore artist gives ping pong balls new lease on life

Hungarian chefs vie for best culinary creation


A two-year-old boy from Tibet is the latest youngster to become the symbol of political tensions. Buddhist clergy in Tibet ordained Soinam Puncog as the seventh Reting Lama in a sacred ceremony in Tibet's holiest shrine recently, but the Dalai Lama, living in exile in India, refused to recognize the ordination.

Western observers say this adds to the embarrassment Beijing has already suffered when the high-ranking monk Karmapa, a 14-year-old youth, fled Tibet into neighboring India earlier this month.

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CNN World Report strives to fulfill its mission: To provide television viewers around the world with the opportunity to see other countries as they see themselves. CNN World Report gives the world's broadcasters a global forum from which to report the news 'as they see it' to the rest of the world.

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Also making headlines recently was the ordination of bishops by the Chinese branch of the Roman Catholic Church, conducted in defiance of the Vatican, which claims to hold absolute authority over such appointments.

As the international spotlight once again shines on religious life in the People's Republic of China, especially amid renewed accusations from some quarters of harsh restrictions of worshippers in China, China Central Television (CCTV) examined the question of religious freedom from the Chinese perspective.

The report noted that while only about one in ten Chinese believe in some form of religion, those beliefs take a wide variety of shapes: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and various forms of Buddhism and Taoism are represented in China. CCTV says the government promises equal status to adherents of these different faiths.

CCTV correspondent Han Bin says that since a new government policy addressing religious worship was issued in 1979, religion is "no longer taboo" for Chinese citizens. He says even those Chinese who decide to dedicate their entire lives to religious service are shielded from government intervention. To illustrate this point, CCTV visited Tibet's Zhaibung Monastery and spoke with a Buddhist monk to hear his perspective on the degree of religious tolerance in China.

"There have been great improvements in religious freedom in Tibet. Any normal religious practice in keeping with the law is fully protected," says monastery member Luosang Wangjiu.

Dutch entrepreneurs enjoy selling their soles to tourists

Oversize Dutch icon makes for fun playground  

The Netherlands may be small in area, but catering to visitors is big business. CNN World Report contributor RNTV noticed that large numbers of international tourists went home with an extra pair of shoes in their suitcases as a remembrance of their visit to the lowland country. Dutch wooden shoes may not be actually worn anymore, but tourists seem to love them as souvenirs.

RNTV says the popular wooden souvenirs may seem like a cheesy stereotype to some sensitive Dutch citizens, but entrepreneurs in the Netherlands who sell the clogs insist they're just addressing the desires of their customers. "The consumer wants to buy these items, so why should you try to bring something else?" asks Han Bogaert, the chairman of the union of souvenir producers.

Kuwaitis head for desert as winter camping beckons

VideoKuwait television provides this look at a celebration of seasonal change.
Real 28K 80K
Windows Media 28K 80K

It's the time of year to which many residents of the Gulf nation of Kuwait look forward ... after a long, hot summer cooped up indoors, winter days offer pleasant, cooler air, and a chance to enjoy the outdoors in comfort.

Kuwait TV showed that the people of Kuwait know how to take advantage of an outdoors excursion to the fullest: each year, many families head out of their urban surroundings for a camping trip to the desert.

Kuwait TV reporter Najwa Assran took CNN World Report viewers on a tour of one such camping area, including glimpses inside some of the tents, where many of the comforts of home life had been transplanted into the desert. Food preparation is not given short shrift despite the rustic surroundings, and entertainment is also provided.

Moscow race track hosts unusual competitors

From Bedouin transport to Russian sport: One of Moscow's racing camels  

Moscow's horse race track was founded 165 years ago, and has seen plenty of excitement and close finishes in its storied history. But a recent race drew quite a bit of attention because of the breed of the competitors on the track: for the first time, camels were galloping for the finish line.

Russia's ORT was on hand for the novel event, featuring four female camels on temporary loan from the Moscow circus.

Despite the heavy snow and subzero temperature, the camels didn't seem to have any difficulty sprinting the full length of the course. ORT reported that the camel races attracted large crowds of spectators.

Singapore artist gives ping pong balls new lease on life

Artists the world over have put their creative skills to use transforming common, household items into works of art. But a new twist is bouncing around Singapore these days, as some retired sporting goods are finding new life in the studio of Singapore artist Garie Sim.

Delicate surgery turns ball into work of art  

Singapore's TCS visited the art teacher to get a look at the impressive creations Sim has fashioned out of old table tennis balls: Christmas figurines, nursery rhyme characters, Chinese mythological characters... even the heroes of the latest craze of Pokemon are taking shape as old pingpong balls are transformed. Sim spruces up the balls with careful applications of polymer clay and colorful paint. The clay is first baked, then attached to the balls.

Sim told TCS reporter Judith Tan that the ping pong ball creations are a big hit with his art students. "You realize there are a lot of things being wasted, and I think there's a lot of potential in that," he adds.

Hungarian chefs vie for best culinary creation

Chefs decorate food in hopes of blue ribbon  

Basel, Switzerland was the scene recently of a competition featuring a stunning array of edible entries: members of the World Association of Cooks' Societies gathered to show off their talents in the areas of food preparation.

Hungarian cooks were among those hoping to win the judges' recognition for their food artistry, and contributor station ATV of Hungary followed along for a taste of the competition.

Hungarian chefs proudly featured national recipes, some dating back hundreds of years, in the "ethno-food" category. While tradition played a prominent role in the variety of national tastes, ATV reporter Bela Harcsa says modern design trends helped a Hungarian confectioner with the presentation of his dessert creation. Zoltan Perity discovered a "high tech" way to weave and crochet a mixture of egg white and powdered sugar into an eye-catching masterpiece.

"With this technology he is able to make surfaces similar to textile, or embroidery. All these creations are edible," Harcsa explains.

When it came time for the judges to rank the stunning creations, the top honors went to cooks from the United States, Sweden and Switzerland. Hungary's chefs are already warming up their ovens for the next big international culinary competition, to be held in Berlin later this year.

CNN World Report contributors
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CNN World Report Archive:
Angolan strife spurs wave of refugee flight
January 17, 2000
South Koreans pair up with new partners for the new millennium
December 20, 1999
Armenia works to erase traces of deadly earthquake
December 13, 1999
Ugandan journalists decry stifling of press freedoms
December 06, 1999
Mozambique's parties tradeaccusations on eve of election
November 29, 1999
Latin American nations draw immigrants, filmmakers
November 22, 1999
Australians choose queen over republic
November 15, 1999
Scientists battle Brazilian malaria outbreak
November 8, 1999
Argentine voters steer country onto new political course
November 1, 1999
Quake's aftershocks rumble through Taiwan's society
October 25, 1999
Filipinos buffeted by winds of change in Germany
October 18, 1999
Islamic woman challenges South African law on marriages
October 11, 1999
Lesotho tries to overcome past as election nears
October 4, 1999

click here for more archives...

More about CNN World Report:
  • CNN World Report
  • CNN World Report Transcripts
  • CNN World Report Television Archive At Texas Tech University
  • First Chapter: CNN Making News in the Global Market
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