03/02/2012, 00.00
CHINA

New Beijing limits on religious NGOs "complicate an already difficult life"

by Chen Weijun
Islamic and Tibetan NGOs especially affected. Sources tell AsiaNews: "The government is playing at cloak and dagger but it is also threatening to cut off those who do not have bad intentions. China is afraid of political activities hidden under a curtain of social assistance, but this is not a good reason to target us all. "

Beijing (AsiaNews) - The new regulations on donations to religious NGOs operating in China "are complicating life, which is already very difficult. The Chinese government decisions are understandable from their point of view, but they are also short-sighted: if they cut the legs from under the NGOs, they risk discouraging them and loosing them. And then it will be difficult for them to cope with the social situation that would arise as a consequence",  says an AsiaNews source that operates in assistance to the disabled.

According to a new central government policy "operations related to charitable religious institutions should refer to the principles of self-financing, to be free from the influence of external forces." In addition, religious groups "are not allowed to spread their beliefs or undermine national interests" through charitable activities. The document is signed by 6 Government Departments: among them are the State Administration for Religious Affairs and National Commission for the development and reform.

Religious NGOs, moreover, "must not accept grants, donations or funds from outside the country, if they are connected to political or religious organizations. Groups must be under the control, management and administration of government departments that are involved in this work. They will then present their annual work plan to the local departments of Religious Affairs. "

The aim, says the AsiaNews source, "is to stop the flow of money to the Islamic groups and the Tibetans: these groups are religious, but also have a strong political aspect that the government wants to slow down at all costs." But with this choice, the source concludes, "it adds further restrictive controls for people working in these areas. Beijing, to eliminate any possible problem, is playing cloak and dagger wave, but also risks cutting off those who do not want to cause confusion, but only want  to continue their mission in favor of the less affluent. "

This decision, he concludes, "is likely to further undermine an already precarious social situation. The government has not so much intended to limit the religions, but is very afraid of some denominations that also have political affiliations. They saw what happened in the Middle East with The Arab Spring and are very frightened: they want to avoid this happening in China at all costs. "

 

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