On Christmas Eve, Chinese government officials banned Christmas gatherings on the grounds of the epidemic. Meanwhile, five state agencies issued new regulations to prohibit online religious information and fundraising in the latest effort to prevent the spread of Western values.
Church gatherings to celebrate Christmas are restricted. The implementation differs in different places. Authorities at some locations may adjust the number of restrictions at any time. If a church has large events on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, it must report them and obtain prior approval from the authorities.
On December 20, 2021, Rong’an County Education Bureau in Guangxi Province issued a notice prohibiting any “Western Festivals” in primary and secondary schools. Some young people follow Western values and lifestyles, which Western developed countries promote in China using technology. “In accordance with the directives from higher authorities, the Rong’an Education Bureau decided to prohibit teachers and students from organizing any sort of “Western festivals” or celebrations on and off-campus.
Also, on December 20, five state agencies, the State Administration of Religious Affairs, the State Internet Information Office, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Ministry of Public Security, and the Ministry of National Security jointly issued the “Administrative Measures for Internet Religious Information Services.”
The new regulation, dated December 3, 2021, bans any organization or individual from uploading, publishing, forwarding, or spreading religious content on the Internet. No spiritual information may be provided in the form of text, pictures, audio, or video on websites, applications, forums, blogs, microblogs, public accounts, instant messaging tools, webcasts, or anything related.
“Overseas organizations or individuals and their organizations established in China shall not engage in Internet religious information services in China.”
The new regulation, effective on March 1, 2022, states that the religious groups with an “Internet Religious Information Service Permit” may only use their own websites, applications, forums, and other means, for spiritual information. The religious content must guide people to love the country and abide by the law when doing so. Further, the new regulation prohibits online fundraising for religious groups.
1.) Christian Network, December 22, 2021
2.) Radio Free Asia, December 21, 2021
3.) China National Religious Affairs Administration, December 20, 2021