China Announces New Measures to Govern Religious Groups
By Gina Goh
12/31/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – On December 30, China’s state-run media Xinhua reports that as of February 1, 2020, new administrative measures will come into force for any religious groups operating in China.
Two years after the 2018 revised Regulations on Religious Affairs have been put in place, the new “Administrative Measures for Religious Groups,” which aims to further regulate religious activities, have been approved.
The text of the measures consists of six chapters and 41 articles dealing with the organization, functions, offices, supervision, projects and economic administration of communities and groups at both a national and local level.
AsiaNews reports that every aspect of the life of religious communities – from formation, gatherings to annual and daily projects – is subject to approval by the government’s religious affairs department.
In addition to widespread control of all community activities, the new measures require religious personnel to support, promote and implement total submission to the Chinese Communist Party among all members of their communities.
Article 5 reads that “religious organizations must adhere to the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, observe the constitution, laws, regulations, ordinances and policies, adhere to the principle of independence and self-government, adhere to the directives on religions in China, implementing the values of socialism …”.
On top of that, as stated in Article 17, “Religious organizations must spread the principles and policies of the Chinese Communist Party, as well as national laws, regulations, rules to religious personnel and religious citizens, educating religious personnel and religious citizens to support the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, supporting the socialist system, adhering to and following the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics …”.
While it is not new for Beijing to demand the religious groups to submit to the CCP’s control and help promote socialism ideology through their leadership and activities, with the latest measures in place, the government will use them as legal tool to further tighten space for religious groups.
Bitter Winter comments that, as happened for the revised regulations, much will depend on how the new provisions will be enforced, starting in two months. But clearly the crackdown on religion continues, and the legal framework is going from bad to worse.
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