(Hebei Province; Beijing—Jan. 12, 2021) “Due to the pandemic in northern China,” CCP officials more strictly monitor religious events in Beijing; Hebei; surrounding areas, and reward neighbors who snitch [report] on house churches and other religious organizations holding “illegal” gatherings.
According to posts by netizens on Chinese social media, Beijing held the 205th Coronavirus prevention and control press conference on January 8. Wang Haifeng, the 2nd-level inspector of Beijing Municipal Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee, said that the 155 religious’ sites in Beijing did not contract the virus. Nevertheless, the government ordered all these religious’ locations to temporarily close. In the interest of preventing and controlling the current pandemic, CCP authorities claim, they have suspended all religious events.
Authorities have issued an incentive policy in Xingtai, Hebei to encourage neighbors to report on house churches that do not comply with current regulations. According to the Notice about Giving Rewards to People Reporting on Religious Events during the Pandemic, CCP authorities decided to implement the incentive policy immediately “to prevent and avoid potential risks from religious events and opening religious venues. This aligns with the ‘Double Suspension’ Notice regarding religious venues and events that superior officials issued.”
Authorities’ incentives include “rewarding” 500 yuan [77 USD] and up to neighbors who report religious locations still open and hosting religious events during the pandemic. Authorities also target gatherings held at Buddhist temples, meeting spots, and even households not recognized as religious venues.