(China) In recent years, under the leadership of Xi Jinping, China has successively introduced measures to control religious groups. On July 31, the State Administration for Religious Affairs of China announced new measures to take effect on September 1, 2023. The religious freedom of Chinese citizens, including those in Tibet, Xinjiang, and Inner Mongolia, will face further restrictions. All religious activities will be limited to official religious venues, and the display of religious symbols will be restricted indoors.
Latest administrative measures
The Measures on the Administration of Religious Activity Venues impose restrictive provisions on all religious minorities. Not only do they severely restrain the establishment and registration procedures for venues, but the measures also set forth management rules and stipulations for managing personnel. The regulations specify the establishment of supervisors for religious activity sites and impose conditional limitations on internal management within these sites.
Whatever remains is silenced
The Chinese government has increased its control, subjecting all aspects of religion to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Due to these unconstitutional regulations, laws, and measures, underground believers are being suffocated. This amounts to a complete ban on religious activities, whatever remains must align with the leadership and political propaganda of the CCP.
Articles from the Measures
On September 1st, the implemented Measures blatantly stated in Article 3 that religious activity venues should uphold the leadership of the Communist Party of China. Those at the activities must uphold the socialist system and adhere to Sinicization. Managing personnel will be expected to implement Xi Jinping Thoughts on Socialism
Article 16 of the Measures states that places of religious activity shall not be named after churches, sects, or persons.
Article 27 stipulates that members of the management organization of venues should possess the qualities of “loving the motherland and supporting the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the socialist system.”
Religious venues must establish performance evaluation systems for their employees. CCP organizations will then indoctrinate these members with policies of communism, national laws and regulations, and excellent Chinese traditional culture (Articles 28 and 36).
Sermons bending to the CCP
The Measures require that the content of Christian sermons should reflect China’s political situation and the core values advocated by Chairman Xi Jinping, rather than the unique doctrines of the religion itself. If clergy members fail to comply with the party’s requirements, they may be disqualified from preaching in the future. “Religious activity venues conducting religious activities should abide by national laws, regulations, and provisions. The content of preaching and sermons should be suitable for our country’s national conditions and characteristics of the times, integrate excellent traditional Chinese culture, and reflect the core socialist values.” (Article 39)
Official religious groups controlled by the government will endure further monitoring and restrictions. Though house churches and underground Catholic churches are not directly affected by these provisions, the Chinese government can still persecute, without restraint, unregistered religious groups through other surveillance measures.
~Gao Zhensai, Special Correspondent of ChinaAid