China introduces new regulations restricting religious practice

New administrative measures on religious staff, released by China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs in February 2021, will come into effect on 1 May amid concerns from some religious leaders about their restrictive nature.

One human rights lawyer described the measures as “one more weapon in (the Chinese authorities’) arsenal to limit or further persecute the religious communities.”

The new regulations include specific requirements on the qualifications of religious staff, detailed in the regulations’ Chapter III.

Article 15 states that Tibetan Buddhism’s succession of living Buddhas should be regulated in accordance with the Regulations on Religious Affairs and the Tibetan Buddhism Reincarnation Management Measures, which require government approval.

Article 16 states that Catholic bishops must be approved and ordained by the state-sanctioned Chinese Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

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