There were reports the government tortured, physically abused, detained, arrested, sentenced to prison, or harassed a number of religious adherents of both registered and unregistered groups for activities related to their religious beliefs and practices. Human rights organizations stated police shot and killed Uighur Muslims during house raids and protests after disagreements arose due to stricter government controls on religious expression and practice. The government increasingly cited concerns over the “three evils” of “separatism, religious extremism, and terrorism” as grounds to enact and enforce repressive restrictions on religious practices of Uighur Muslims.” Throughout the country, religious affairs officials and security organs scrutinized and restricted the religious activities of registered and unregistered religious and spiritual groups, including assembling for religious worship, expressing religious beliefs in public and in private, and publishing religious texts. The government’s repression of religious freedom remained severe in Xinjiang and in Tibetan areas (see Tibet section).
Human rights organizations reported in some instances security forces shot at groups of Uighurs in their homes or during worship. Authorities typically characterized these operations as targeting “separatists” or “terrorists.” According to reports, these actions bred resentment, and at times, deadly protests. Media reported 37 civilians and 50 “terrorists” were killed and another 13 civilians wounded after protestors gathered in front of a police station and government offices in Kashgar Prefecture’s Shache (Yarkand) County on July 28. Police arrested 215 people in connection with the incident, which protestors stated stemmed from the detention of women and girls who had refused to uncover their faces covered by headscarves. According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), on May 20 police killed two Uighurs when firing on protesters in Aksu Prefecture’s Kucha County after they threatened to storm a government building. The protesters had gathered following the detention of 25 Uighur women and girls who had refused government instruction to uncover their faces covered by headscarves. RFA also reported police shot and killed 14 Uighurs during a house raid in Kashgar Prefecture’s Konasheher County on December 15. While the government stated the security forces were attacked by a “terror gang,” residents reported the violence was triggered by the lifting of a woman’s veil by a police officer.
According to RFA, authorities in Xinjiang sentenced to prison 22 Uighurs for alleged illegal religious activities and other infractions in November. State media reported the Uighurs, including Muslim religious leaders accused of preaching illegally, received jail terms ranging from five to 16 years at a public sentencing in the western Xinjiang town of Kashgar.
In July a Nanle County, Henan Province, court sentenced Three-Self Church Pastor Zhang Shaojie, president of Nanle County’s Christian TSPM Committee, to 12 years in prison for “picking quarrels and disturbing public order” and “fraud.” Li Cairen, the prosecution’s sole witness on the fraud charge, reportedly held in extrajudicial detention since December 2013, was unable to testify in person. In November local authorities placed Zhang Shaojie’s daughter, Zhang Linxin, under extrajudicial detention for several days. Zhang Shaojie and more than 20 members of his Nanle County Christian Church had originally been detained by authorities in Henan province in November 2013. Many of the detainees had reportedly traveled to Beijing to petition authorities about a land dispute between the church and the Nanle County government. Advocacy groups reported authorities harassed and detained family members and other members of the church throughout the year.
Alimujiang Yimiti, the Uighur leader of an unregistered Christian church, continued to serve a 15-year sentence for “illegally providing state secrets or intelligence to foreign entities.” An advocacy organization reported he was being kept under harsh conditions and visits with family had been reduced. Yimiti was sentenced in December 2009 by the Kashgar Prefecture Intermediate People’s Court. His appeal was denied in March 2010, and he has not been permitted to meet with his lawyers since 2012.
On July 29, police officers in Guangdong Province arrested Buddhist leader Wu Zeheng after raiding the businesses and homes of members of his Buddhist spiritual group. Almost 50 people, including 20 children, were detained during the raids, and reports indicated Wu and 20 followers remained in detention at the end of the year as authorities gathered evidence to try his case. Wu had previously served 11 years in prison and continued to face harassment since his release in 2010.
Huang Yizi, pastor of Fengwo Church in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, was placed under criminal detention and formally arrested in August for “gathering a crowd to disrupt public order” after he and several congregants protested the demolition of a cross of a nearby church in July. He remained in custody at the end of the year.
In September authorities in Sichuan Province’s Leibo County arrested 36 members of several unregistered village churches on charges of practicing cult worship. The detainees were reported to include children and elderly individuals, many of whom received administrative sentences of at least 10 days.
In August 2013, media reported public security officers from Qiadong District, Hebei Province, detained and took to an unknown location Song Wanjun, an underground Catholic priest of Hebei’s Xiwanzi diocese. At year’s end, his whereabouts remained unknown. There was no new information on Su Zhimin, an unregistered Catholic bishop who disappeared after being taken into police custody in 1996.
Thaddeus Ma Daqin, who is recognized by the Vatican as the successor to Aloysius Jin Luxian as Bishop of Shanghai, was rarely seen in public since announcing his resignation from the CPA during his July 2012 Vatican-sanctioned consecration ceremony. According to the Shanghai Religious Affairs Bureau, the CPA suspended Ma’s right to conduct religious services for two years due to “improper consecration.” He reportedly spent most of his time since in seclusion at the Sheshan Catholic Seminary outside Shanghai, although he occasionally posted on social media and his blog. The Shanghai diocese did not have a leader after Jin Luxian’s death in April 2013, and at year’s end it was being managed by a five-priest caretaker council.
Some unregistered Catholic clergy remained in detention, in particular in Hebei Province. Harassment of unregistered bishops and priests continued, including government surveillance and repeated detentions.
Individuals belonging to or supporting other banned groups were imprisoned or sentenced to administrative detention on charges such as “distributing evil cult materials” or “using a heretical organization to subvert the law.”
Local authorities pressured religious believers to affiliate with patriotic associations and used administrative detention, including confinement and abuse in administrative detention centers, to punish members of unregistered religious or spiritual groups. While the National People’s Congress Standing Committee passed legislation in December 2013, to abolish reeducation-through-labor camps and state media announced inmates would be released, state media later issued a clarification that all pre-abolition penalties would be considered legitimate. Advocacy groups reported some camps simply had been relabeled, and authorities continue to detain members of religious and spiritual groups in these renamed facilities.
According to the law, inmates have the right to believe in a religion and maintain their religious beliefs while in custody. In practice, some prisoners and detainees of faith were told to recant their beliefs (particularly Falun Gong practitioners, who reportedly endured “thought reform”) or were not provided adequate access to religious materials, facilities, or clergy. Reports stated some prisons failed to accommodate prisoners' religious dietary requirements.
According to Legal Daily, a newspaper published under the supervision of the Ministry of Justice, the MPS directly administered 23 high-security psychiatric hospitals for the criminally insane (also known as ankang facilities). Unregistered religious believers and Falun Gong adherents were among those reported to be held solely for their religious associations in these institutions. Despite October 2012 legislation banning involuntary inpatient treatment (except in cases in which patients expressed an intent to harm themselves or others), critics stated the law did not provide meaningful legal protection for persons sent to psychiatric facilities. Patients in these hospitals reportedly were given medicine against their will and sometimes subjected to electric shock treatment.
International Falun Gong-affiliated NGOs and international media reported detentions of Falun Gong practitioners continued to increase around sensitive dates. Authorities reportedly instructed neighborhood communities to report Falun Gong members to officials and offered monetary rewards to citizens who informed on Falun Gong practitioners. Detained practitioners were reportedly subjected to various methods of physical and psychological coercion in attempts to force them to renounce their beliefs. It remained difficult to confirm some aspects of reported abuses of Falun Gong adherents. Reports from overseas Falun Gong-affiliated advocacy groups estimated thousands of adherents in the country had been sentenced to terms of up to three years in administrative detention. According to the human rights monitoring NGO Dui Hua Foundation, there were 2,201 Falun Gong prisoners as of June 30.
In August a Falun Gong practitioner was detained in Mudanjiang City, Heilongjiang Province. Authorities detained lawyers Wang Yu, Li Chunfu, and Li Dunyong for seven hours when they attempted to visit her. Yu Ming, a Falun Gong practitioner from Shenyang, reportedly remained in detention at the end of the year and suffered physical and psychological abuse while imprisoned.
Falun Gong practitioners He Wenting and her husband Huang Guangyu were tried on May 20 at the Panyu District Detention Center for “using an evil cult organization to interfere with the implementation of the law.” According to news reports and advocacy groups, the couple was detained for more than five months at the Fuyong Detention Center in Shawan City in Guangzhou after they were arrested for distributing free copies of internet censorship circumvention software at a Guangzhou university. After going on a hunger strike to protest her detention, He Wenting reported being restrained and force fed in a manner resulting in bruising, vomiting, and extreme physical pain. She reported prison officials attempted to “brainwash” her and asked her to sign a statement denouncing Falun Gong.
The CCP continued to maintain a Leading Small Group for Preventing and Dealing with the Problem of Heretical Cults as well as “610” offices (named for the date of its creation on June 10, 1999) to eliminate the Falun Gong movement and to address “evil cults.”
After the June 2 arrests of six members of the Church of Almighty God on allegations of murder, state-media reported in June that Ningxia Province police had detained more than 1,000 members since 2012 and Liaoning Province police had arrested 113 leaders since 2013. In June Huang Mingfei, a member of the Church of Almighty God, was sentenced to five years in prison in Guangdong Province for “organizing and using a religious cult to break laws.” Huang reportedly invited 39 people to her home and organized religious study sessions. In December state media reported Liaoning Province officials sentenced Zhang Shuzhi and Geng Yuqin to seven and four years in prison, respectively, for their recruitment activities. Also in December, 19 other members of the group in Jilin Province were sentenced to prison terms of between two and a half and six years.
Authorities released Wang Zhiwen from prison in October after serving a 15-year sentence for activities related to his Falun Gong practice. Following his release from prison, Wang was held in an administrative detention center and then placed under house arrest.
Human rights lawyers defending religious adherents were subject to harassment, detention, and professional pressure. In March human rights lawyers Zhang Junjie, Jiang Tianyong, Wang Cheng, Tang Jitian, and others were detained and reportedly beaten in Heilongjiang Province after they attempted to investigate an extrajudicial detention facility where Falun Gong practitioners were being held. Jiang Tianyong reported he was beaten with a water bottle by police, suspended from the ceiling and stretched by ropes while in handcuffs, threatened with brainwashing classes, and repeatedly slammed against the wall. Official media reported the lawyers and others were fined and held in administrative detention for five to 15 days for “using cult activities to endanger society.”
Human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who had defended religious minorities including Christians and Falun Gong members, was released from prison in August after completing a three-year term. After his release, authorities continued to restrict his movement and access to medical care.
The government did not renew the professional licenses of a number of attorneys who advocated for religious freedom, and it imprisoned other religious freedom activists or otherwise impeded their work on behalf of religious clients. Authorities also harassed or detained the family members, including children, of religious leaders and religious freedom activists.
In parts of the country, local authorities tacitly approved of or did not interfere with the activities of some unregistered groups. Officials in many large urban areas, for example, increasingly allowed services in unregistered places of worship provided they remained small in scale and did not disrupt “social stability.” In other areas, local officials punished the same activities by restricting events and meetings, confiscating and destroying property, physically assaulting and injuring participants, or imprisoning leaders and worshippers. Some local governments continued to restrict the growth of unregistered Protestant church networks and cross-congregational affiliations. In some parts of the country, authorities charged religious believers not affiliated with a patriotic religious association with various crimes, including “illegal religious activities” or “disrupting social stability.”
Unregistered house churches fell outside of the TSPM structure. The government did not recognize house churches and maintained they did not exist. Although SARA has said family and friends had the right to meet at home for worship, including prayer and Bible study, without registering with the government, authorities still regularly harassed and detained small groups that met for religious purposes in homes and other locations. Some house church members said they had more freedom than in the past to conduct religious services, as long as they gathered only in private.
Authorities in Liuzhou, Guangxi Province arrested and charged four individuals with “illegal business operations,” reportedly for their compilation and distribution of a Christian textbook. On February 18, police took Cheng Jie, director of a Christian kindergarten established by the Liangren Church in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, and Mo Xiliu, a teacher, into custody. On February 21, the women were placed under criminal detention and charged by the Liuzhou Public Security Bureau with “engaging in an illegal business operation.” The arrest and charges were reportedly due to the Christian textbooks used at the kindergarten, provided by the Liangren Church. Mo Xiliu was later released on bail. On June 23, Liuzhou police officers forcibly entered the home of Liangren Church missionary Ma Jiawen's house. Ma was not home at the time, but the police took his wife, Li Jiatao, into custody and confiscated a computer with some religious material. Police also detained Huang Quirui, a Liangren Church elder, and Fang Bin, a non-Christian contracted to print the Christian textbooks that same night. Li, Huang, and Fang were also charged with “illegal business operations.” The case was awaiting trial at the end of the year.
Authorities often confiscated Bibles in raids on house churches.
In June 2013, a Shanxi court sentenced a bookstore owner and a fellow Christian to imprisonment of five and two years, respectively, on charges related to distribution of Christian books. One of the employees, Li Wenxi, was reportedly released in December. In Xinjiang, government authorities at times restricted the sale of the Quran.
Security officials frequently interrupted outdoor services of the unregistered Shouwang Church in Beijing and detained people attending those services for several days without charge. Reports indicated the average length of these detentions increased from hours to days. Several members of the church's leadership, including Pastor Jin Tingming, remained under periods of extrajudicial detention since leading open air services in 2011.
In Xinjiang, the government cited concerns over the three evils – “separatism, religious extremism, and terrorism” – as a reason to enact and enforce repressive restrictions on religious practices of Uighur Muslims. Authorities often failed to distinguish between peaceful religious practice and criminal or terrorist activities. It remained difficult to determine whether particular raids, detentions, arrests, or judicial punishments targeted those seeking political goals, the right to worship, or criminal acts.
The government reportedly sought the forcible return of ethnic Uighurs living outside the country, many of whom had sought asylum from religious persecution. Hundreds of ethnic Uighurs reportedly fled or attempted to flee to Southeast Asia through China’s southern border. Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia all reported an increase in illegal immigrants believed to be Uighurs. In some cases third countries, Vietnam in particular, complied with Chinese requests for forcible return of Uighur asylum-seekers. There were reports of imprisonment and torture of Uighurs who were returned. The government’s control of information coming out of Xinjiang, together with the increasingly tight security posture there, made it difficult to verify the conflicting reports.
In Xinjiang, retired CCP cadre Memetimin Tursuntohti was fined 1,000 RMB ($161) by the Dol Township government for “ideological degradation,” failure to attend political study sessions, and for praying at a mosque, according to the Lop County website.
On March 31, the People’s High Court, Department of Public Security, Department of Culture, and Department of Industry and Commerce in Xinjiang announced a “joint crackdown” on videos and audio recordings the government defined as promoting terrorism, religious extremism, and separatism. It was forbidden to disseminate such materials on the internet, social media, and online marketplaces, according to the notice. As part of this “joint crackdown,” the Xinjiang government announced on its website that police could randomly stop individuals to check their mobile phones for any sensitive content. Reportedly, many Uighurs subsequently opted to delete any religious content on their mobile devices, including Arabic audio files of Quran readings and photos featuring women in conservative religious dress.
There was increased pressure in official campaigns in Xinjiang to dissuade women from wearing religious clothing and men from wearing beards. Officials singled out lawyers and their families in these campaigns. The Xinjiang judicial affairs department website posted a statement in July saying, “Lawyers must commit to guaranteeing that family members and relatives do not wear burqas, veils, or participate in illegal religious activities, and that young men do not grow long beards.”
In January newly appointed Hotan Municipal Government Party Secretary Chen Yuanhua asked all public and private medical organizations in Hotan to refuse service to women in religious dress, according to RFA. Chen stated that hospitals and clinics that treated women in religious dress, including veils, hijabs, and jilbabs, would risk losing their business licenses. This measure also forbade patients from performing the daily prayers while convalescing in hospitals or clinics
Authorities in Bulaqsui reportedly kept “stability maintenance” registers that included information such as whether female Muslims wore a veil. Uighur sources also reported recipients of public welfare stipends were asked to sign a pledge not to cover their faces for religious reasons.
During July Kashgar Prefecture forced all current and retired government employees to sign a pledge not to grow long beards or wear veils during Ramadan, according to RFA. At least 70 Uighurs were arrested in Kashgar and Aksu Prefectures in April for growing long beards, possessing “illegal” religious materials, and for gathering, according to RFA. Turahan, a woman from Shayar County, Aksu Prefecture, was detained by police for wearing religious dress and fined 800 RMB ($129). When she refused to pay the fine, RFA reported Turahan was forced to attend ideological study sessions at the police station, where there were at least 20 other women who were also detained for their religious dress, and only released after her family agreed to pay the police station 400 RMB ($64).
According to the Kashgar Prefecture government website, 58,000 ethnic minority, primarily Uighur, CCP cadres signed the “4 Nots” pledge, which stipulated that they and their family members would not: wear religious dress, including jilbabs and veils for women and long beards for men; participate in religious activities; listen or disseminate religious content and publications; and apply to or attend the Hajj.
Authorities in Karamay banned individuals with long beards or veils from boarding buses in August, with the stated reason of temporarily strengthening security during a sports competition.
On November 28, the Xinjiang People’s Congress Standing Committee approved a regulation banning the practice of religion in government buildings and wearing clothes associated with “religious extremism,” due to be implemented in January 2015. On December 10, the Urumqi city People’s Congress Standing Committee approved a separate ban on the wearing of Islamic veils in public in the capital city of Urumqi, with an implementation date of February 1, 2015.
Authorities in Xinjiang imposed strict controls on religious practice during Ramadan. The government barred teachers, professors, civil servants, and CCP members from fasting and attending religious services at mosques. Local authorities reportedly fined individuals for studying the Quran in unauthorized sessions, detained people for “illegal” religious activities or carrying “illegal” religious materials, and stationed security personnel in and around mosques to restrict attendance to local residents. Authorities reportedly hung Chinese flags on mosque walls in the direction of Mecca so prayers would be directed toward them.
Uighurs in Kashgar and Turpan reported officials interfered with fasting during Ramadan. In July local authorities in Xinjiang continued the annual practice of banning government employees and their family members from fasting during Ramadan. As part of the government’s stability maintenance campaign, students and teachers in Karghilik County signed a pledge in June not to fast or participate in religious activities, according to the Karghilik County Education Bureau website. The Kashgar Teachers College forced students to drink water during Ramadan and students were asked to partake in group lunches by their teachers to ensure they were not fasting during the day, reported Radio Free Asia.
Media reported Muslims could apply online or through local official Islamic associations to participate in the Hajj. According to media reports in the country, more than 14,500 Muslim citizens participated in the Hajj in the fall, including 2,223 individuals from Ningxia; 2,228 from Gansu Province; 1,310 from Yunnan Province; and, 236 from the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. These figures included China Islamic Association and security officials sent to monitor Muslim citizens and prevent unauthorized pilgrimages. Figures were not available for pilgrims from Xinjiang. Uighur Muslims reported difficulties taking part in state-sanctioned Hajj travel due to the inability to obtain travel documents in a timely manner and difficulties in meeting criteria required for participation in the official Hajj program run by the China Islamic Association. The government restricted the ability of Uighur Muslims to make private Hajj pilgrimages outside of the government-organized program. Ethnic and religious committee staff from across Xinjiang were sent to international airports in China in June and July to ensure Uighurs were not making private Hajj pilgrimages outside of government sanctioned programs, a government source reported.
Authorities continued their “patriotic education” campaign, which in part focused on preventing any illegal religious activities in Xinjiang.
There were widespread reports of prohibitions on children participating in religious activities in various localities throughout Xinjiang, but observers also reported seeing children in mosques and at Friday prayers in some areas of the region. In August and September state newspapers reported hundreds of children were “rescued” and dozens of persons were detained in a sweep of “illegal” religious schools.
The government continued to restrict religious education in institutions across the country. Islamic schools in Yunnan Province were reluctant to accept ethnic Uighur students out of concern that they would bring unwanted attention from government authorities and negatively affect school operations, according to local sources. Kunming Islamic College, a government-affiliated seminary, posted an official announcement stating it primarily accepted students from Yunnan, Sichuan, and Guizhou Provinces, as well as the Chongqing Special Municipality.
Hui Muslims in Ningxia, Gansu, Qinghai, and Yunnan provinces engaged in religious practice with less government interference than did Uighurs, according to local sources.
Individuals seeking to enroll at an official seminary or other institution of religious learning had to obtain the support of the official patriotic religious association. The government required students to demonstrate “political reliability,” and political issues were included in examinations of graduates of religious schools. Both registered and unregistered religious groups reported a shortage of trained clergy.
There were reports authorities restricted the acquisition or use of buildings for religious ceremonies and purposes.
Numerous international media sources reported that local authorities ordered the destruction of more than 230 Christian objects in Zhejiang Province throughout the year. While most incidents involved the removal of crosses and steeples, a handful of prominent churches were also affected, including the Sanjiang Church in the city of Wenzhou, which was leveled in April despite efforts by its parishioners to form human shields to protect it. Zhejiang officials stated the crosses and churches needed to be “demolished as “illegal structures” that violated local zoning laws.
There were reports authorities applied indirect pressure on house churches to cease their activities. In June advocacy groups reported a house church in Guangdong Province received an eviction notice from its landlord, who stated he had been pressured by the government. The church was in the middle of a three-year lease.
Officials continued to hold “anti-cult” education sessions and propaganda campaigns. Some officials required families to sign statements guaranteeing they would not take part in house churches and “evil cult” activities involving Falun Gong as a prerequisite for registering their children for school. Media reported government employees in Xinjiang were being forced to sign guarantees they would refrain from religious or political expression. The penalty for not signing could be barring their children from entering university or being subject to administrative investigation.
Pressure from authorities on unregistered churches in Guangdong Province continued. In January human rights groups reported Guangzhou police repeatedly interrupted Guangfu House Church gatherings and demanded the church cease the meetings.
Authorities continued to restrict the free printing and distribution of religious materials. The government limited distribution of Bibles to TSPM/Chinese Christian Council entities such as churches, church bookshops, and seminaries. Individuals could not order Bibles directly from publishing houses. Members of unregistered churches reported the supply and distribution of Bibles was inadequate, particularly in rural locations. There were approximately 600 Christian titles legally in circulation. According to a foreign Christian source, in the last 10 years an estimated 200 Christian bookstores and nine domestic Christian publishers had opened in the country.
A U.S. citizen aid worker was arrested in November on charges of embezzlement and counterfeiting receipts. His attorney stated he believed that the aid worker was being targeted because of his Christian faith.
On December 24, media reported the Modern College of Northwest University prohibited Christmas celebrations on campus, hung banners exhorting students to “oppose kitsch Western holidays” and “resist the expansion of Western culture.” School authorities required students to attend a three hour screening of propaganda films. Municipal education authorities in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, forbade all high schools, middle schools, elementary schools, and kindergartens from holding Christmas-related events.
There were reports officials refused a request to hold the funeral of Bishop Joseph Fan Zhongliang, the leader of the “underground” Catholic Church in China, at the Shanghai cathedral. Services were instead held at a funeral home where thousands of mourners paid their respects.
Patriotic religious association-approved Catholic and Protestant seminarians, Muslim clerics, and some Buddhist monks were allowed to travel abroad for additional religious study. Religious workers not affiliated with a patriotic religious association faced difficulties in obtaining passports or official approval to study abroad.
There were reported incidents of government interference with Falun Gong activities abroad. According to advocacy groups, Chinese government officials pressured venues and governments in a number of countries to limit the broadcast time of Falun Gong-associated radio stations and cancel or otherwise delay dance performances by the Shen Yun Performing Arts Company, which is associated with Falun Gong.
Government policy allows religious groups to engage in charitable work, although charities are not allowed to share religious beliefs while conducting activities. Faith-based charities, like all other charitable groups, are required to register with the government. The government does not permit unregistered charitable groups of any sort to raise funds openly, hire employees, open bank accounts, or own property
Registered religious groups provided social services throughout the country, and authorities allowed certain overseas faith-based aid groups to deliver services in coordination with local authorities and domestic groups. Some unregistered religious groups reported local authorities placed limits on their ability to provide social services.
According to several unregistered religious groups, the government required faith-based charities to obtain official co-sponsorship of the registration application by the local official religious affairs bureau. These groups often were required to affiliate with one of the five patriotic religious associations. The government did not permit unregistered charity groups of any sort to raise funds openly, hire employees, open bank accounts, or own property. The government allowed some registered religious organizations to engage in disaster relief and social service activities.
On March 19, human rights groups reported authorities threatened to shut down a house church-run care center for the homeless, disabled, orphaned, and elderly called the Huizhou Loving Care Center. Police claimed that the center was housed in a building that was not legally registered, threatened to demolish the house, and ordered the inhabitants to move out.
Although authorities required CCP members to be atheists and generally discouraged them from participating in religious activities, attendance by party members at official church services was reportedly growing, as authorities increasingly chose to turn a blind eye to their attendance. In November a CCP Central Inspection Team openly criticized Zhejiang CCP officials for having religious beliefs that conflicted with CCP discipline. Zhu Weiqun, chairman of the CPPCC Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee wrote in a November Global Times editorial that adherence to non-belief was an “unshakable principle” of the CCP and that members “cannot follow any religion.” Zhu suggested that scholars who advocated for allowing party members to adhere to religious faith had “already converted to Christianity long ago.”
In May the University of International Relations and the Social Science Academy Press released a Blue Book citing religion among the four greatest challenges to national security faced by the People’s Republic of China. The Blue Book identified “religious infiltration” as a challenge to the preservation of the current governmental system. In a speech on December 24, SARA Director Wang Zouan warned against the “foreign infiltration of Christianity into China” and instructed the Catholic Church to uphold the “banner of patriotism.”