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China cracks down further on religious groups

Latest follows round-up of church leaders in Sichuan

Clouds of debris billow during the demolition of the mega-church Golden Lampstand Church in Linfen in northern China's Shanxi province. (AP photo)

By Liam Gibson, Taiwan News, Staff Writer

2021/12/15 17:58

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — China’s leadership is pushing forward with amending CCP doctrine on religious policy as it tightens control on religious groups of all sorts throughout the country.

A recent report by China Christian Daily covered a two-day conference held in Beijing earlier this month, with CCP cadres insisting on “sinicising religion in China” and preparing a range of new ideological concepts aimed at doing so. Emphasis was also reportedly placed on guiding religion to “adapt to the socialist society.”

The new push comes after authorities arrested Christians from the Early Rain Qingcaodi Church in the Sichuanese city of Deyang last month, according to ChinaAid. Among those rounded up on “fraud” charges were church pastors, community leaders, and volunteers.

The church is a faction of the Western China Reformed Presbytery group and has been under pressure from the government for years. The trouble began after a former elder in the church signed a joint statement in 2018 calling for freedom for Christian churches throughout the country.

The statement eventually garnered signatures from over 400 Chinese pastors. Many were later tracked down and slapped with criminal charges or jailed, per Licas.

In March 2021, provincial authorities in Sichuan put the Early Rain Qingcaodi Church on their blacklist of illegal organizations. Now that their leadership has been taken in, the church has been forced to go underground.

Taiwan continues to act as a sanctuary for religious groups in Asia. Speaking at the International Religious Freedom (IRF) Summit this year, ChinaAid President Bob Fu (傅希秋) said he hopes Taiwan can take on the role of a "Noah's Ark" to accommodate a growing number of asylum seekers in the region.

At the same meeting, Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), Taiwan's representative to the U.S., discussed the country's efforts to uphold religious freedom over the decades. Responding to Fu, she said that Taiwan is working hard to build its “ark” but needs support from the wider world as it faces increasing military threats from China.


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