On September 23, Wang Zuoan, Director of China’s State Religious Affairs, who is also the Deputy Minister of the United Front Work Department, spoke at the 70th Anniversary of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement conference. He stated that, through the “Three-Self” patriotic movement, Chinese Christianity has completely gotten rid of the control and influence of foreign forces. He also emphasized that the “Sinification of Christianity” should be the main focus of religious work.
Wang said that he hopes that “the Chinese Christian community will focus on the following: the major changes unfolding in the world, something unseen in a century, the overall strategy of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and its earnest study, and the implementation of the important talks that Xi Jinping gave on religious issues and religious work.” Wang also stated that religious work should continuously enhance the “five identities.” This refers to the people of all ethnic groups recognizing the great motherland, the Chinese nation, Chinese culture, the Chinese Communist Party, and socialism with Chinese characteristics.
In a separate speech, Rev. Xu Xiaohong, Chairman of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee, said that the committee “must always adhere to the direction of the Sinicization of Christianity in our country, and make a contribution to the realization of the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”
The “Three-Self” movement is a movement that Chinese Christianity created after the CCP established its power. It is against foreign interference. It means “autonomy” (independence from foreign religious organizations), “self-support” (economic independence from foreign governments or foreign religious organizations) and “self-propagation” (preached and interpreted by Chinese missionaries) of the Chinese church. The Christian church that China officially recognizes is often called the “Three-Self Church.”
Since 2016, Xi Jinping has repeatedly emphasized the “Sinicization of religion” in his speeches. In addition to “Sinicization,” Xi Jinping also emphasized guiding “religion to adapt to the socialist society” and “using socialist core values to guide and educate religious people and believers.”
1. Xinhua, September 24, 2020
2. Central News Agency. September 25, 2020