The United States published its annual report on religious freedom in which it denounced that Last year the Chinese regime increased the persecution and repression against religious activity in the country. The US State Department indicated that Beijing has expanded its efforts to bring all theological activity under the control of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Under the Constitution, the Chinese population “enjoys freedom of religious belief,” but limits the protection of the practice to “normal religious activities.” However, the PCC does not clarify what it means by “normal”.
Five official religions are recognized in the country: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Protestantism and Catholicism. Only religious groups belonging to one of these five “patriotic religious associations” are officially permitted to hold religious services.
The legislation also requires clerics to swear allegiance to the Communist Party and socialism.
The report on China is based on reports from human rights groups such as Freedom House and religious organizations such as the Church of Almighty God (CAG), as well as public information from the Chinese government.
The United States recalled the words of President Xi Jinping during the 20th Congress of the Communist Party last year, in which He stated that “religions in China must have a Chinese orientation.” This, according to the State Department, is a clear indication of the “campaign against religious groups that it described as ‘cults,’ including the CAG and Falun Gong.”
According to the report, throughout the past year the regime continued to exercise control over religious groups and restrict the activities and personal freedom of religious adherents “perceived as a threat to the interests of the state or the CCP.” .
NGOs and various media reported deaths in custody and that the regime “tortured, physically abused, detained, disappeared, detained, sentenced to prison, subjected to forced indoctrination into CCP ideology, and harassed adherents of registered and unregistered religious groups for activities related to their religious beliefs and practices.” .
The State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report, published annually since 1999 and covering nearly 200 countries, estimates that the Communist Party imprisoned as many as 10,000 or more people in 2022 in a widening crackdown on religious beliefs in the Asian giant.
“Authorities continued to arrest and detain leaders and members of religious groupsoften associated with groups not registered with state-sanctioned religious associations (…) Authorities reportedly used vague or flimsy charges, sometimes related to religious activity, to convict and sentence leaders and members from religious groups to years in prison,” the report explains.
The most common charges were “organizing or using a cult to undermine law enforcement”, endangering state security and inciting “separatism”. The latter is usually attributed to ethnic minorities for participating in religious, cultural or pro-independence activities.
According to Minghuia Falun Gong-affiliated publication, authorities sentenced hundreds of Falun Gong practitioners from 28 provinces and regions for their faith to sentences of between six months and 15 years in prison.
The US authorities warned that the regime redoubled efforts over the past year to continue its multi-year campaign of “sinicization”, “to align all religious doctrine and practices with the doctrine of the Communist Party.” These include “requiring clergy of all denominations to attend political indoctrination sessions and suggesting sermon content that emphasizes loyalty to the CCP and the state.”
The crackdown on religious activities also includes heavy censorship. In that regard, the government blocked religious websites and censored religious content from the WeChat messaging service. In addition, regime authorities censored messages that referenced Jesus or the Bible, removed articles posted by Christian-related platforms, and removed accounts or instructed Internet service providers and individual users to remove accounts whose names contained the words “Gospel” or “Christ.”
The regime continued to restrict the printing and distribution of the Bible, the Qur’an and other religious publications.and penalized companies that copied and published religious material.
As a result of this continuous campaign of repression and persecution, on November 30 the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, redesignated China as a “Country of Special Concern” (CPC) under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, for committing or condoning serious violations of religious freedom. Designation that Beijing has been receiving since 1999.
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