22 March 2018
AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook
Geographic areas

  • > Africa
  • > Central Asia
  • > Europe
  • > Middle East
  • > Nord America
  • > North Asia
  • > South Asia
  • > South East Asia
  • > South West Asia
  • > Sud America
  • > East Asia

  • » 09/27/2016, 16.30


    Priests and faithful in China critical of new regulations on religious activities

    Bernardo Cervellera

    On October 7, the Regulations will be implemented. Criticism of contradiction between the emphasis on Constitution, which claims religious freedom in China and the Regulations which place numerous limitations on its expression. The State Council’s intervention on religions is "illegal”.  Requests for a law that would recognize the right also to the domestic churches (underground) and all religions, not only the 5 recognized by the Beijing government.

    Rome (AsiaNews) - The new regulations on religious activities that will be launched on 7 October is a contradiction in itself: while exalting the religious freedom enjoyed by every Chinese citizen, guaranteed in theory by the constitution,  in fact they are a method "to restrict the religious freedom of the people”.

    Earlier this month, the State Council issued draft regulations aimed at controlling every aspect of the life of the religious communities, groups, personnel, places of worship, buildings and statues.  They also warned against "terrorist" and "separatist" actions (Muslims in Xinjiang and Tibetan Buddhists) while demanding that there be no "ties with foreign countries", but full independence.

    The government has “consulted" the population and to date almost all of the opinions and the comments it has received are negative. Nevertheless, as a Party member commented to AsiaNews, the proof will "really lie in the final text", which will broke no correction.

    Fr. Chen (a priest of the north-east China), said the Regulations are reminiscent of “a Chinese proverb which goes: To call a horse a deer. In the reign of the second emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC), the prime minister Zhao Gao, obsessed with ambition, thought of a way to prove his power over his ministers. So he called a horse a deer, and no minister dared to say otherwise or discuss it. On the contrary, what he said was repeated by many”.

    Similarly, although since 2005 - when the first regulations were implemented at the national level – criticism has continued to rain down about the limits posed to religious freedom, the State continues to claim that they are a means to support this freedom. "The State Constitution - notes Fr. Chen - states that all citizens enjoy the right to religious freedom, the Regulations should not appear as a way to restrict the religious freedom of the people".

    In fact, says another priest from central China, "the Regulations on religious activities are a government control on religions. They way in which these regulations have been revised, shows that they are there to control religions. It is just an old wine in new wineskins (a change of form but not of substance), a simple cliché”.

    This gap between the Constitution and regulations appears in several other criticisms. Vincent, a Guangzhou layman, points out that "China is a country where state and religion are separated; because religious freedom and religious beliefs are a personal matter. Regulation of the activities of religious groups should be based on the Constitution and the Criminal Code and Law on religious laws; and it should not be imposed on these groups, especially priests and religious personnel to enter those organizations not linked to religion or incompatible with the faith [the Patriotic Associations - ed]”.

    Some question the authority of the State Council in religious matters. Interviewed by RFA, the Protestant Christian lawyer Li Guisheng, says: "The government, the State Council in theory would not have the power to restrict the constitutional rights of citizens". It would be good not to always use only regulations, but draft a law on religious freedom. But "the State Council - says Li - is part of the executive and not be able to make laws. Only the National People's Congress can do so when it is in plenary session”.

    For Vincent, "the State Council, cannot restrict religious activities in such an illegal fashion".

    The need for a true and proper law is perceived by many, such as the academic Liu Peng.

    Such a law would undermine the difference between "normal religious activities" and "illegal" (those of the underground community, not recognized by the government), protecting the rights and interests of domestic churches [that are deemed "illegal" by the current regulations].

     In addition, the law "should recognize the existence and the interests of those minorities outside of the five major religions. In China, in fact, the government only recognizes Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Protestant Christianity and Catholic Christianity. Other religions (Orthodox Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, etc ...) live in a legal limbo, even though they are real religious groups. "In no other nation in the world - concludes Vincent - can people only believe in religions that the government decides!".

    e-mail this to a friend Printable version

    See also

    23/09/2016 09:51:00 CHINA-VATICAN
    Beijing issues new, harsh draft regulations on religious activities

    Fines of up to 200 thousand yuan (27 thousand euro) for "illegal religious activities" by Catholic or other members of underground communities. "Illegal activities" include "dependence from abroad" (such as the relationship with the Vatican). The regulations preach non-discrimination, but party members are forbidden to practice their religion, even in private. Strict control of buildings, statues, crosses. Clampdown on the internet. It could be the end of the underground community.

    07/09/2016 11:40:00 CHINA - VATICAN
    Bishop Zhu Weifang of Wenzhou, the city of demolished crosses, has died

    The coadjutor bishop, Msgr. Peter Shao Zhumin, has been kidnapped by the police to prevent him attending the funeral, as he is not recognized by the government. Three priests also kidnapped. The state authorities have banned the underground faithful from participating in the funeral. The late bishop had spent 16 years at hard labor and in jail.


    02/03/2018 13:51:00 CHINA-VATICAN
    Xinjiang, crosses, domes, statues destroyed: the new 'Sinicized' Cultural Revolution

    Crosses removed from the domes and the tympanum of Yining Church as well as external decorations and crosses, and the Way of the Cross within the church. The same happened at the churches of Manas and Hutubi. The Cross represents "a foreign religious infiltration ". Prayer services forbidden even in private houses under the threat of arrests and re-education. Children and young people forbidden to enter churches. Religious revival frightens the Party.

    11/09/2017 13:47:00 CHINA-VATICAN
    New regulations on religions: Annihilate underground communities, suffocate official communities

    Few articles added to the draft. Religions viewed not as the "opium" but the "plague" of peoples. Spasmodic control at all levels of political power of official religions. Massive fines for members of unofficial communities. Seizure and closure of "illegal sites" by the State. Expulsions from schools for "proselytism" activities.

    13/02/2018 10:24:00 CHINA-VATICAN
    Card. Zen: I still don’t understand why they are in dialogue with China

    Reconciliation between official and underground communities may be difficult, but it is possible. The Chinese state aims to build a national and schismatic Church. The Vatican’s veneration of Ostpolitik risks helping Beijing "enslave the Church". The manipulation of the words of Benedict XVI and obedience to Pope Francis.

    Editor's choices

    Putin's victory seen from West and East

    Xi Jinping sent a highly congratulatory message. Japan and Germany issued polite words. The Observatory for Security and Cooperation in Europe criticised restrictions on fundamental freedoms. Tensions with Britain remain over the ex-spy poisoning. For Chinese scholar, as the West continues to attack Russia and China, the two will move closer.

    NPC: silence on constitutional amendment, scripted media coverage

    John Ai

    Spokespeople provide scripted answers to scripted questions. Various “foreign” media are funded by China as propaganda tools. The end of term limits for Xi Jinping is the will of the people even though the people did not know about it.


    AsiaNews monthly magazine (in Italian) is free.


    News feed

    Canale RSSRSS channel 


    IRAN 2016 Banner

    2003 © All rights reserved - AsiaNews C.F. e P.Iva: 00889190153 - GLACOM®