ICC Note: Given the current trajectory of the Chinese government, the situation for the country’s religious minorities may become even more tumultuous. On October 18, China will convene its 19th Party Congress where the president is expected to receive a second term as the ruling Communist Party’s leader. The Chinese government is expected to restrict foreign influence and funding on religious activities in China. Moreover, the Chinese president Xi Jinping will likely put an emphasis on limiting religious freedoms while at the same time strengthening the Communist Party’s power.
10/10/2017 China (La Croix) – For China’s religious minorities, to say that it has been a difficult year would be an understatement. The government is quickly transforming the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region into a police state while new laws now mostly restrict the Tibetan region from access to the world outside of China.
But following the 19th Party Congress beginning this month — where Chinese President Xi Jinping will reshuffle his government, selecting the core leadership on the Politburo — human rights monitors fear that, given the current trajectory of the Chinese government, the situation for the country’s religious minorities may become even more tumultuous.
“So far, the Chinese government’s impulse to tighten control across the board —including religion — indicates a grim outlook for religious freedom in China for years to come,” Maya Wang, senior researcher, Asia Division at Human Rights Watch, told ucanews.com.
“On top of its basic framework of controlling religions, which is that the government restricts religious activities to only five officially recognized religions and only in officially approved religious premises, I expect that the government will continue to push for greater ‘Sinicization’ of religions,” Wang said.
” That means the government will continue its campaign to restrict foreign influences, ties, and funding on religions in China.” Wang noted that this was already the apparent trend in both Xinjiang and Tibet.
Such Sinicized religion includes the practice of Catholicism under the supervision of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA), which is a body set up by the government’s State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA). The CPA’s refusal to recognize the Vatican leads many Catholics to illegally worship underground.
When ucannews.com investigated large CPA-sponsored churches in urban Beijing last year, they were mostly empty.
In July, on the heels of the Party Congress, director of SARA Wang Zuoan, told all members of the Communist Party to give up religion. Wang said members were also banned from supporting religion for economic development or cultural purposes.