ucanews.com reporter, Hong KongUpdated: May 06, 2014 10:48 PM GMT
Chinese Catholics arrive for mass at a church in Donglu in Hebei province last year (AFP photo/Mark Ralston)
Beijing on Tuesday issued a national security alert in which it stated that religion posed a serious threat to Chinese identity, further stoking fears of a backlash on Christian in the wake of recent church demolitions.
The report, or “blue book”, which was co-released by the University of International Relations and the Social Science Academic Press (China) during a conference in Beijing, states that the “infiltration of religion has constituted a threat to Chinese identification with socialist belief”.
Wu Li, vice director of the Institute of Contemporary China at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told local media that the blue book “comes at the right time”, as it could offer advice to the newly established National Security Council in China, which was created in November and held its first meeting last month.
The report spelled out four “severe challenges” to national security including the exporting of democracy by western nations, western cultural hegemony, the dissemination of information on the internet and religious infiltration.
“Western hostile forces are infiltrating China’s religions in a more diverse way and in a wider range; deploying more subtle means either openly or secretly; and are strongly seditious and deceptive in nature,” the report states.
“Foreign religious infiltration powers have penetrated all areas of the Chinese society,” it added.
Ying Fuk-tsang, director of the Centre for the Study of Religion and Chinese Society at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told ucanews.com that religions in China involve different backgrounds, noting that terrorists could manipulate religion in Xinjiang and Tibet, and that separatism leads to social tension.
As for Western faiths such as Christianity, Ying said that Beijing acknowledges their contributions but also fears the West’s use of religion and human rights to “bring peaceful evolution”.
The same fears apply to NGOs, which Beijing considers mostly faith-based. “We can say the Party is now preventing all aspects so that it does not affect its rule. Against this backdrop, it is not difficult to understand the wave of demolition of Christian worshipping grounds in Zhejiang recently,” Ying said.
Authorities in Wenzhou last week carried out demolitions of the sanctuary of the Protestant Sanjiang church as well as religious statues and images from a Catholic-owned hilltop park.
The Ministry of Civil Affairs and the State Administration for Religious Affairs on Monday also jointly issued a statement with respect to faith-based orphanages that bans what was described as the forced conversion of orphans.