01/04/2016, 00.00
CHINA

CPC tightens crackdown on "superstitions", but also targets religions

The Communist Party launches new internal rules: expulsion and prison for officials who believe in "feudal superstitions." Xi Jinping warns members not to ask questions “that should not be asked”. Analysts fear a new wave of repressions against the five official religions.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - The Chinese Communist Party has launched new and more stringent rules to punish members who believe "feudal superstitions." For the first time, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection has categorized specific types of infringement in new rules which came into force on Jan. 1, 2016, covering the 88 million Party members.

The "feudal superstitions" are in fact for some tenets of Taoism and Buddhism. The practice of feng shui - the art of geomancy that aims to harmonize the universe - and the prediction of the future are specifically targted. The latter also includes the traditions of Tibetan Buddhism related to the rebirth of the Lama. According to Xinhua, the official Chinese agency, "a large number of high-level Communist officials have been accused in recent years of taking part in these practices."

In the latest edition of the internal rules, dated 2003, "feudal superstitions" were categorized in "activities that disrupt Party productivity". The new category has instead been created specifically: the penalty for those who "organize" these activities is expulsion and later putting impeached; those who "participate" is first warned and then expelled. In recent days, the Commission indicted and arrested a senior executive of the province of Ningxia, Bai Xueshan, accused of having put "too much faith" in their own feng shui.

Central Commission for Discipline Inspection has also published a new book with the "information which collected previously undisclosed remarks made by Xi since the party’s 18th congress in November 2012. Among these a passage stands out in which the president - also Secretary General of the Party and army chief - warns the Communist officials "not to discuss central policies in public " and "not to ask questions that should not be asked." All just a few days ahead of the next general meeting of the Commission, which is scheduled from 12 to 14  January 2016.

According to several experts, this series of restrictions demonstrates the central government’s aim to increasingly target the five traditional religions of the country. The Party recognizes Catholicism, Protestant Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Taoism but only if they fall within government structures. In recent years, however, the freedom of the faithful has increasingly shrunk: this latest appeal and new punishments against "feudal superstition" is a further step in this direction.

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