Authorities to pay informants who report on 'illegal' Christian activities

A reward system for reporting “crimes” related to religious worship is introduced in Heilongjiang. Anyone snitching by phone, email or letter can get up to US$ 150. Two members of Chengdu’s Early Rain Covenant Church were arrested while police used force during raid.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – Chinese authorities have introduced a new system to monitor Christian communities and crack down on “illegal religious activities”.

A reward system for reporting illegal religious offences was set up in early August in Meilisi Daur, a district in the city of Qiqihar, Heilongjiang province, in northeastern China.

According to Open Doors, China ranks 17th in 2021 in the world for persecuting Christians. The China Christian Daily reports that informants are eligible of up to 1,000 yuan (about US$ 150) for tips.

This system will certainly not improve religious freedom in the country, especially after the authorities created a “big brother” database on religious practice, imposed fines on bishops for celebrating Mass, and destroyed churches, among other things.

The aim of snitching is “to strengthen the control of illegal religious activities in the district" and prevent “any possible COVID-19 cluster of resulting from religious gatherings”.

In addition, the authorities want to suppress “illegal activities” in order to "ensure a harmonious and stable religious landscape”.

In short, everything is allowed if the aim is curbing the free practice of worship, especially by Christians, ostensibly to counter the novel coronavirus or ensure stability, etc.

In the crosshair are also those who hand out religious works outside places of worship, promote donations of “unauthorized” goods or money, or distribute printed material.

Informants can report by telephone, email or written letter and can be anonymous.

Such a system is already in use in other parts of China, like Boshan, a district in Shandong, especially against so-called house churches.

With respect to religious freedom, some recent reports indicate that police raided an independent Protestant church in Sichuan province, during last Sunday’s religious service.

Two adults were arrested and many children were taken away.

Dai Zhichao and He Shan (pictured), respectively meeting host and member of the Early Rain Covenant Church, in Chengdu, were placed under custodial detention for 14 days pending further decisions.

According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), police acted without a warrant and used force, beating up some worshippers. A number of children were held for a few hours at a station, but were later released.