Explained: China's war on religion

Delhi Feb 07, 2020, 01.46 PM(IST) Written By: WION

File photo: China's President Xi Jinping Photograph:( AFP )

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The regulations mean that all religions and related organisations should support what is called the 'sinicisation' of religions.

Under Mao Zedong, China once wanted to eradicate religion.

Under Xi Jinping's rule, it wants to rule over all religions. China has now issued a new set of rules, declaring that the communist party is above all religions.

In the summer of 2019, the true Jesus Church in the same province was razed to the ground. And in December, it came to light that China wants to rewrite the Quran and the Bible in order to reflect socialist values.

Christian rights activists have called this the worst crackdown on religion since the cultural revolution when under the leadership of Mao Zedong, China had vowed to eradicate religion.

Practising your religion in China is a tricky affair, President Xi Jinping maintains a tight grip on the country. And his ruling communist party of China is the supreme power.

But now, the party also has supremacy over all religions in China. And there are rules which govern this, running into six chapters and 41 articles. The rules were released in December 2019 by the National Religious Affairs Administration of China, and came into effect this month.

"The regulations include content on the organisation, functions, supervision and management of religious groups. They stipulate that religious affairs departments of people’s governments are the administrative bodies of religious groups, and should perform their functions such as guiding and supervising the groups’ operation," said the Chinese state media.

As anticipated, the unholy diktat has met with criticism. The regulations mean that all religions and related organisations should support what is called the 'sinicisation' of religions.

What is sinicisation?

The process by which the non-Chinese societies come under the influence of Chinese culture. This means all five religions that are practised in China are secondary to the Communist Party.

And those practising Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism and Protestantism must now look up to the party for leadership. Not just that, they should also promote the party's policies.

But these rules are in a way only a rubber stamp, a confirmation of what was known on the ground all along.