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China targets religion on radio, TV and internet

New rules to ban content 'endangering social morality, disturbing social order, undermining social stability'
The TV production building of the Chinese Television System

The TV production building of the Chinese Television System (Wikimedia Commons)

Published: September 12, 2022 10:38 AM GMT
Updated: September 12, 2022 10:40 AM GMT

Communist China is moving ahead to adopt a new regulation for radio, television, and online programs that strictly bans among other things all forms of dissent and unauthorized religious content that threatens to disrupt “social order” and negate “socialist culture,” says a report.

The State Administration of Radio and Television published the draft regulation titled: “Provisions on the Administration of Radio, Television, and Online A/V Program Production and Business” last month and asked all for “soliciting comments” by Sept 8, Bitter Winter, a magazine on religious liberty and human rights reported Sept. 9.

The new regulation will put all such platforms under strict surveillance in line with orders from President Xi Jinping who reportedly claimed that they were “chaotic” and not fully controlled by the Communist Party of China (CCP).

The new rules ban foreigners from producing audiovisual programs for radio, TV, or internet broadcasting in China and limit production to explicitly authorized companies only.

Article 18 of the new regulation also provides a list of content strictly prohibited for production and distribution:

(A) Violating the basic principles established by the constitution, inciting resistance to or undermining the implementation of the constitution, laws, and regulations, distorting and negating advanced socialist culture;

(B) Endangering national unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, revealing state secrets, endangering national security, undermining national dignity, honor, and interests, promoting terrorism, extremism, and nihilism;

(C) Denigrating the excellent Chinese traditional culture, inciting ethnic hatred, ethnic discrimination, infringement of national customs and practices, distorting national history or national historical figures, hurting national feelings, and undermining national unity;

(D) Distorting, slandering, desecrating, or denying the revolutionary culture, or the deeds and spirit of the heroic martyrs;

(E) being contrary to national religious policy, or promoting xie jiao and superstition;

(F) Endangering social morality, disturbing social order, undermining social stability.

Xie Jiao (banned cults) is a collective of religions and religious practices banned in China by the CCP.

The regulation explicitly mentions “religion” but refers to the “national religious policy” which prohibits “unauthorized” religious activities and information through any media, Bitter Winter reported.

The reference to Xie Jiao covers a broad range of groups including folk religious practices which the CCP dismisses as “superstitions.”

Observers note that the category of “endangering social morality, disturbing social order, undermining social stability” covers all forms of dissent and criticism of the CCP and legitimizes the crackdown by the authorities.

China recognizes five organized religions — Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Islam. However, all religions and religious activities are strictly monitored. The authorities punish any unauthorized religious groups and activities through detention without charge, lengthy jail terms, and house arrests.

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