According to Bitter Winter, an organization focusing on religious liberty and human rights in China, China has launched a nationwide effort to crack down on foreign religious activities. The action is to implement the “Work Plan for the Investigation and Handling of Special Actions and activities of Overseas Christian Churches.” The Central United Front Work Department and the Ministry of Public Security issued the Plan. The document specifically mentioned some of the more prominent Christian churches in the United States and South Korea, including the “Jesus Youth Association,” the “School Missionary Society,” the “Evangelical Lutheran Church,” the “Pok Oi Church,” the “Love Church,” and the “Canaan Church.” It also called for the further suppression of the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” and some Korean Christian churches that had been severely attacked previously. The purpose is to prevent them from resuming religious activities.
The document stated that the main tasks of the special action include: “resolutely cracking down on foreign religious believers; “resolutely destroying the religious activities of foreign religious groups in the local area; and “resolutely preventing organizations from attending trainings in neighboring countries and regions. It also requires strict supervision of foreign-related missions on the Internet.
The document requires detailed investigation of foreign-related religious groups, including their background, organization, scale, scope of activities, meeting locations, personnel, online activities, funds and other information; and analysis of the relevant QQ group and WeChat group contents. All believers’ information will be entered into the data platform to establish a “Resistance to Foreign Christian Penetration Work Database.”
The crackdown effort includes closing the meeting places, training centers, seminaries, and other facilities; using a variety of comprehensive means to attack the participant’s beliefs, such as using work units and relatives to pressure them, cutting off welfare protection; using the transformation education system to convert the believers; and even imposing criminal sentences. The local party committee and government are responsible for the transformation and for completely cutting off any possibility of resuming religious activities.
The document requires that, while attacking religious believers, there needs to be an effort to develop undercover members within the church. “We must strive to build and develop a working relationship with those who are both domestic or in foreign countries so that it can be used for our work.”
The document requires that the Publicity Department produce articles and videos about the relevant religious groups and strengthen the publicity and education work for the general public while inciting them to “resist consciously any foreign-related religions.” The online department should do a good job of controlling “harmful information” and strengthening “positive guidance” online. The education department needs to strengthen management of teachers and university students, especially foreign teachers and students who have a religious background. The article also mentioned that there is another document entitled, “Investigating and Dealing with the External Correspondence of Christians from Foreign Countries,” but Bitter Winter was not able to obtain the specific contents of this document.
The document requires that, when carrying out crackdown activities, it should consider the timing so that it does not conflict with sensitive political events or holidays.
The document also requires strict enforcement of confidentiality disciplines. It is strictly forbidden to upload relevant documents to the website or through non-confidential channels such as WeChat.
The guiding principal of the document is based on Xi Jinping’s series of “important instructions” about resisting “international religious infiltration,” including “not allowing foreign religious forces to form a system within our country. We must not allow the formation of forces against the party and government in the religious field.”
Source: Bitter Winter, May 27, 2019