Chinese Pastor detained for traveling to Christian conference

CHINA

Wang Zuoan: foreign religions are “infiltrating” and threatening China

The head of the Religious Affairs Bureau defends new regulations on religious activities. Religious discussions on the internet and “illegal” religious meetings represent a “danger”.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – China is facing heightened threats from “foreign infiltration” via religion and from the spread of extremism, said Wang Zuoan, head of China’s Religious Affairs Bureau as he defended new rules passed last week.

In an article published today in the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, Wang said that the revision was urgently needed because “the foreign use of religion to infiltrate (China) intensifies by the day and religious extremist thought is spreading in some areas.”

“Issues with religion on the internet are starting to break out . . . and illegal religious gatherings in some places continue despite bans,” he added.

In recent decades, China has seen an impressive religious revival. Despite prohibitions, the obligation to teach atheism, and the ban on Party members on joining religious groups at least 85 per cent of the Chinese population has some religious belief.

China’s constitution guarantees religious freedom for every citizen, but de facto allows only “normal” religious activities for five groups: Taoists, Buddhists, Muslims, Protestants, and Catholics.

The “normal” nature of their activities is guaranteed by complete government control at all levels: national, provincial, county, city, and village.

The new regulations include controls on religious personnel, gathering places, activities, foreign travels, and community economics.

For Wang, “freedom of religious faith is not equal to religious activities taking place without legal restrictions”.