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ICC Note: China passed new regulations of religion on Thursday with the aim to ‘fight terrorism’ and restrict faith practiced outside of state-sanctioned organizations. This updated version from rules put into place back in 2005 further limits activities carried out by religious groups not approved by the state, such as studying overseas or receiving training. The regulations also prevent religious groups from having foreign interactions. These rules will come into effect on February 1, 2018.  

09/7/2017 China (Channel News Asia) – China’s cabinet on Thursday passed new rules to regulate religion to bolster national security, fight extremism and restrict faith practised outside organisations approved by the state.

The document passed by Premier Li Keqiang updates a version of rules put into place in 2005 to allow the regulation of religion to better reflect “profound” changes in China and the world, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The rules released by Xinhua use strong and specific language about the need to protect China’s national security against threats from religious groups.

“Religious affairs maintenance should persist in a principle of maintaining legality, curbing illegality, blocking extremism, resisting infiltration and attacking crime,” the regulations say.

“Any group or individual must not create conflict or contention between different religions, with a single religion or between religious individuals and non-religious individuals,” they say.

President Xi Jinping has emphasized the need to guard against foreign infiltration through religion and the need to prevent the spread to “extremist” ideology, while also being tolerant of traditional faiths that he sees as a salve to social ills.

The officially atheist ruling Communist Party says it protects freedom of religion, but it keeps a tight rein on religious activities and allows only officially recognised religious institutions to operate.

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