China's revised regulations on religion fend off foreign influences

By Yang Sheng Source:Global Times Published: 2017/9/11 23:18:39 Last Updated: 2017/9/12 1:55:14

Revised regulations fend off foreign influences

China has released revised regulations on religious affairs, banning religious-involved separatist activities and any practice that stirs religious conflict among citizens.

The State Council released the new Ordinance of Religious Affairs on Thursday, which will take effect on February 1, 2018.

The new ordinance stresses "self-management" of all types of religious groups to avoid being controlled by foreign powers, and makes it clear that religious groups on different government levels are allowed to send practitioners for overseas study.

Compared to the previous version, the latest regulations are more specific and stricter, which analysts say are aimed at solving the latest problems of China's religious affairs.

"The revision of the previous regulations is an important measure to fulfill and implement the spirit of Chinese President Xi Jinping's speech on religious affairs," the Xinhua News Agency reported on Thursday.

The revisions protect freedom of religious belief and stipulate provision on public services for religious groups, schools and venues. Religious communities can hold charity events in accordance with the law, and religious workers are entitled to social security rights, according to the revisions.

The new regulations highlight religious and social harmony and seek mutual respect between believers and nonbelievers, as well as between believers of different religions. Neither organizations nor individuals may incite conflict between different religions, within a religion or between believers and nonbelievers, the regulations said.

This is aimed at solving some of the problems which have cropped up in recent years, Liu Guopeng, an expert at the Institute of World Religion Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), told the Global Times on Monday. "China does have some problems like conflicts between different religions and the problem is getting serious."

"For instance, according to our research, Protestantism has been growing very quickly in recent years in the Chinese mainland, and the believers are more conservative than other Christians and they have frequently attacked some religions like Buddhism and Taoism, and also had conflicts with Islam," Liu said.

There have also been incidents between Muslims and other people in some parts of China. An alleged brawl involving Muslim minorities at a local highway toll station in Tangshan, North China's Hebei Province, in early September was the latest prominent conflict, which triggered a massive outcry on Chinese social media.

Broken balance

Due to the impact from the Middle East's Wahabbism, some Chinese Islamic groups in western regions, such as the Xinjiang Uyghur and Ningxia Hui autonomous regions, are also getting increasingly conservative and aggressive, Liu said. "The conflict between Islamism and other religions has even caused violence and bloodshed occasionally," he said.

Liu said he observed that the balance between religions has broken in these places, which is threatening social stability and functioning governance, "so the religious regulations must be enforced to deal with such situations as soon as possible," he added.

The latest regulations stressed that "All religions must stick to the principles of independence and self-governance," and "should not be controlled by any foreign force."

In June, two Chinese citizens who were recruited by a South Korean missionary organization were killed by Islamic State militants in Pakistan. This shows a dangerous trend that might see China become entangled in trouble with overseas terrorism, as South Korean missionaries are allegedly more active in recruiting Chinese to preach in Muslim countries, experts say.

"South Korean missionaries have been conducting underground missionary activities in China since at least a decade ago. Recruiting Chinese as missionaries can save lives for South Korean citizens. Additionally, many missionary organizations are even sponsored by the [South Korean] intelligence agency, the National Intelligence Service," said Chu Yin, an associate professor at the University of International Relations.

The revisions include management of religious affairs, covering supervision of religious property and online religious information services. New problems have emerged in religious affairs due to changing situations at home and abroad, requiring the 2005 regulations to be revised, according to a statement issued by the State Council in September 2016, Xinhua reported.

Newspaper headline: Stricter rules for religions

Posted in: POLITICS

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