China heightens religious repression – China’s latest political and current affairs news

Politics

A summary of the top news in Chinese politics and current affairs for September 12, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un applauds during a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of the country's founding father, Kim Il Sung, in Pyongyang April 15, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Battles over religion are heating up lately in China, an officially atheist country as declared by the Communist authorities, as the Chinese government continues to tighten its grip on religious practices across the nation. In fear of foreign forces that supposedly intend to divide the country through religion, China has waged a sweeping crackdown targeting various religious minorities in the country, including Christians and Muslims.

What’s new on the religious front?

  • Huang Shike 黄世科, 49, a member of the Hui Muslim minority group, was arrested in 2016 in Xinjiang Province and today was sentenced to two years in a Chinese prison for teaching Islam in an online discussion group of more than 100 people.
  • House churches, where Chinese Christian worshippers congregate and pray without approval by the state, are secretly operating at risk of being reported and torn down. SCMP reports that the forced closure of these underground churches, known as “family churches” due to the close bond among members, “have raised concerns that more of the independent gatherings will be subject to repression, especially in the run-up to a key Communist Party congress in October.”
  • To further consolidate its control over religion, China’s cabinet last week passed an updated set of regulations, which was described as an urgent need by Wang Zuoan 王作安, the head of China’s religious affairs bureau, because “the foreign use of religion to infiltrate [China] intensifies by the day and religious extremist thought is spreading in some areas.”
  • In Xinjiang, an array of re-education camps were erected by the authorities, where thousands of Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities are being held to receive “socialism training.”
  • For more on China’s resistance to organized religion, listen to this Sinica Podcast episode on Islamophobia in China, along with this article that explains where the fear comes from.

—Jiayun Feng