01/05/2022 China (International Christian Concern) – Zhejiang province’s Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee recently introduced the “Administrative Measures for the Registration and Writing Off of Religious Activity Venues in Zhejiang Province (for Trial Implementation),” which came into effect on January 1, 2022.
According to China Christian Daily, the measures are enacted based on the Regulations on Religious Affairs revised in 2017, the Regulations on Religious Affairs of Zhejiang Province launched in 2019, and the Administrative Measures for Religious Groups, which came into force in 2020, according to the State Administration for Religious Affairs.
The document contains 17 articles, mainly covering the purpose of the measures, the scope of application, management principles, establishment conditions and procedures, provision of materials, registration and issuance, the conditions and procedures for writing off the registration, property liquidation, and information management.
What is noteworthy is the writing off of registration for religious activity venues. There are two scenarios where registration is written off: by religious affairs departments in accordance with the law and by religious groups applying for the write-off.
Article 10 of the Measures reads, “If a religious organization fails to apply to write off registration in accordance with the Measures and still fails to do so within the prescribed time limit after being informed by the religious affairs department, the original registration management agency may write off its registration in accordance with the law.”
In essence, the Zhejiang government intends to better control the registration of religious venues by filtering out religious organizations deemed unfit according to its standard. Even state-vetted religious organizations cannot be certain that their registration is valid permanently.
Zhejiang province has the highest percentage of Christians in China. With President Xi Jinping’s recent call for further tightening control on religion, specifically focusing on “Sinicization of religion” to bolster national security, the province responded with its own sets of new measures.
Last November, Zhejiang also introduced its “Measures of Managing Religious Schools” to regulate religious education in Zhejiang with the aim of raising more faculty that is patriotic and qualified in the eyes of the Chinese Communist Party.
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