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China Tightens Rules on Religious Freedom
Wednesday, September 13, 2017, 13:00 (IST)
China on Sept. 7 has passed new regulations on religious freedom to strengthen national security, fight extremism and restrict religions seen as internal threats.
The new rules come amid harsh treatment on Muslim and Christian populations, including ban on religious organizations accepting foreign donations.
The official Xinhua news agency used strong and specific language about the need to protect the country's national security against threats from religious groups.
"Religious affairs maintenance should persist in a principle of maintaining legality, curbing illegality, blocking extremism, resisting infiltration and attacking crime," said the agency.
"Any group or individual must not create conflict or contention between different religions, with a single religion or between religious individuals and non-religious individuals," it added.
According to Reuters, President Xi Jinping has stressed the call to tackle foreign infiltration through religion and the need to avoid the reach to "extremist" ideology, at the same time being tolerant of traditional faiths that he sees as a salve to social ills.
China protects freedom of religion, but it keeps a tight restraint on religious activities and permits only officially recognized religious organizations to function.
The regulations will be implemented from Feb. 1, 2018, extend earlier rules to include online communications.
Religious groups must be registered with the state, while unregistered organizations—which were previously not allowed to establish places of worship—are now also banned from establishing schools.