By ZHANG CHUNHUA
April 11, 2023
Pastor Xu Xiaohong at the March 20 meeting. From Weibo.
On March 20, 2023, the Three-Self Church organized a meeting of its local and youth associations to implement the directives of the recent Two Sessions in all government-controlled Protestant churches throughout the country.
Pastor Xu Xiaohong, who is not only the chairman of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement but also a member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPC), and Reverend Shan Weixiang, deputy chairman of the Three-Self Church, “conveyed the spirit of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important speech, the spirit of the first session of the 14th National People’s Congress and the first session of the 14th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference,” according to the official press release.
The Two Sessions, according to Xu, “demonstrated the great advantages of the socialist system with Chinese characteristics. The unanimous election of General Secretary Xi Jinping as President of the country and Chairman of the Central Military Commission fully demonstrates the people’s sincere support and love for General Secretary Xi Jinping, fully demonstrates the strong cohesion and centripetal force of our Party and the country, and fully inspires the great ambitions of unity and struggle.”
Pastor Xu reported that religion was indeed discussed, if at closed door, in the Two Sessions, which requested more “Sinicization” and a special surveillance of churches catering to ethnic minorities to detect and repress any support of “separatism.” The China Religious Circles Peace Committee should also be mobilized to work together with Chinese diplomacy and promote the official narrative about religious liberty in China throughout the world.
Xu recommended to “continue to take General Secretary Xi Jinping’s speech at the National Religious Work Conference [of 2021] as the basic policy, complete, accurate and comprehensive.” In fact, that speech called for more surveillance of religion, including on the web, and more teaching and application of Marx’s ideas about religious issues.
Reverend Shan’s speech. From Weibo.
Reverend Shan also ordered Three-Self churches to strengthen their outreach to Chinese overseas, spreading a positive view of China as a country of religious liberty among them.
Churches were asked to preach on Xi Jinping’s “victory” against COVID, and the “superiority of the Party’s leadership and the socialist system” over the so-called democratic systems of the West. A further effort should also be implemented to “remove the influence of the Western colonial theology,” the conclusions of the meeting said, as this is a necessary pre-condition to “always unite believers around the Party and the government, and continue to promote the Sinicization of Christianity in depth and in detail.”