UCA News

Pro-Beijing groups discuss ‘sinicization of Christianity’ in HK

There is an increase in communication between state-run Christian groups in Hong Kong and mainland China, says rights group
Catholic worshippers attend Mass on Holy Saturday, March 31, 2018, part of Easter celebrations at Beijing's government-sanctioned South Cathedral

Catholic worshippers attend Mass on Holy Saturday, March 31, 2018, part of Easter celebrations at Beijing's government-sanctioned South Cathedral. (Photo by Greg Baker/AFP)

Published: May 27, 2023 04:39 AM GMT
Updated: May 27, 2023 04:44 AM GMT

State-sanctioned Christian organizations in Hong Kong arranged the first seminar on Beijing’s policy of “sinicization of Christianity” which is seen as a step to introduce the political ideology in the former British colony.

The two-day joint seminar was organized by the China Christian Council (CCC) and the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) at the building of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) of Hong Kong, ChinaAid reported on May 25.

The report, referring to Hong Kong’s Christian Times, said that the meeting came amid an increase in communication between pro-government church groups in Hong Kong and the mainland.

A total of 120 people attended the program including about two dozen members of two Christian groups and pastors, teachers from Hong Kong seminaries, and leaders of different denominations, churches, and Christian organizations.

Reverend Wong Ka-fai, the chairperson of the Hong Kong Christian Council said that sinicization is an “important” research subject.

“The Sinicization of Christianity is a very important research field for the churches and academia in the mainland,” he said. “To understand the situation of the churches in China, this issue cannot be ignored.”

Wang pointed out that in the past, Hong Kong churches did not often discuss the concept of Sinicization. He hoped to deepen this discussion in the future.

Sinicization of religion is one of the major policies of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). This profoundly political ideology seeks to impose socialist principles on society and institutions to ensure loyalty to the CCP leadership, observers say.

The CCP and its two main religious affairs bodies – the National Religious Affairs Administration and the United Front Work Department – have been advancing the policy in various provinces in mainland China in recent years.

ChinaAid reports that with sinicization the CCP aims to mold beliefs to have Christianity with “Chinese characteristics” and like all legally recognized religions to be more compliant with Communist ideology.

During the seminar, Pastor Wu Wei, president of the China Christian Council said sinicization is a process “conducive to social harmony.”

Wu said that adhering to sinicization is to “take the core values of socialism as the origin, carry forward the fine traditions of the Chinese nation, and cultivate the concepts such as unity, progress, peace, and tolerance.”

He also claimed that more “church education” could lead to social harmony, progress, and a healthy civilization. Churches must be educated to meet the developmental requirements and be up to pace with the progress of contemporary China.

Sinicization of Christianity should be guided by the core values of socialism and immersed in excellent traditional culture, Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing newspaper, Ta Kung Pao, quoted Wu as saying.  

Hong Kongers should “get rid of the mentality of reverencing all things foreign and tell more stories from Chinese history,” the article insisted.

The CCP’s efforts to assert more control over religions and religious groups intensified after Beijing released a white paper on April 3, 2018, titled “China’s Policies and Practices on Protecting Freedom of Religion Belief.”

It emphasized the need to “incorporate religious work into the national governance system and use laws to regulate various social relations involving religion,” according to ChinaAid.

The efforts on sinicization in Hong Kong come as Christianity faces political pressure in the city that enjoyed a higher degree of autonomy, freedom, and rights under the “one country, two systems” framework since the 1997 British handover.

However, the Beijing-imposed repressive national security law of 2020, in response to a strong pro-democracy movement, saw the freedoms and rights erode significantly in recent years in the city of 7.5 million.

Help UCA News to be independent
Dear reader,
Lent is the season during which catechumens make their final preparations to be welcomed into the Church.
Each year during Lent, UCA News presents the stories of people who will join the Church in proclaiming that Jesus Christ is their Lord. The stories of how women and men who will be baptized came to believe in Christ are inspirations for all of us as we prepare to celebrate the Church's chief feast.
Help us with your donations to bring such stories of faith that make a difference in the Church and society.
A small contribution of US$5 will support us continue our mission…
William J. Grimm
UCA News
Asian Bishops
Latest News
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia