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China’s Campaigns against “Illegal Religions”

China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported on February 21 that a document that the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the State Council issued on January 4 stated that the authorities would “step up the crackdown on illegal religions and overseas infiltration activities in rural areas.” The Xinhua report showed that there was an official instruction behind the campaign against “illegal religion” in a number of areas of China over the past two months.

The so-called “illegal religions” refers to Christian house churches, Catholic underground churches, or some Buddhist, Taoist, Islamic or other religious organizations that do not participate in official religious activities.

On February 8, a meeting of the CCP’s branch of the United Front Work Department in Shantou City, Guangdong Province asked that “all towns (neighborhoods) must … keep a close eye on religious and folk festivals” and “focus on investigations of and cracking down on illegal religious activities.”

On February 9, government officials in Duyun City, Guizhou Province carried out activities against “pornography and illegality” and “illegal religions.” Officials visited local communities to “prevent, in a timely manner, obscene and pornographic publications, illegal religious publications, and other cultural rubbish from appearing in the community .” In addition, authorities in Guiyang City, Guizhou Province, published an article on its official WeChat account on February 19, stating that a local neighborhood had organized staff and volunteers to “investigate illegal religions … and to find any illegal teaching of religious knowledge or any organization of religious activities.”

On February 20, a CCP official in Yunnan Province told local government officials to “resolutely combat the spread of illegal religious activities.”

On February 23, the branch of the CCP’s United Front Work Department in Nanchang City, Jiangxi Province established a task force to conduct a “special inspection” of local religious venues, to “focus on inspections for the existence of illegal religious publications,” and to “acquire detailed knowledge about the purchase or donation of religious publications in all venues.”

On February 23, a Christian venue in Liaoyang City, Liaoning Province received a “Notice of Banning Illegal Religious Activity Sites.” The local authorities had issued it and the venue was fined 200,000 yuan (US$ 30,870). Equipment and supplies related to religious activities were confiscated.

On February 24, in Fuyang City, Anhui Province, the police closed down two local religious assembly sites, including one Christian house church venue, in the name of “carrying out an illegal religious private assembly.”

Source: Radio Free Asia, February, 25, 2021