China to regulate online religious activity amid crackdown


China has implemented rules to monitor the level of religious activity on internet amid an ongoing crackdown on churches, mosques and other institutions by the officially atheist Communist Party. Anyone that desires to hold religious services on the internet must first make an application by name and be deemed as morally fit and politically reliable, according to draft regulations posted online the State Administration for Religious Affairs on Monday.

Organisations and schools that receive licences will be allowed to operate only on their internal networks . However, users will be required to be registered and are barred from seeking converts or distributing texts or other religious materials.

They have also imposed tight limits on what can be said or posted, including a ban on criticism of the party’s leadership and official religious policies, promoting religious participation by minors, and “using religion to … overthrow the socialist system.”

Various types of live-streaming in relation to religious activities such as; praying, preaching or burning incense, is also forbidden. This campaign is part of a drive to “water down” religion by demanding loyalty to the Communist Party and leader Xi Jinping. It is the most severe crackdown since religious freedom was written into the Chinese constitution in 1982.

All the religions that are officially recognized in China appear to have been affected by the crackdown. According to the Chinese law, religious believers are only permitted to worship in congregations registered with the authorities and bans most religious observance in private homes.

Approximately one million Uighurs and other members of Muslim minority groups have been arbitrarily detained in indoctrination camps where they are forced to denounce Islam and profess loyalty to the party. The government, however, denies setting up any camps but says it is taking necessary measures to eliminate extremism.

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