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Chinese City Guangzhou Offers Rewards for Tip-offs on Religion Crackdown

On March 20, 2019, the Department of Ethnic and Religious Affairs of Guangzhou, a city of 14 million people, which is adjacent to Hong Kong, announced that members of the public could earn up to 10,000 yuan (US$1,500) for providing tip-offs about “illegal religious activities.”

The announcement prohibits anyone from using “religions to carry out activities that undermine the social order, harm the health of citizens, or impede the State’s educational system.”

According to the announcement, the “illegal religious activities” that were targeted include the construction of temples and statues of Buddha, organizing pilgrimages, private Christian gatherings, spreading religion on the Internet, religious training, and the printing of religious publications that the authorities did not approve.

The department’s website said the new reward scheme also has the purpose of “resisting penetration” by foreign countries that use religion to Westernize or divide the Chinese people. “At present, the use of religion for infiltration activities abroad is pervasive and this trend is increasing.”

Further, according to the announcement, “at present, hostile forces and lawless elements carry our many illegal and criminal activities under the banner of religion. These activities undermine the unity of the country and national unity, violate the rights of citizens, and seriously endanger society.”

Department of Ethnic and Religious Affairs of Guangzhou, March 20, 2019