Local Authorities Reward Citizens for Reporting “Illegal Religious Activities”

08/21/2021 China (International Christian Concern) – In order to clamp down on churches that are not registered with the state, Chinese Authorities in northeastern China will pay tips to people who report “illegal religious activities.”

Although not the first cities to provide such incentive, on August 9, the Meilisi Daur District United Front Work Department of Qiqihar, Heilongjiang Province, offers up to 1,000 yuan (US$150) for tips about illicit foreign infiltration.

According to China Christian Daily, the released statement titled “The Reward System For Reporting Illegal Religious Activities Offences” states that under the new reward scheme in Qiqihar, whistle-blowers can earn from 500 to 1,000 yuan for reports about unqualified religious personnel, unauthorized trans-regional activities, preaching and distributing printed religious works, audio-visual products outside places of worship, unauthorized donations, or private house gatherings.

The announcement added that these measures mean to “strengthen the control of illegal religious activities in the district, prevent any COVID-19 cluster resulting from religious gatherings, mobilize the public to engage in preventing, suppressing illegal religious activities, and ensure a harmonious and stable religious landscape.”

Similar offers were made in other cities such as the Boshan District in Zibo and Weihai City, Shandong, around the same time. Shandong also listed unauthorized religious training and summer or winter camps attended by minors, or any evangelistic activity for “parenting purposes” as activities that should be reported. Internet activities are targeted as well.

Since 2019, local authorities around China such as Fujian, Guangxi, Henan, Hebei, and Liaoning have all offered rewards for tip-off. While they do not specify which religion they are targeting, it is self-evident that house churches are being suppressed.

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