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China stresses more Marxism, tightening control of religion

President Xi Jinping urges 'full and faithful' implementation of Chinese Communist Party's theory on religious affairs
China stresses more Marxism, tightening control of religion

Father Francis Cui Qingqi, 57, was ordained as the bishop of Wuhan in central China on Sept. 8 under a deal the Vatican and China signed on bishops’ appointments in 2018 and renewed in 2020. (Photo: chinacatholic.cn)

Published: December 10, 2021 06:59 AM GMT
Updated: December 10, 2021 07:11 AM GMT

The Chinese Communist Party’s national conference on religious affairs headed by President Xi Jinping stressed the strict implementation of Marxist policies, increased online surveillance and tightening control of religion to ensure national security.

During the conference in Beijing on Dec. 3-4, Xi emphasized the importance of “upholding the principle of developing religions in the Chinese context and providing active guidance for the adaptation of religions to socialist society,” according to a statement from the CCP.

Xi said China would further promote the Sinicization of religion, with a focus on strengthening control of online religious affairs, and insisted that all religious activities must be conducted within the boundary of the law, reports Xinhua news agency.

“It is necessary to cultivate a team of party and government cadres who are proficient in Marxist religious views, familiar with religious work, and good at working with religious believers, and let them study Marxist religious views, the CCP’s religious work theories and policies, and religious knowledge,” he said.

Xi also urged “full and faithful” implementation of the CCP’s theory on religious affairs in the new era, the basic policy on religious affairs, and the policy on the freedom of religious belief, based on Marxism.

“All religious groups are required to strengthen their self-management and emphasize the need to improve the rule of law in religious affairs governance,” he said.

Under Xi’s rule, the CCP leadership has adopted repressive legislation and policies to tighten control on religions

Bitter Winter reported that Xi lamented that monitoring the internet to prevent religious propaganda and inappropriate remarks on social media is still not functioning properly.

He called for more surveillance and for punishing believers who use social networks for religious proselytization or criticism of the government’s religious policy.

The conference was attended by all senior CCP leaders, who agreed with Xi’s view that although there has been progress in implementing policies on religious affairs, problems still exist.

The CCP leadership resolved that the five state-sanctioned religious bodies should develop a “religious theory of socialism with Chinese characteristics” so that religions can learn to conduct their activities in their places of worship and accept that they should not “interfere with social life” and the education of the younger generations.

Observers say the outcome of the conference is likely to instill further fear among religious groups in a country where they have been facing an increasing crackdown ever since Xi Jinping became president in 2013.

Officially, communist China is an atheist state but it recognizes the legal identity of five religions — Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism, Protestantism and Islam. All recognized religions and religious activities are strictly controlled by state-sanctioned bodies.

Under Xi’s rule, the CCP leadership has adopted repressive legislation and policies to tighten control on religions.

Religious organizations and clergy face surveillance and penalties if they violate various laws regulating religious groups, including the 2018 regulations on religious affairs. The rules require all religious organizations and clergy to be registered with the state and prohibit any activity that the state deems illegal and unauthorized.

Besides, all religious groups are required to implement the policy of Sinicization, a profoundly political ideology that aims to impose strict rules on societies and institutions based on the core values of socialism, autonomy and supporting the leadership of the CCP.

China’s crackdown on freedom of religion has sparked international condemnation for years. Since 1999, China has been designated as a “country of particular concern” in annual reports of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom for severe violations of religious freedom.

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