Beijing Moves to Tighten Control of Foreigners’ Religious Activities in China

ICC Note: Radio Free Asia has learned that China is further tightening control of religion for foreign nationals who practice their religions on Chinese soil, in order to prevent “hostile foreign forces” from infiltrating the country. The State Administration of Religious Affairs is asking for input on a new set of administrative guidelines to “protect public interests.”

05/09/2018 China (Radio Free Asia) – China looks set to further tighten the regulation of public religious worship in a bid to prevent “hostile foreign forces” from infiltrating the country, RFA has learned.

The State Administration of Religious Affairs began consultations this week on rules relating to foreigners who practice their religions on Chinese soil.

Existing regulations from 1991 already bar Chinese citizens from attending temporary religious gatherings organized by foreign religious groups, while foreign religious organizations are banned from any venue not previously authorized for religious purposes.

Now, the government is asking for input on a new set of administrative guidelines to “protect the public interest,” according to a notice posted on the Administration’s official website on Monday.

Foreigners are currently also barred from preaching or teaching, other than at the invitation of state-backed institutions, nor must they mentor or train Chinese religious staff and believers.

“They may not produce and sell religious books, religious audio-visual products, religious electronic publications, and other religious supplies; they may not disseminate religious propaganda materials and conduct other forms of missionary activities,” the existing regulations state.

The new rules target “collective religious activities” of more than 50 people that are organized and attended by foreigners, in particular, at locations that have only been temporarily approved for religious activity for a year at a time.

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