05/15/2018, 14.19
CHINA
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Beijing cracks down on religious activities of foreigners

The current rules prohibit foreigners preaching, teaching and meeting without authorization. Chinese and foreigners cannot participate in joint expressions of faith. With the new rules foreign participants will have to provide the government with personal details such as passport number and place of residence in China. Xi Jinping: guard against "the hostile forces of the West".

Beijing (AsiaNews / RFA) - Beijing plans yet another crackdown on religious life in the country: this time, the "hostile forces" that hide behind the religious activities of foreign citizens are in the sights of the religious authorities.

Last week, the State Administration for Religious Affairs launched consultations for the revision of the rules concerning foreigners practicing their religion in China. The regulations in force since 1991 prohibit Chinese citizens from participating in foreign religious groupings; prohibit foreign organizations that have not been previously authorized from religious meetings.

In addition, foreign residents cannot instruct Chinese religious staff or preach and teach, unless invited by state approved institutions. The current rules state that "[foreigners] must not produce or sell religious books, religious audio-visual products, religious electronic publications, and other religious materials; they must not distribute propaganda documents or conduct other forms of missionary activity ".

At present, the government intends to insert a new set of administrative guidelines to "protect the public interest". Announced on May 7 on the official website, the new rules affect the "collective religious activities" of more than 50 people, organized and frequented by foreigners. In particular, they concern the religious activities that take place that require an annually renewable permit. Before participating, foreigners must provide the government with personal details such as passport number and place of residence in China.

Beijing continues to impose new and severe restrictions on religious activities in the country. Since last February, the new religious regulations have been in force whose objective is to eliminate the underground communities and to have total control over the official communities.

According to Rfa, there are about 68 million Protestants in China, of whom 23 million belong to the official communities. Catholics number around 12 million, 5 million of which belong to the official community. President Xi Jinping has repeatedly called Christianity a dangerous foreign importation and has warned against "the infiltration of hostile forces from the West".

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