What Spirituality Is Condemned In China? (Correct answer)

Most ethnic Tibetans practice a distinct form of Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism. The Uighurs, who primarily live in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, are predominantly Muslim. Over a dozen religious or spiritual groups are banned in China as “evil cults,” including Falun Gong and the Church of Almighty God.

What are the beliefs of the Chinese people?

  • In addition to the five main religions, Chinese people have some other traditional folk beliefs. More than 200 million people believe the existence of the ancestors’ souls and worship them, while about 700 million have taken part in the activities to worship their ancestors or related activities.

What religion is banned in China?

China is officially an atheist state and Communist Party members are banned from believing in or practicing any faith; there is concern that religion can function as an alternative to Communism and thus undermine loyalty to the government.

Why is Falun Gong Banned?

Initially, the CCP-controlled press declared that Falun Gong was banned as a threat to social order because its spiritual beliefs and values of truth, compassion, and tolerance were incompatible with Marxist materialism. Falun Gong was not banned as an “evil religion” or “evil cult” then.

Can you read the Bible in China?

Among China’s major religions — which include Buddhism, Taoism, Islam and folk beliefs — Christianity is the only one whose major holy text cannot be sold through normal commercial channels. The Bible is printed in China but legally available only at church bookstores.

Can you bring a Bible into China?

Can I take Bible to China? Answer: Bibles are allowed for personal use and up to three copies is a reasonable number. Any extra copies will be confiscated by Customs.

Is Falun Gong a religion?

In the West, Falun Gong is frequently classified as a religion on the basis of its theological and moral teachings, its concerns with spiritual cultivation and transformation, and its extensive body of scripture.

Why was Falun Gong persecuted China?

The persecution of Falun Gong is the antireligious campaign initiated in 1999 by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to eliminate the spiritual practice of Falun Gong in China, maintaining a doctrine of state atheism.

How many members does Falun Gong have?

Given the force of the CCP’s crackdown, few observers would have expected Falun Gong to survive. But a 2017 study by Freedom House concluded that 7 to 20 million people in China continue to practice Falun Gong, including many who took up the discipline after the repression began.

Is the Catholic Church allowed in China?

The Catholic Church is allowed to operate freely in Macau and Hong Kong. In fact, Donald Tsang, the former Chief Executive of Hong Kong, is a Catholic.

Are there Pentecostal churches in China?

The Jesus Family is a unique Pentecostal communitarian church first established in Shandong province in the late 1920s. It is a more distinctive type of independent churches in China. Founded and established by Jing Dianying (敬奠瀛) [1] near Mazhuang, they are located mostly in rural areas.

Is Christianity allowed in Japan?

Christianity in Japan is among the nation’s minority religions in terms of individuals who state an explicit affiliation or faith. The majority of Japanese people are of the Shinto or Buddhist faith. The majority of Japanese couples, typically 60–70%, are wed in Christian ceremonies.

Can you bring a Bible to Saudi Arabia?

Saudi Arabia allows Christians to enter the country as foreign workers for work or tourism, but does not allow them to practice their faith openly. Bringing a Bible and other types of religious texts are allowed into the country as long as it is for personal use.

What Cannot be shipped to China?

Coins; banknotes; currency notes, including paper money; securities of any kind payable to bearer; traveler’s checks; platinum, gold, and silver; precious stones; jewelry; watches; and other valuable articles are prohibited in Priority Mail Express International shipments to China.

Does China take American ginseng?

Answer: No, American ginseng can not be taken into China.”

China Is Stepping Up Its Control over Religion

Professional Spiritual Care Counselors (SCCs) at Hope Hospice have completed at least one year of hospital residency in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), and they are ordained by and responsible to an established ordaining body. SCCs have studied a variety of faiths, civilizations, and spiritual practices as part of their education. The SCCs are trained to provide a ministry of presence to patients and their families towards the end of life, no matter where they are in their spiritual journey.

Sometimes the reaction includes a religious ceremony or prayer that is appropriate for the situation.

Sometimes it is neither spiritual nor religious in nature.

A professional athlete collaborates with an athletic trainer to maintain muscular strength and activity.

Nelson, James M.

Springer Publishing Company, New York, New York.

Falun Gong

Known also as Falun Dafa, Falun Gong (Chinese: “Discipline of the Dharma Wheel”) is a controversial Chinese spiritual movement started by Li Hongzhi in 1992. Falun Gong is sometimes written Falungong and is also known as Falun Dafa. As a result of the movement’s unexpected rise to prominence in the late 1990s, the Chinese government expressed worry, branding it a “heretical cult” at the time. Falun Gong is a branch of qigong (Chinese: “discipline of the vital breath”), a synthesis of traditional medical and self-cultivation practices developed in the early 1950s by members of the Chinese medical establishment as part of an effort to promote traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in modern socialist China.

  • The practice of qigong was formerly available in various hospitals and sanitariums in the 1950s and early 1960s, but it was outlawed during the Cultural Revolution (1966–76) because of its “feudal” origins.
  • Overnight, qigong gained the status of “scientific practice,” a shift in status that resulted in the state approving qigong activities.
  • The qigong boom occurred during the 1980s and 1990s and lasted around 20 years.
  • A number of qigong journals and newspapers, as well as best-selling biographies of the masters, provided support for the masters’ efforts.

Although the majority of qigong practitioners were most likely drawn to the practice for health reasons, other currents in the qigong movement included experiments with alleged paranormal phenomena and extrasensory perception (ESP), as well as a wide variety of spiritual and cultural pursuits, according to the literature.

Aside from its high-level supporters, the qigong movement also had adversaries, who characterized the practice as superstition and ruse to gain an advantage over others.

Li Hongzhi founded Falun Gong (“Discipline of the Dharma Wheel”) in 1992 in an attempt to revive the qigong movement’s waning fortunes.

Li’s initial message was to erase qigong’s connotations with fraud and faith healing by emphasizing “higher-level cultivation,” which he defined as “a higher degree of cultivation.” In addition, he first offered his lectures free of charge, depending instead on sales of his books and other Falun Gong memorabilia to support himself and his family.

Estimates of the number of Falun Gong adherents during this time period range widely, ranging from around 2 million to more than 60 million individuals.

Early in 1995, Li made the decision to go to the United States, ostensibly in order to avoid political difficulties generated by the continued demonization of qigong in the Chinese media.

First and foremost, shortly after his departure from China, Li proclaimed that his recently published textZhuan falun (1994; “The Revolving Dharma Wheel”), which was in actuality a transcription of a nine-part lecture series, would be the primary emphasis of Falun Gong practice going forward.

Considering the larger context of the qigong movement, where manuals had typically acted as how-to books and cultivation aids, rather than as sacred writings, this was a significant shift for the movement (althoughZhuan faluncould be downloaded from theInternetfor free, followers were not allowed to write on the pages of the work).

Two points to note: first, despite Li’s absence and the generally deteriorating fortunes of both qigong and Falun Gong, the vast majority of Falun Gong practitioners in China continue to believe that their practice is completely legal, despite the fact that high-level debates on the subject within the Chinese government have come up empty-handed.

Finally, on April 25, 1999, a large and unscheduled assembly of over 20,000 Falun Gong practitioners demonstrated outside the Chinese Communist Party’s headquarters in Beijing.

Falun Gong was quickly labeled as the greatest threat to national security since the 1989 student demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, and the movement was outlawed as a “heretical cult” by the Chinese government.

Before a series of self-immolations by putative Falun Gong devotees in Tiananmen Square in January 2001 convinced many of the Western media that the group was actually a “cult,” Falun Gong supporters portrayed their cause as one of religious freedom in the Western media (Falun Gong followers insisted that the immolations were staged by the Chinese government).

Falun Gong is a Chinese spiritual movement that originated in 1989. David Ownby is a British actor who has appeared in a number of films and television shows.


Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey, is a member of the United States House of Representatives. During her Chinese detention, Mihr igul Tursun claimed she begged God to take her life while the electrical currents racing through her body were intensified by her Chinese captors. In a congressional hearing on Nov. 28, Tursun, a Muslim Uighur who fled to the United States in September, broke down in tears as she recalled her ordeal in one of China’s infamous political “re-education facilities.” As dire threats to religious freedom mount in President Xi Jinping’s China, this is an alarming scenario that has become all too familiar to the world community.

We must all unite in our opposition to these breaches of human rights.

The Communist Party’s legitimacy is under threat, and Xi is attempting to dramatically change religion into a servant of the party through the use of a harsh program known as “assinicization,” which means “assimilating into the party.” Under the regime of sinicization, all faiths and adherents are required to conform to and vigorously promote communist doctrine, or face expulsion.

  • These efforts have resulted in a terrible toll on human lives.
  • The United States government is looking into new accusations that ethnic minorities held in internment camps are being compelled to make commodities for export to the United States, according to the Associated Press.
  • After signing a ” provisional agreement” with the Chinese government in September, the Vatican effectively ceded control of the selection of every candidate for bishop in China, which has an estimated 10 million to 12 million Catholics.
  • Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, a retired bishop of Hong Kong, described the agreement as “a full capitulation” by the Vatican and a “terrible betrayal” of the faith in a statement in September.
  • Initial reports indicate that the situation is less than encouraging.
  • The Vatican should rethink its agreement with the Chinese government, according to the Vatican.
  • Although the United States and other European nations have denounced China’s persecution of Muslim Uighurs, Christians, Tibetan Buddhists, and Falun Gong practitioners, any nation that cherishes religious freedom should join together in condemning China’s treatment of these people.
  • My colleague, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and I have asked the Trump administration to utilize the Global Magnitsky Act penalties to pursue Chinese officials who have committed egregious human rights violations.
  • We have also sponsored the bipartisan Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2018, which will allow the government with new measures to confront the abuse in a comprehensive manner.

The United States must lead the way in informing the Chinese Communist Party of this.

Regulating Religion in China

Representative for New Jersey in the United States House of Representatives, Chris Smith is a Republican. During her Chinese detention, Mihr igul Tursun claimed she begged God to take her life while the electrical currents racing through her body were intensified by her Chinese guards. In a congressional hearing on Nov. 28th, Tursun, a Muslim Uighur who fled to the United States in September, broke down and sobbed as she recalled her ordeal in one of China’s infamous political “re-education” camps.

  • Everything that is going on in that country cannot be ignored.
  • Since Chairman Mao Zedong declared the destruction of religion as a goal of his catastrophic Cultural Revolution half a century ago, the governing Chinese Communist Party has launched the most thorough effort to manage and control — or perhaps destroy — religious groups in history.
  • A five-year sinicization plan for Chinese Protestant Christians has also been announced by government authorities.
  • In the process, a surprising number of people have died.
  • It has been brought to the attention of the United States administration that ethnic minorities in internment camps are being compelled to make commodities that are destined for the country.
  • It was in September that officials from the Vatican signed a “provisional agreement” that basically gave China’s government the authority to pick — subject to papal approval — every candidate for bishop in the country, which has an estimated 10 to 12 million Catholics.
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Tom Farr, president of the Religious Freedom Institute, testified at a congressional hearing I presided over in September that the government-controlled organization charged with implementing the policy, the Catholic Patriotic Association, had drafted an implementation document that contained the following passage: “The Church will regard promotion and education on core socialist values as a basic requirement for adhering to the Sinicization of Catholicism.” In order to promote and sustain right perspectives on history as well as the nation, it will serve as a guide for clergy and Catholics.” The church may have received concessions from Beijing that have not yet been public, and one might hope for that.

  1. Initial indications indicate that the situation is less than encouraging.
  2. This accord between the Vatican and the Chinese government should be reconsidered.
  3. However, any nation that cherishes religious freedom should join in opposing China’s persecution of Muslim Uighurs, Christians, Tibetan Buddhists, and Falun Gong practitioners, as has already been done by the United States and other European nations.
  4. My colleague, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and I have asked the Trump administration to apply the Global Magnitsky Act penalties on Chinese officials who have committed heinous human rights abuses.
  5. To that end, we have sponsored the bipartisan Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2018 to offer the government with new measures to confront the abuse in a comprehensive manner.

The United States must lead the way in informing the Chinese Communist Party of this.

US hits China and others for repressing religious freedom

WASHINGTON (AP) – According to a statement released on Wednesday, the Biden administration has targeted China and many other nations for restricting religious freedom as it moves forward with its goal of making human rights a key priority of American foreign policy. The condemnation was similar to that issued by the Trump administration, which had been criticized for prioritizing religious freedom over other human rights. It also reflected continuity in the United States’ position that China’s crackdown on Muslims and other religious minorities in western Xinjiang amounts to “genocide,” according to the United Nations.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a similar vein to his predecessor, used the release of the State Department’s annual International Religious Freedom Report to criticize China for imposing harsh limitations on its residents’ freedom to practice their religion freely.

In a press conference following the release of the report for the calendar year 2020, Blinken stated that “China broadly criminalizes religious expression and continues to commit crimes against humanity and genocide against Muslim Uyghurs and members of other religious and ethnic minority groups.” According to the research, Christians, Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, and Falun Gong practitioners all suffer from “serious social discrimination in job, housing, and commercial possibilities” in China, according to the report itself.

However, while Blinken did not spare China any criticism, his statements were less lengthy than those made by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during prior religious freedom events in the United States.

Blinken also expressed his displeasure with violations of religious freedom in Iran, Myanmar, and Russia in his remarks.

Daniel Nadel, a senior official in the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom, said the report released on Wednesday did not represent a shift in the way the United States views human rights, but rather a recognition that religious rights are just as important as political rights in a democracy like the United States.

There is no departure from any earlier notion in this regard, but there is a clarification, since Secretary Pompeo did express his belief that there was potentially a hierarchy of rights concept in this regard. “And it is a point of view from which the current government differs,” Nadel remarked.

China Tells Christians to Replace Images of Jesus with Communist President

Chinese authorities have ordered thousands of Christian villages to take down representations of Jesus, crosses, and passages from the gospels from their houses as part of a government propaganda campaign to “convert believers in religion into believers in the party,” according to reports. According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), officials from the Communist Party of China (CPC) paid a visit to believers’ houses in Yugan county, Jiangxi province, where around 10% of the population professes faith in Christ.

According to the South China Morning Post, the activities were part of a government attempt to alleviate poverty in the region, since some CPC members feel that families’ faith is to blame for their financial difficulties.

“Many low-income families have been forced into poverty as a result of a family member’s illness.

“However, we attempted to explain to them that becoming unwell is a physical phenomenon and that the only individuals who can truly assist them are the Communist Party and General Secretary Xi.” Christians in Yugan County allege they were warned that they would not be eligible for government help until their political posters were taken down, despite the fact that the party disputes the assertion.

The announcement comes only weeks after the Communist Party of China (CPC) completed its national conference, during which Xi proceeded to strengthen party authority and enacted a landmark piece of legislation.

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Since the beginning of Chinese history, there has been a great deal of variation in religious practices. There are temples of many different religions dotting the Chinese landscape, including temples dedicated to Heaven worship, Taoism, Buddhism, and Chinese folk religion, among others. Since its emergence in the first century, Mahayana Buddhism has been the most significant organized religion in China. A number of reasons contribute to the difficulty of studying religion in China. The classification of a Chinese belief system as either a religion or a philosophy can be difficult due to the fact that many Chinese belief systems include conceptions of a holy and occasionally spiritual world but do not necessarily reference a concept of God.

  1. In contrast to many Western faiths, Chinese religions are family-oriented and do not require followers to subscribe to a single religion exclusively.
  2. The reverence of ancestors, Chinese folk religion, shamanism, Taoism, and the devotion of localized deities are some of the major kinds of religion that have arisen in China.
  3. Numerous Chinese have also had beliefs in astrology, Feng Shui, geomancy, and numerology, among other things, throughout history.
  4. He was not regarded as a divinity, but rather as a mediator between the powers of heaven and earth, according to traditional beliefs.

Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity are examples of minority faiths that have been imported from other countries.

Heaven worship

The “official” orthodox religion system, which was adhered to by most Chinese dynasties until the collapse of the Qing Dynasty, is a panentheistic system centered on the worship of “Heaven” as an all-powerful force. Before the establishment of Confucianism and Taoism, as well as the advent of Buddhism and Christianity, there was a religion system known as Xuanzang. It possesses characteristics of monotheism in that Heaven is regarded as an almighty being endowed with personality but without a bodily manifestation.

  • It is customary to worship Heaven by erecting shrines, the most important of which is the Altar of Heaven in Beijing, and by giving prayers.
  • When it came to heaven worship, no idols were authorized.
  • Despite the fact that it eventually lost popularity with the arrival of religions such as Buddhism and Taoism, among others, some of its principles remained in use throughout the pre-modern period.
  • This resulted in heaven being worshipped by Chinese emperors continuing to be the official cult or religion for centuries.
  • Elements of Chinese folk religion were also absorbed into the official religion.
  • The notion of an all-powerful Heaven has persisted in popular phrases for centuries.
  • The Earth, the Sun, and the Moon are examples of such bodies.

Ancestor worship

The worship of ancestors in China extends back to antiquity (10,000 BC), predating both Confucianism and Taoism in the country. Traditionally Chinese culture, Confucianism, and Chinese Buddhism all place a high priority on filial piety, and the act is viewed as a continuing demonstration of devotion and respect for one’s deceased forefathers and foremothers. Even mythical or historical characters such as the patriarch or founder of one’s Chinese surname, as well as noble persons like as Confucius or Guan Yu, or mythological figures such as the Yellow Emperor, who is considered to be the ancestor of all Chinese people, are revered.

The majority of the time, worshipers offer prayers and food to the ancestors, as well as incense and candles, as well as burn offerings of spirit money.

Whether or whether this act represents a form of adoration or devotion, it became embroiled in the Chinese Rites dispute, which sparked a discussion about whether or not the practice was incompatible with the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church.


Traditionally, the origins of Taoism (also known as “Religious Taoism”) may be traced back to the creation of the Tao Te Ching or to the formation of the Way of the Celestial Masters by Zhang Daoling, while some Taoist schools trace their origins back considerably further in time. Traditions of Taoism are based on notions contained in traditional wisdom writings such as the Book of Tao and Its Virtues or the Dao De Jing (Book of Virtues) (Tao Te Ching). Some people believe this text was written by the sage Lao Zi, who is considered to be a legendary figure who has now become revered as a deity by some people.

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Taoism (in its unstructured form) is sometimes referred to be the “folk religion” of China because of its widespread practice.


In the Han era, Buddhism was imported from South Asia and Central Asia and quickly gained popularity among Chinese of all social classes, was revered by commoners, and was even sponsored by emperors in some dynasties. Buddhism was banned in the Qing dynasty. Buddhism has become increasingly popular in recent years, and it has also gained backing from the government. It is the most significant organized religion in the country. Estimates of the number of Buddhist adherents in China varies considerably from 100 million to 607.4 million, or around 8 to 46.5 percent of the Chinese population.

It should be emphasized that many Chinese identify as both Taoists and Buddhists at the same time, which is not uncommon.


Several accounts claim that some of Prophet Muhammad’s companions arrived in China as early as AD 650, when the Tang Emperor Gaozong showed significant respect for Islam and believed that its teachings were compatible with the values advocated by Confucius). Islam was first introduced into China through the Silk Road in the 7th century. As trade channels developed, merchants and craftsmen were able to disseminate Islam more widely in the later centuries. During the Yuan Dynasty, a large number of mosques and educational institutions were built.

Great Mosque of Tongxin is located in Ningxia.

It is practiced by around 1.5 to 2.5 percent of the Chinese population, primarily by ethnic minorities such as the Hui, the Uyghurs, and the Kazakhs, according to estimates.

Approximately 20 million Muslims live in China, according to official government figures In 2006, a record number of Chinese pilgrims traveled to Mecca for the hajj, breaking the previous record set in 2005.


The Nestorian Stone in Xi’an documents the arrival of Nestorianism into China in AD 635, which was propagated by Middle-Eastern travelers who arrived in China at the time of the initial admission of Christianity into the country. Missionary activity in China began in 1289 with the arrival of Catholic Franciscan friars from Europe. This mission came to an end in 1368, when the Ming Dynasty banned Christianity from China for the first time. Francis Xavier launched the first Jesuit effort to enter China in 1552, but he died the next year on the Chinese island of Shangchuan, having failed to reach the mainland.

  • Since the relaxation of religious prohibitions in the 1970s, Christianity has experienced substantial growth in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
  • These organizations adhere to the rules and restrictions that have been imposed on them.
  • This type of fellowship is not officially recognized, is seen as an unlawful entity, and is occasionally subjected to harassment.
  • Although the number of house churches continues to expand, the number of Bible study groups and unofficial seminaries has also increased.
  • According to a recent poll, Christians account for around 3 percent of the population, or approximately 70 million people.


Small communities of Jews established themselves in China during the Tang Dynasty (7th to 10th centuries AD) or earlier. Kaifeng, in the Chinese province of Henan, was the site of the most important early settlement. Numerous Jews arrived in Hong Kong and Shanghai in the twentieth century during their respective cities’ periods of economic expansion in the first decades of the century, as well as for the purpose of escaping the Holocaust in Western Europe and the communist revolution in Russia, which occurred at the time of their arrival.

The remainder of the population migrated prior to or soon after the founding of the People’s Republic.

Meanwhile, communities in Shanghai and Hong Kong are still being maintained by descendants of the later immigration. In recent years, there has also been a growth in the number of communities in Beijing.

Recent Sects

  • Way of the Former Heaven
  • Falun Gong
  • I-Kun Tao (“Way of Unity”)
  • T’ung-shan She (“Society of Goodness”)
  • “Sacred Religion of Celestial Virtue,” “Tao-yuan,” “Sanctuary of the Tao,” “Tz’u-hui Tang,” and “Compassion Society” are all terms used to describe the Tien-te Sheng-chiao (“Sacred Religion of Celestial Virtue”).

The People’s Republic of China (PRC)

As a result of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the country maintained a negative stance toward religion, which was viewed as representative of feudalism and foreign colonization for most of its early history. Houses of worship, such as temples, mosques, and churches, were turned into non-religious structures that could be used for other purposes. Religion or practice was often discouraged in the early years of the People’s Republic of China because it was seen by the government as primitive and superstitious, and because various Communist leaders (ranging from Vladimir Lenin to Mao Zedong) had been critical of religious organizations.

  • With the conclusion of the Cultural Revolution in China in the late 1970s, this attitude began to soften significantly.
  • In China, there has been a tremendous effort to reconstruct Buddhist and Taoist temples that were damaged during the Cultural Revolution, which began in the mid-1990s.
  • Many high-level positions and vocations require that you be a member of a political party.
  • Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholic Christianity, and Protestant Christianity are the five religions that are recognized by the state.

There are several hundred thousand thousand people who adhere to folk traditions and non-religious spiritual beliefs (such as ancestor veneration and feng shui), and there are hundreds of thousands of people who have informal ties to local temples and unofficial house churches, according to estimates.

In 2004, the following information is provided:

  • As a result of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the country maintained a hostile stance toward religion, which was viewed as symbolic of feudalism and foreign colonialism throughout most of its early history. Religious structures such as temples, mosques, and churches were deconsecrated and turned into non-religious structures that could be used for other purposes. Religion or practice was often discouraged in the early years of the People’s Republic of China because it was seen by the government as primitive and superstitious, and because certain Communist leaders (ranging from Vladimir Lenin to Mao Zedong) had expressed opposition to religious organizations. Thousands of religious structures were plundered and burned during the Cultural Revolution, which was characterized by the government as “feudalistic.” Because of the Cultural Revolution’s demise, this attitude began to soften dramatically in the late 1970s and early 1980s. A number of limits are imposed on religious freedom under the PRC’s 1978 Constitution, which protects “religious freedom.” During the Cultural Revolution, Buddhist and Taoist temples were destroyed in large numbers, and since the mid-1990s, there has been a tremendous effort to reconstruct them. As stated by the Communist Party, religious belief and membership are incompatible with communist philosophy. Many high-level positions and occupations need membership in a political party. It is difficult to compile accurate statistics on religious membership as a result of this and other forms of state opposition. Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholic Christianity, and Protestant Christianity are the five religions that are recognized by the government. According to the majority of respondents, they do not belong to any organized religious group. There are several hundred thousand thousand individuals who adhere to folk traditions and non-religious spiritual ideas (such as ancestor worship and feng shui), and there are hundreds of thousands of people who have informal affiliations to local temples or unofficial home churches. In its yearly report on International Religious Freedom, the United States Department of State provides what is arguably the most trustworthy set of statistics on organized faiths on the planet. This is what it says about itself in 2004, “

As a result of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the country maintained a negative stance toward religion, which was perceived as representative of feudalism and foreign colonization throughout most of its early history. Houses of worship, such as temples, mosques, and churches, were demolished and rebuilt as non-religious structures for public use. In the early years of the People’s Republic of China, religious belief or practice was often discouraged because it was regarded by the government as backwards and superstitious, and because some Communist leaders (ranging from Vladimir Lenin to Mao Zedong) had been critical of religious institutions.

  • With the conclusion of the Cultural Revolution in the late 1970s, this attitude began to soften significantly.
  • In China, there has been a tremendous effort to reconstruct Buddhist and Taoist temples that were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, which began in the mid-1990s and is still ongoing.
  • Many high-level positions and vocations necessitate the possession of a political party membership.
  • Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholic Christianity, and Protestant Christianity are the religions recognized by the state.
  • There are several hundred thousand thousand individuals who adhere to folk traditions and non-religious spiritual ideas (such as ancestor worship and feng shui), and there are hundreds of thousands of people who have informal affiliations to local temples and unofficial home churches.

In its yearly report on International Religious Freedom, the United States Department of State provides what is arguably the most accurate set of statistics on organized faiths. It states the following in 2004:


The most serious assault on religious freedom in China since the Cultural Revolution is taking place, yet the majority of the population is completely unaware of it. Yes, the predicament of the Uighurs, who are mostly Muslim, has gotten more attention in the last year than it did before. It is estimated that a million, maybe three million, people have been imprisoned in prison camps, where they are subjected to systematic torture, rape, slave labor, and forced sterilisation. Similarly, the ongoing persecution of Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual discipline rooted in the Buddhist tradition, has elicited widespread concern throughout the world.

Because, while the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rule has always repressed religion in general, Christianity has always been the party’s most prominent and targeted target.

However, it is also founded in the CCP’s anxiety that Christianity constitutes a “foreign” danger to its way of life, although one with which the CCP has not yet come to terms.

Deng Xiaoping’s regime realized in the 1980s that the Church could not be eliminated and instead sought to control it by re-establishing state-approved church institutions for Catholics and Protestants that had been closed during the Cultural Revolution, while continuing to persecute underground congregations during this period of economic liberalization.

  1. Gatherings of unregistered churches were tolerated by some local officials as long as they did not explicitly confront the Communist Party of China (CCP).
  2. However, China is currently in its fourth period, which is characterized by intense repression, propaganda, and central control.
  3. Eventually, new laws were introduced in 2018, and now, even churches that are part of state-controlled institutions must comply with the new rules.
  4. In order to demonstrate their allegiance to the Communist Party of China, every church is now required to display photographs of Xi Jinping and party propaganda banners alongside, or even in place of, religious symbols.
  5. Meanwhile, Christians on low incomes have been urged by officials to abandon their religious beliefs, with warnings that their state assistance may be withheld if they do not comply.
  6. For example, the Golden Lampstand Church was demolished, Zion Church was forced to close, and the Home of Christ Church in Shantou, Guangdong province, was shut down after the authorities labeled it a “illegal religious organization” by the government.
  7. On February 5, 2019, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) announced its plan to publish a new translation of the Bible, which would bring it more closely in line with the party’s “thought” by reinterpreting important sections.

On the other hand, it is alleged that groups of residents who identify as “Pro-Mao” marched through the streets in the following weeks, chanting anti-Christian sentiments.

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However, the Communist Party of China (CCP) views Christianity as an external danger — as a “foreign” force focused on destroying the country’s way of life in many ways.

It is effectively illegal for Chinese religious devotees to participate in events organized by non-Chinese citizens in China, and proselytisation — or even religious instruction and training — is now fully prohibited.

Take, for example, the story of pastor Roy Chan, whose Good Neighbour North District Church was seized by authorities last year in reprisal for Chan’s choice to assist young pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong.

HSBC, under pressure from the government, has frozen the assets of the church, its pastor and his family, and he has been assaulted – not just by police, but also by the bank itself.

Earlier this year, when Cardinal Charles Botry, President of the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences, attempted to organize a prayer campaign for Hong Kong, the diocese openly blocked the initiative.

Whether it likes it or not, the diocese is definitely feeling — or at the very least expecting — the pressure from the CCP on its shoulders.

The accord, which was first discussed in 2018, is still under wraps, but it effectively permits the Chinese Communist Party to designate bishops, who will then be subject to ultimate approval by the Pope.

However, the result has been the polar opposite of what was intended.

Instead, not only was this not accomplished, but several courageous underground Catholic bishops who had remained loyal to Rome for decades, who had been in and out of prison or risked arrest on numerous occasions, were ordered by Rome to step aside in order to make way for bishops chosen by the Chinese government.

  1. He was eventually released, but he continues to be harassed.
  2. Eventually, the 61-year-old clergyman was forced to sleep in the doorway of his church office, and it was only after an international uproar that he was allowed to return to his residence, although with the utilities turned off.
  3. Since then, there have been numerous more who have followed in his footsteps.
  4. Pastor Wang Yi of Chengdu’s Early Rain Church forewarned the public more than two years ago that the dictatorship was waging a “internal war on the spirit.” He was sentenced to nine years in jail for “inciting to overthrow state authority” a year later, after pleading guilty.

Technological surveillance of religion in China

Thank you, Chairwoman Gayle Manchin, Vice Chair Tony Perkins, and Vice Chair Anurima Bhargava, for the chance to speak this morning. I appreciate your time and consideration. The growth of digital authoritarianism, as well as the related loss in human rights, particularly the freedom to freely practice religion, are two of the most important challenges facing the globe at the moment. Nowhere is the importance of these issues more evident than in contemporary China, where the Xi regime and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have relied on digital technologies to carry out human rights abuses and curtail religious freedom on a scale and with an efficiency that has never before been seen.

Digital Authoritarianismthe CCP

It is necessary to define what I mean by digital authoritarianism in general before discussing the Xi dictatorship and its religious practices in particular. Authoritarian leaders are consumed with ensuring their own survival, just as they are with any other political system. However, maintaining power is not simple: governments must actively watch not just elite and popular opinion, but also prospective dissidents and opposition organizations in order to remain in power. The use of digital technology can provide a fresh approach to addressing this problem.

  1. Regimes with appropriate technical skill can now monitor both aggregate public opinion and specific people with greater accuracy and detail than they were able to do in the previous years.
  2. No other totalitarian regime has done a better job of using digital technology than contemporary China.
  3. As a part of its efforts to spur economic growth, they have actively developed and nurtured a domestic technology industry on the one hand.
  4. Almost four decades later, the method has proven to be an unqualified success.
  5. At the same time, domestic projects such as the Great Firewall and Sharp Eyes have provided the CCP with censorship and surveillance capabilities that are substantially superior to what they had previously.

The consequences for religious groups targeted by the CCP have been as catastrophic as they have been tragic.

Digital Authoritarianism and the CCP’s Repression of Religion

Document 19 was issued by the CCP Central Committee in the early 1980s, following the religious purges of the Mao period, and it is widely seen as the first step toward liberalizing religious practice in China. But the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) continued to regard many religious communities as a danger, particularly those that it believes have relationships with co-religionists in other countries. In the intervening years, the party has often responded to that challenge by employing a two-pronged policy of Sinicization and repression in tandem.

  1. As has been the case with authoritarian regimes across the world, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has long been able to control public expressions of religious groups, practices, identities, and beliefs, particularly in metropolitan areas.
  2. That has altered as a result of digital technology.
  3. Take into consideration the following: Organizations associated with religion.
  4. The authorities may monitor all activities and persons within a religious school or place of worship rather than just shutting down the facility, and they can discipline unwanted behavior or individuals with more detail.
  5. However, digital technology has also made it possible to conduct a more thorough investigation of underground religious groups and networks.

Individuals in the same religious network who meet covertly, potentially even in real time, can be identified in Xinjiang using smartphone location data, vehicle location data, checkpoint logs, facial recognition technology, and video feeds from buses, streets, and drones, to name a few possibilities.

  1. Many religions have typical vestments and adornments that serve to distinguish them as adherents of their own faiths, ranging from hats to jewelry.
  2. Chinese businesses such as CloudWalk have created software that can determine if a particular frame of video contains a picture of a religious minority by feeding machine learning algorithms vast quantities of photographs of religious minorities.
  3. Because of legal codes such as Xinjiang’s latest legislation on extremism, which restricts attire and symbols connected with “extreme” religious ideas or movements, surveillance software that scans for religious identification poses a particularly serious threat to citizens.
  4. Historically, religious activities have been difficult to supervise without a large number of labor, which has been particularly challenging in rural places and remote areas.
  5. For example, the Sharp Eyes initiative allows authorized persons within a community to access feeds from public security cameras as well as feeds from smartphones and smart TVs, including those in private dwellings and homes, as well as feeds from public security cameras.
  6. It has been reported that individuals have been imprisoned only for owning recordings of the Quran in Xinjiang.
  7. Monitoring religious ideas, as opposed to monitoring religious identity and practices, has always been more difficult since it necessitates access to an individual’s private writing and speech, which is not always possible.
  8. The smartphone, in particular, has transformed the way in which the state monitors religious beliefs.
  9. Chinese authorities have already employed these tactics to jail individuals for no reason other than texting phrases from the Quran.
  10. Till this day, Tibet and western China have been the sites of the most severe repression efforts.

Chen’s program, which was inspired by the “grid strategy” that was first implemented in Beijing in the run-up to the 2008 Olympics, divided Tibetan cities and towns into cells, each of which was manned by a police unit that had access to video and communications feeds from other cells within the cell.

  • When combined with a major rise in Tibetan police units and an extension of party offices across the area, the monitoring reduced the reported number of immolations and protests within the TAR, but at the expense of the freedom and vitality of the Tibetan Buddhist community.
  • Chen Quanguo was named party secretary of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in 2016.
  • (XUAR).
  • Chen soon constructed a grid system, replicating what he had done in Tibet, as part of a bigger counter-extremism drive known as the “Strike Hard Campaign,” which was launched in April.
  • The installation of video cameras on buses and the installation of Beidou satellite navigation systems on vehicles were all required in order to monitor the movement of Xinjiang’s Muslim population.
  • It was in 2017 that Chen commissioned the Integrated Joint Operations Platform (IJOP) to assist in analyzing and monitoring the information that had been gathered.
  • IJOP, along with other monitoring technologies, has made it possible for state authorities to monitor and implement current anti-terrorism and anti-extremism legislation and regulations.
  • As a result of these and other initiatives, an estimated ten percent of Uighur Muslims have been detained in detention camps in the region.
  • Although religious minorities in Tibet and the XUAR are the most extreme examples, they are not the only groups that the CCP has targeted in those regions.

The legal researcher Eva Pils has observed that “what occurs in Xinjiang and what occurs in house churches are linked. “These kinds of new views have manifested themselves in a variety of tactics against Christians, amounting to an intensification of religious persecution of religious minorities.”

U.S. Policy Response

Because of the maturation of digital monitoring technology, the attraction of digital authoritarianism is only expected to rise in the future. Countering the Chinese Communist Party’s digital repression of religion in Tibet and Xinjiang is important not only to protect the communities that are subjected to human rights abuses in those regions, but also to deter future campaigns both within China and around the world, according to President Barack Obama. Following the passage of the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, the White House joined a letter to the United Nations Human Rights Council calling on the Chinese Communist Party to end detention programs in Xinjiang, and sanctioned Chen Quanguo as well as other government officials and technology executives responsible for mass repression campaigns.

The following policies should also be taken into consideration by the United States: Intimidate Muslim allies by putting pressure on them.

As a matter of fact, they have not only not condemned the measures taken by China, but they have also signed a separate letter in response to the recent UNHCR letter signed by the United States and other democracies, in which Saudi Arabia and a large number of Muslim majority countries defended China’s detention policies.

Independent international monitors are in place.

The world community should exert pressure on the Chinese Communist Party to allow foreign independent monitors into the region to conduct direct investigations into the camps.

Impose export regulations that are specific to the country.

In particular, the Chinese technology sector has yet to demonstrate that it is capable of designing and manufacturing the photolithography equipment that are used to build cutting-edge semiconductor chips.

Establishing international norms is essential.

Alternative norms and models for the responsible use of artificial intelligence and new technologies must also be developed, articulated, and adhered to by the United States and its democratic partners.

The Olympic Games in Beijing will take place in 2022.

The United States and other democratic countries should consider constricting their participation in the upcoming 2022 Beijing Olympics if the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) continues to operate mass detention camps and commit other human rights violations.

When the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) conducts technical monitoring of religion, as well as digital authoritarianism more broadly, the United States can and must respond.

We owe it to the victims of religious persecution in those countries to guarantee that their experiences do not become a normalized form of social and political control rather than an exception to the rule.

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