China increasing measures to repress religions

The communist government in China is increasing measures to repress religions, including its mass detention of people.

These and other measures to repress religions are part of China’s accelerated sinicization that clamps down on freedom of religion, according to the US State Department’s 2019 International Religious Freedom Report.

The annual report released last week, says the Chinese government, in line with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has “significantly intensified its campaign of mass detention” of members of minority groups.

The government campaign of religious sinicization aims to bring all religious doctrine and practice in line with CCP doctrine. The government adopted a formal five-year plan in January, the report says.

During the past three years the government has detained over a million Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Hui and other Muslim groups, including Uyghur Christians. They are interned in specially built or converted camps in Xinjiang.

The report says the detainees are subjected to “forced disappearance, political indoctrination, torture, physical and psychological abuse, including forced sterilization and sexual abuse, forced labor and prolonged detention without trial because of their religion and ethnicity.”

Although the Chinese government recognizes only five official religions — Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Protestantism and Catholicism — the faithful can only practice their faith if they join one of the five state-sanctioned “patriotic religious associations.”

The report says Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin, leader of the underground Catholic Church in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, has been detained five times since 2016. He refused to register with the state-sanctioned Church and Patriotic Association. His detention included being sent for “re-education.”

Authorities in Shandong province arrested over 6,000 members of the Church of Almighty God during a government-wide crackdown last year. The government considers the group an “evil cult.”

High-level political prisoners are forced to undergo extralegal detention. They included the Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Shanghai a writer, Uyghur scholars, activists Wang Bingzhang, activists, a Pastor and Falun Gong practitioners.

The report says authorities use technologies to monitor and intimidate political dissidents and religious, including facial recognition and “gait recognition” video surveillance, which can identify individuals in crowds quickly.

Other government measures include denying activists and religious leaders permission to travel or keeping them under unofficial house arrest.

Religious congregations and assemblies are targeted as they pose a threat to “party leadership” or infringe upon the “interests of the state,” the report says. Surveillance cameras have been put in houses of worship as a condition of allowing them to continue operating.

The US State Department report follows President Donald Trump’s signing of an executive order that prioritises religious freedom worldwide.

Since 1999, the US has designated China as a country of particular concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 for violating religious freedom.

The State Department wants the US to maintain restrictions on exports of crime control and detection instruments and equipment to China.



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