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Shaolin Temple Raised National Flag; First Time in 1500 Years

China’s Shaolin Temple, with a history of more than 1,500 years, is located at Song Mountain in Henan Province. On Monday August 27, at 7:00 am, the temple held its very first national flag-raising ceremony. The abbot, Shi Yongxin, led the ceremony. A number of local officials, including a CCP Standing Committee member from Dengfeng City, participated in the flag-raising ceremony.

The official media stated that the raising of the national flag in religious venues matches with the theme of the Shaolin Temple, which is “patriotism and love for the religion.” The Shaolin Temple has taken the lead. It is hoped that religious people and religious believers will continue to enhance their respect for the national flag and adhere to the Sinicization of religion in mainland China.

Radio Free Asia contacted a monk from the Shaolin Temple who said that the authorities demanded that the national flag should be hung. There was no way for the temple not to obey. He did not dare to make too many comments.

Chen Shiqi, a senior lecturer at the Department of Religion and Philosophy of Hong Kong Baptist University said, “The authorities want to look for a role model in Buddhism. Of course, the best candidate is the Shaolin Temple. Because of its fame and its martial arts, the authorities use the Shaolin Temple as a symbol. If the Shaolin Temple follows their lead, all other Buddhist temples will also follow suit and hang the national flag. In the end the Christians and Catholics will also raise the flag.”

On July 31, the sixth assemblage of the joint meeting of national religious groups was held in Beijing. It issued the “Initiative on Raising the National Flag at Religious Venues.”

Source: Radio Free Asia, August 28, 2018
https://www.rfa.org/cantonese/news/shaolin-08282018093931.html

VOA: Authorities Force Chinese Citizens to Renounce Belief in Christianity

In recent years, the authorities across China have stepped up their efforts to suppress religious activities that are not officially permitted. Their actions have included the forced demolition of churches or the removal of church crosses, harassment and attacks on religious gatherings, and arrests of church missionaries and church members. In addition, there have been recent postings on the Internet showing that the authorities have been forcing Christian believers in China to sign a statement in which they renounce their belief in Christ. In an article, VOA published a picture of the standard renouncement form that contained the following statement: “I had limited understanding of Christianity. Taking on Christianity as my belief is also blindly following the trend. Now I have a more comprehensive understanding of religion and religious beliefs. After further studying Christianity, I have a clearer understanding of my spiritual needs. I announce that I will not participate in Christian religious activities from now on and I will no longer believe in Christianity.” Another Christian in Ma Anshan City of An Hui Province wrote the following personal statement, “After studying the regulations on religious affairs and on careful reflection, (I) promise not to believe in Christianity and will resolutely listen to the party and follow the party.” On April 3, the State Council published a White Paper reassuring that China has adopted the policy of freedom to practice one’s belief. Not long ago, however, 48 house churches in Beijing issued a joint statement criticizing the authorities for interfering in church activities and calling on the authorities to stop suppressing house churches and to respect the right of freedom of religious belief as stated in the Chinese Constitution.

Source: Voice of America, August 23, 2018
https://www.voachinese.com/a/news-some-local-authorities-in-china-force-people-to-give-up-religion-20180823/4541253.html

Xi’s Trusted Subordinates Take over Key Propaganda Posts

On August 21, Xu Lin, one of Xi Jinping’s former subordinates and ex-director of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission, took charge of the State Council Information Office, the government’s chief international propaganda apparatus. Analysts believe that, by putting those he trusts in this position, Xi Jinping is making sure that the propaganda system presents a China that he wants the world to see.

Zhuang Rongwen, 57, another former aide to Xi when he worked in Fujian Province, will be the new head of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission, or the Chinese cyber czar.

Xu Lin, 56, worked with Xi Jinping in Shanghai. In June 2015, he was transferred from the Propaganda Department of Shanghai’s CCP Committee to be the Deputy Director of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission. One year later, he was promoted to be the deputy head of the Central Propaganda Department.

Xi Jinping began to clean up the propaganda system after Liu Yunshan, a former Politburo Standing Committee member, resigned as the propaganda chief in 2017. Lu Wei, Liu’s henchman and former director of Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission and deputy head of the Central Propaganda Department, was sacked in November 2017 and later prosecuted.

On July 25, Jiang Jianguo, another sitting deputy head of Central Propaganda Department, had himself removed from the position of director of State Council Information Office, paving the way for Xu Lin’s appointment.

Source: Voice of America, August 21, 2018
https://www.voachinese.com/a/news-china-appoints-new-global-propaganda-czar-20180821/4538007.html

Beijing News: NAFMII Warned and Punished Dagong Global

Beijing News recently reported that the Dagong Global Credit Rating Group, China’s primary credit rating company, was under fire. China’s National Association of Financial Market Institutional Investors (NAFMII) just issued a “severe warning” to Dagong and banned Dagong from doing business in the debt financing tool ratings market segment for one year. Investigations showed that Dagong was providing direct consulting services to companies to which it had been issuing credit ratings. Dagong provided forged documents to the authorities during the investigations, trying to hide its conflict of interest. Dagong is China’s primary credit rating company. It was established to compete against global leaders like S&P, Moody’s, and Fitch. It is the only rating company in China authorized by the central bank to rate all debt financing tools (except government bonds) and the participating companies that use those tools.

Source: Beijing News, August 17, 2018
http://www.bjnews.com.cn/finance/2018/08/17/499954.html

Head of China’s Buddhist Association Resigned after Sexual Harassment Allegations

Radio France Internationale reported that the head of China’s Buddhist Association resigned on August 15 after his female disciples lodged allegations of sexual harassment against him. As a Communist Party member and head monk of Longquan Temple in Beijing, Shi Xuecheng has been accused of sexual misconduct against at least six female disciples. A 95 page long document shows the text messages and online chat records of his improper exchanges with the female disciples. China’s Buddhist Association said it will launch an investigation into the allegations. Shi is a member of the National Political Consultative Committee and has several million devoted Buddhist believers who follow him on WeChat. According to an Aboluowang article, Shi has close connections with high ranking officials, while the United Front Department manages him. After the sexual allegation scandal was exposed, any online postings containing words such as “Longquan Temple” or “Shi Xuecheng” disappeared from Sina Weibo. All that is left is Shi’s denial statement. An Epoch Times article quoted reports from an August 16 article in Hong Kong’s Sing Tao Daily which stated that the sex scandal had been brought to Xi Jinping’s attention. The Party’s United Front Department got involved in the investigation and ordered Shi to resign immediately to limit the negative publicity.

Sources:
1. Radio France Internationale, August 15, 2018
http://cn.rfi.fr/%E4%B8%AD%E5%9B%BD/20180815-%E6%B6%89%E6%80%A7%E4%BE%B5%E6%8C%87%E6%8E%A7-%E4%B8%AD%E5%9B%BD%E4%BD%9B%E6%95%99%E5%8D%8F%E4%BC%9A%E4%BC%9A%E9%95%BF%E9%87%8A%E5%AD%A6%E8%AF%9A%E8%BE%9E%E8%81%8C
2. Aboluowang, August 15, 2018
http://www.aboluowang.com/2018/0815/1158813.html
3. Epoch Times, August 18, 2018
http://www.epochtimes.com/gb/18/8/16/n10642832.htm

Beijing to Launch Patriotic Campaign to Target Intellectuals

According to Xinhua, recently, the Central Organization and the Publicity Department jointly published a notice to launch a “patriotic campaign” targeting intellectuals. The notice stated that the campaign is to “carry out the directions of Xi Jinping to unite the intellectuals with the party and the people and build a consensus among intellectuals to share the goals and the values for which the Party and the Country are fighting.” An RFA article calls the patriotic campaign another round of brainwashing campaigns because the authorities are most concerned about the criticisms that the intellectuals are making. For example, in recent months, the mainland intellectual community has continuously discussed China’s economic strength. Since the beginning of the year, it has been widely believed that China’s comprehensive strength can surpass the U.S. In recent months, however, more and more scholars have publicly stated that China’s economic strength appears impressive but lacks real value. Some people have even questioned Xi Jinping’s policy of governing the country.

Sources:
1. Xinhua, July 31, 2018
http://www.xinhuanet.com/politics/2018-07/31/c_1123203383.htm
2. Radio Free Asia, August 2, 2018
https://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/zhengzhi/ql2-08022018101541.html

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