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Must Religions in China Follow the Party Line?

No religious groups in China can escape the CCP’s control. On November 6, the Great Ci’en Temple in Xi’an organized sessions to study the key points from the fifth plenary session so its members could “maintain a high degree of compliance with Xi Jinping’s dictates while cultivating and practicing core socialist values and steadily promoting the process of the Sinicization of Buddhism.” In November 2019, nuns from the Thousand Buddha Pagodas of the Cloud Gate College of the Guangdong Buddhist University completed a similar session following the CCP’s fourth plenary session. According to a public announcement that the London-based human rights organization, Tibet Watch, made last month, at least two monastery management committees in the Tibet Autonomous Region forced monks to study the messages from the Seventh Tibet Work Forum.

Even though the constitution guaranteed the Chinese people freedom of religion, the reality is that religion is being further limited in its development in China. In 2017, the State Council issued a revised “Regulations on Religious Affairs,” which imposed tighter reviews on religious groups. The newly revised “Regulations” not only emphasizes restrictions on the setup of religious schools and the distribution of foreign religious books; it also clearly stipulates that all religious groups must register with the government and go through a strict financial auditing of its books. They are also required to be vigilant to restrict foreign forces from using religion to infiltrate China.

According to the statistics in a White Paper, “China’s Policies and Practices to Guarantee Freedom of Religious Belief,” which the State Council released in 2018, there are nearly 200 million religious believers in China, about 5,500 religious organizations, and more than 10,000 students in religious schools.

Source: Radio Free Asia, November 11, 2020