Religion News from China and Taiwan

(This is just a random collection of items -- by no means comprehensive.)

Falun gong 1992 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
2007 2009 2011

  • Jan. 12, 1992 (NY Times)
    China Cracks Down Harder on Christian Activities Outside Official Church

  • Feb. 28, 1992 (AP)
    China to Crack down on the Growth of Religion among Youth

    An increasing number of Chinese children are turning to religion and some have even rejected the Communist Party and refused to salute the flag, according to confidential documents detailing steps to limit religion among the young. Religious belief and participation in religious activities among youth is as high as 33 percent in some areas, said three documents obtained from Chinese sources by The Associated Press. China is officially atheist, although freedom of religious belief is guaranteed by the constitution.

    The latest clampdown, which began late last year, indicates Beijing is unwilling to abandon some hard-line Marxist policies even as it steers toward support of capitalist-style development. The attack on religion apparently targets all faiths, but notably Protestantism, Catholicism, Islam and Tibetan Buddhism.

    The documents, one from the central government and two from different provinces, illustrate restiveness among China's youth. One document said students in several counties in the coastal province of Zhejiang, a center of Protestant worship, refused to salute the Chinese flag or wear red scarves to show they belonged to the Young Pioneers, a group attached to the Communist Party. Students, according to the notice from the Zhejiang province's Education Commission, also refused to pay respects at the graves of Communist "revolutionary martyrs."

    The nation's Education Commission said in a document that foreigners were partly to blame for the growth in believers and ordered surveillance of suspected proselytizers. The document, titled "Notice on the Prevention of Some Places Using Religious Activities to Hinder School Education," said surveys in three counties of 8,419 high school and elementary school students showed 19.6 percent were believers. Several schools, the Beijing document said, were violating party policy by hanging signs with religious overtones such as "Bethel Science Building" and "Grace Teaching Building." The circular, issued Aug. 5, 1991, was sent to each province. It called on authorities to strengthen "the Marxist view of religion and scientific thinking" among the young.

    China's religious movements have turned violent in at least two areas. In northwest Xinjiang province, some Muslims of Turkish descent have clashed with officials as part of an effort for an independent republic. Dozens of Tibetan Buddhists calling for independence have been killed by Chinese security forces over the past four years.

  • July 15, 1995
    Huge Temple Project Dedicated to Mao Declared Superstitious

    [CND, 07/12/95] BEIJING -- Party cadres in Hunan Leiyang county suspended the construction of a huge temple dedicated to the worship of Chairman Mao and declared the project superstitious and feudalistic. The temple was being built by thousands of farmers with at least 20 million yuan ($2.4 million) investment from local residents and pilgrims from faraway areas. In a telephone interview by Reuter on Tuesday, an official said that a work team from the local government had occupied the 120,000 square meter temple complex in May and had driven away all worshipers of Mao, but had yet to decide what to do with the temple buildings. The "Three Sources" temple, with its halls dedicated to China's three greatest Communist heroes -- Chairman Mao Tsetung, Premier Zhou Enlai and revolutionary general Zhu De -- "looks just like a Buddhist temple," the official said. Usually, officials in Hunan, Mao's home province, do not try to stop farmers' activities such as burning incense, making offerings and kowtowing to images of Mao, but the scale of the Leiyang temple had prompted their action.

  • January 17, 1996
    Beijing to Tighten Religious Practice

    Beijing authorities are starting to crack down on religion again by ordering all places of worship to register with the government, Reuters reported Sunday. State officials at a national meeting accused some people of trying to take advantage of more freedom in religion with the aim of overthrowing the government and dividing the nation. Apart from the order to register, officials at the meeting also urged measures to deal with new problems in religious practice and to nurture patriotism among young religious leaders. The building of new churches in China indicates a growing popularity of Christianity, prompting the warning on religious activities. Presently, China has several million known Catholic and Protestant believers, and many more who attend unauthorized services.

  • January 26, 1997
    Catholics in China, Facing Crackdown, Return to the Underground (NY Times)

  • April 5, 1997
    Anxiety in Hong Kong Over Religious Freedom (NY Times)

  • June 30, 1997
    Government Cracks Down on Pro-Independence Officials in Muslim Region

    [CND, 06/28/97] Two hundred and sixty grassroots officials in Muslim region were fired, affecting 35 Communist Party heads of villages and towns in Yili district in Xinjiang region and 19 village mayors or factory managers, Reuters reported quoting the Xinjiang Daily.

    Authorities launched a crackdown on underground religious activities in Yili. Unauthorized construction or renovation of 133 mosques were stopped, said the newspaper. About 40 core participants in illegal religious activities had been arrested. No further further details were available. The newspaper did say, however, that "Illegal religious activities were cleaned up in Yili district village by village, hamlet by hamlet."

    According to the paper, 105 illegal classes teaching the Koran were broken up by authorities and 499 students were dispersed. Police officers and militias were increased by 459 and 266, respectively. Five pro-independence school officials were fired and are facing dismissal for stirring up separatist sentiment.

    According to state media, nine people were left dead during the riots last February that involved Muslim separatist. (Ray ZHANG)

  • October 20, 1997
    State Council Issues White Paper on Religions

    [CND, 10/19/97] Ahead of Chinese President Jiang Zemin's state visit to the U.S., China's State Council issued a white paper on religions in China to defend the government's religious policy, AFP reported from Beijing.

    The White Paper claims that, under the guarantee of the Chinese Constitution, no Chinese citizen would be forced to believe in, or not believes in, any religion. The paper also denies the existence of discrimination or persecution based on religious beliefs by government organs or individuals. Meanwhile, it warns that religious organizationsand activities must "conform to laws and regulations". The AFP report commented that independent churches in China virtually cannot survive without protection from the Communist Party.

    The White Paper reiterates the government's resolute hard stance against subversive and criminal activities under the name of "religions". Authorities in Tibet and Xinjiang, two regions facing ethnic and religious riots recently, have compared this policy to the U.S. official action against the Waco-based Branch Davidian cult, and Japanese government against the Aum Supreme Truth cult.

    The Paper recounts in length how the Roman Catholic Church functioned as a tool of colonialism and imperialism between 1850-1949. TheVatican needs to switch its recognition of China from Taipei to Beijing and pledge no interfering in China's internal affairs, before its clergy will be allowed to conduct religious services in the mainland.

    The Paper says there are about four million members under the official Catholic Church, and some ten million Protestants are following 18,000 clergy nationwide. (Hua ZHAO)

  • Skewed Boy/Girl Ratio Raises Serious Concern in China

    [CND, 10/17/97] The average ratio between boys and girls is 118 to 100 in China now, a much higher figure than the world's average ratio of 104:100, according to AFP citing demographer Caroline Hoy from Dundee University. A 1994 survey conducted among migrant workers in Beijing indicates the gender skew is even higher with an average of 139:100 male/female birth ratio among this mobile population. Hoy attributed this rapid increase of male births to factors such as "differential abortion, differential health care, and non-registration of female births". Another report from Chicago Tribune (CT) supported this assumption. A Chinese expert from the Center for Women's Studies at Xi'an Jiaotong University, Prof. Zhu Chuzhu, said at a population conference last week that although female infanticide is still practiced in China in some rural areas of the country, it has become less and less common. What affects the drastic change of the ratio is the selective abortion of female fetuses which is made possible by wide-spread modern technologies that are used to detect gender during the prenatal period. In China, doctors are forbidden by law to reveal the gender of a fetus. However, rapid growth of private clinics that provide gender detection service make it almost impossible for the government to control. In modern China, boys are still more desirable than girls. It may determine a woman's status within the family in this male-dominant society. "It's a time bomb. The worst problem will be around the first decade of the next century and the second decade," said Monica Das Gupta, a Harvard University fellow, because by that time about "twenty-three percent of men would not be able to find a wife." Reported by AFP and CT. (WU Fang, Ray ZHANG, Guochen WAN)

  • Government to Continue One-child Policy Despite Aging Problem

    [CND, 10/19/97] The 23rd General Population Conference of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population closed in Beijing on Friday with Chinese officials stressing China's need to continue its one-child policy, Agence France Presse reported. It quoted Jiang Zhenghua, vice-minister of the State Family Planning Commission, as saying that "the one child policy that took effect here in the late 1970s has helped the country control the fast growth of population" and that the birth rate was down to 17 per thousand last year, from 33 per thousand in 1970.

    Earlier last week, AFP reported that China still faces a severe population growth situation. Quoting Wang Qiming, an official with the national center of the 21st Century Agenda, it said that although China's population growth rate is falling, the number of new births remains high. At the end of 1996, China had 1.22 billion people, 22 percent of the world's total. Each year, about 21 million babies are born, and the net population increase is about 13 million. Lu Yu, of the Shandong Academy of Social Science, said, if China does not control its population growth, sustainable development and the basic living condition of the Chinese people," he said.

    According to a Thursday report by the Beijing-based China Daily newspaper, China's population will peak at 1.519 billion in 2033 as the effects of the one-child-per-family policy kick in. Quoting researchers from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), the newspaper said the natural population growth rate in 1996 was 10.42 per thousand and this would fall to zero by 2033.

    Experts, however, warned that declining birth rate will also contribute to a growing proportion of elderly population, AFP reported. They said China would have to improve its social security system in the next 20 years to meet the challenge of an aging population. The number of people above 60 will be 130 million or 10 percent of the population by the turn of the century, rising to 280 million in 2025 and 400 million in 2050 amounting to more than a quarter of the population, AFP reported. (Kewen ZHANG, Guochen WAN)

  • April 13, 1998
    Buddha's Tooth Arrives in Taipei After Long Journey;
    Critics: Will Buddha's Tooth Solve Taiwan's Problems?

    [CND, 04/11/98] The third known Buddha's tooth arrived in Taipei and was worshiped by 20,000 devout Buddhists on Saturday, after its long journey from Tibet India, and Bangkok, reported AFP. The sacred tooth, believed to be one of four recovered from Buddha's ashes after his cremation in India more than 2,500 years ago, was smuggled to India out of Tibet during the height of China's Cultural Revolution between 1966 and 1976.

    After all the years of being kept in India, Buddhists in India decided to give the holy relic to Taiwan, fearing vandalism from religious extremists. As there are no direct flights between India and Taiwan, the tooth was flown to Bangkok for a short stay on Wednesday where 10,000 people viewed it, and then the sacred tooth went on to Taipei on a chartered flight guarded by a delegation of Taiwan Buddhists on Thursday morning.

    Taiwan's premier Vincent Siew officiated the ceremony, which was held in the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall on Saturday. "We hope the power of religion could bring stability to society and purify souls," he said during the ritual. "The sacred tooth could inspire people to learn and do good deeds," said Vice President Lien Chan in the ceremony.

    The public has been greatly concerned over the ever-declining social order and their personal safety, as well as about recent air disasters, in one of which 202 people died in a China Airlines plane crash. Brutal crimes committed by known people were reported. In one of the cases, an eleven-year-old girl in southern Pingtung county was raped and murdered by her male classmates and the father of one of the accused boys. In another, a female graduate student was murdered by a classmate at the National Tsinghua University. The Taiwan authorities hoped that the arrival of the Buddha's tooth could bring peace to society. Some opponents in Taiwan say the government should solve problems, not fan superstition.

    Meanwhile, a Beijing-based Chinese Buddhists Association claimed the Buddha tooth a fake, reported AFP. An unnamed spokesman said, "Generations of Dalai and Panchen Lamas have never mentioned the existence of such a tooth in the region. We have no idea where the third Buddha's tooth originates."

    The Buddha's tooth is to be displayed in a Taipei temple for three months and then moved to a permanent facility in the southern city of Kaohsiung.

    (Liu Yanping, Yin De An, Mok Charles )

  • June 17, 1998
    China's Churches: Glad, and Bitter, Tidings
    (NY Times)

  • November 13, 1998
    Underground House Churches Reportedly Attacked by Police in Henan

    [CND, 11/10/98] Police in China's central Henan province rounded up more than 140 Christians in two separate incidents recently, an AFP report cited a church group as saying. A spokesman for the Chinese House Church said that 40 house church leaders from all over the country were arrested by police in Liuwan village on October 26, among whom 11 were later taken to Fangzheng county prison and tortured. Nanyang police on November 5 surrounded a house church gathering, and arrested more than 100 believers. The group claimed 80 million members of Christian house churches in China.

    Authorities gave varied responses to AFP's query into the cases. Police at Wugung town above Liuwan village acknowledged the incident but said they were merely helping the Public Security Bureau of Wugang City which is one level above the town. Police in the city denied knowledge of the incident. Nanyang police declined to comment.

  • April 26, 1999
    10,000 Protesters in Beijing Urge Cult's Recognition (NY Times)

  • May 3, 1999
    House Christians Arrested

    BEIJING (AP) -- Police busted up a church service at a rural home and detained all 25 worshippers in the latest raid on Protestants worshipping outside state control in China, a human rights group reported today. The dozen police confiscated all the Bibles found at the home in Sui county in central Henan province. Eight days after the April 25 raid, 15 worshippers remained in detention, the Hong Kong-based Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China reported.

    Many rural Christians in China meet in homes because of a lack of clergy and churches. Some of the gatherings are registered as part of the official church, but many others fail to meet the government's criteria for registration or refuse to submit to its control over all religious activity. The government's control has included limits on evangelizing and restrictions on ties with overseas churches. The Information Center also said local police have been known to detain and fine house church members as a way of getting cash.

    The raid in Sui county was at least the fifth police have conducted in Henan, a center of activity for the underground Protestant church, since October. Police have detained 225 other Christians, the Information Center said. The total includes 40 people detained on Christmas in the area of Shangqiu city, it said. Police are still holding 13 of them and threatened to send them to labor camps if they did not pay $240 each, nearly as much as the average rural resident makes in a year.

  • May 25, 1999
    Oldest Edition Of Confucian Classic Discovered

    SHIJIAZHUANG, CHINA (Xinhua) - Chinese scholars have identified a collection of bamboo slips unearthed in a 2,000-year- old tomb as the earliest edition of the Confucian Analects. The bamboo version was found in a tomb in Hebei Province, which archeologists say belongs to an emperor of the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD) and dates back possibly to 55 BC.

    The tomb was first discovered in the early 1990s by local farmers who were digging water control facilities. A great number of bamboo slips have been unearthed, but most of the characters on them were illegible and archeologists had to use modern techniques to reveal their true nature. Ultimately they reached the conclusion that some of them were from the Analects, a collection of major doctrines and sayings of the educator and philosopher Confucius (551 - 479 BC).

    The book is more than 2,000 years old and is the earliest edition of a Confucian work ever found, according to Xie Fei, the director of the Hebei Cultural Relics Research Institute, who examined the slips along with scholars from the State Cultural Relics Bureau and Beijing's Palace Museum.

    The collection consists of more than 620 bamboo slips, which were used by the ancient Chinese before the use of paper was popularized. They measure 16.2 centimeters by 0.7 centimeters and contain as many as 20 characters each. There are also traces of the silk strings that were used to connect them.

  • September 13, 1999
    U.S. Report Criticizes China Over Religious Persecution

    [CND, 09/12/99] In its first annual report reviewing international religious persecution, the U.S. State Department criticized Beijing's extensive crackdown on religious groups that are not officially recognized by the government, and concluded that China has "a serious problem" in violating international norms of religious freedom, the South China Morning Post reported on Saturday.

    The report said that China used to tolerate traditional Chinese religions such as Taoism and Buddhism more than Christianity, but it has tightened its control, as the rapid growth of such sects may challenge its authority, noting the crackdown on Falungong as an example.

    In addition, the report described China's abuse and torture of Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns, and persecution of Muslim Uighurs, Protestants, and Catholics, who are independent of officially recognized churches.

    The State Department officials were not sure what, if any, action would be taken. But U.S. President Clinton said that he would raise the concern over religious freedom with Chinese President JIANG Zemin during their summit at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation Forum in Auckland. (LIU Weimin, WU Yiyi)

  • December 13, 1999
    Poll Finds Hong Kong Residents the Least Religious People

    [CND, 12/13/99] A recent Gallup poll, which surveyed around 50,000 people worldwide, found that residents in Hong Kong are the least religious people in the world, followed by those of the Czech Republic, AFP reported. Sixty-four percent of Hong Kong residents surveyed said that they do not belong to any particular religion, compared to 55 percent of Czechs.

    The survey found west Africans to be the most religious people, with 99 percent surveyed responded that they belonged to a particular religion. Southeast Asians were found to be the least religious, with 77 percent replying positively to the survey, compared to 84 percent of Western Europeans, 88 percent of Eastern Europeans, 91 percent of North Americans, and 97 percent of Latin Americans.

    Forty-eight percent of people in Southeast Asia and Western Europe said God had any importance in their lives, compared to 97 percent in West Africa, 82 percent in North America, and 88 percent in Latin America.

    The survey found that the feeling of belonging to a particular religion lessens as a child progresses through school. Seventy percent of children of primary school age feel they belong to a religion, 54 percent of secondary age and 52 percent at university. The survey also found women to be more religious than men, by 69 percent against 57. (Ray ZHANG, YIN De An)

  • January 7, 2000
    Vatican Unhappy With Beijing's Ordination of Bishops (China News Digest)

  • January 7, 2000
    Buddhist Leader, 14, Flees Chinese Rule in Tibet for India (New York Times)

  • January 9, 2000
    Dalai Lama Meets Buddhist Leader Who Escaped From China
    (Associated Press)

  • January 10, 2000
    Buddhist leader's exile spotlights China religious repression (Associated Press)
    More Tibetans flee homeland (Christian Science Monitor))
    China Girds For a Battle Of the Spirit (Washington Post)

  • January 15, 2000
    Karmapa Wants to Revive Black Hat Ceremony (Associated Press)

  • February 4, 2000
    Chinese Catholic Bishop Detained by Beijing

    [CND, 02/03/00] The Cardinal Kung Foundation, a U.S.-based Catholic organization, claimed that authorities have detained Bishop HAN Dingxiang, a leader of the underground Roman Catholic Church in mainland China. Han, who had already spent time in prison for voicing allegiance to the Pope, was reported to have been detained this past December while leading a religious retreat in his home province of Hebei. The foundation also claimed Hebei authorities detained three other Catholic priests last year.

    In a further effort to foster Catholic leaders loyal to Beijing rather than the Vatican, the Chinese government-sanctioned Catholic Church consecrated five Chinese bishops last month. This is in explicit defiance of Vatican regulations. (Tamara Perkins, YIN De An)

  • February 4, 2000
    Zhong Gong Offices Raided, Members Detained

    [CND, 02/03/00] Last November Beijing authorities reportedly raided the offices of Zhong Gong, a religious group similar to Falungong, according to an AFP report Tuesday. The Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China laimed that police confiscated assets worth 50 million yuan from the main office of the Zhong Gong meditation group. The group, which practices a form of breathing exercises known as qigong, supposedly has 10 million practicing members. (Tamara Perkins, YIN De An)

  • February 9, 2000
    Global Chinese Community in Prayer for Sign of Prosperity

    [CND, 02/08/00] Sunday was the second day of the newly arrived Year of the Dragon, and Chinese communities all over the world gathered at temples to pray, in hopes that the new year will bring good fortune, peace, and stability, AFP reported. Of the 12 symbols in the Chinese zodiac, the Dragon is the most auspicious, and it is joined this year with the element gold. Such a Golden Dragon year occurs only once every 60 years in the traditional lunar calendar. Many Chinese hope that this Golden Dragon year will bring renewed peace and prosperity, especially in light of the lingering effects of the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

    An optimistic tone predominated in the traditional Lunar New Year's speeches given by leaders of Chinese communities across Asia.

    This year's Lunar New Year celebrations in Indonesia were the first since 1967, following the lifting of a ban on public celebrations of the holiday dating from that year. In Jakarta, many ethnic Chinese visited temples to pray for peace and economic stability, which has been torn by socio-economic and political troubles over the last several years. Although Chinese immigrants and their descendents make up a small percentage of Indonesia's 210 million people, they are said to own a disproportionate amount of the country's wealth.

    In his New Year's speech, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed called for reconciliation, exhorting Malaysians to continue to act tolerantly. He also remarked on Malaysia's having escaped relatively unscathed from the 1997 crisis, saying: "Celebrations to mark the Year of the Dragon will no doubt be more joyful and meaningful this time, not only because the country is now free from economic pressures."

    In Beijing, authorities quashed an attempt by the Falun Gong sect to hold a demonstration in Tian'anmen Square. As of Sunday, Tian'anmen Square was quiet again, but the traditional New Year's celebrations there were marked by a heavy uniformed police presence.

    In Taiwan, election campaigning continued over the holiday, in the run-up to the country's presidential elections in March, against a backdrop of traditional New Year's activities. (Laurel Mittenthal, WU Yiyi)

  • March 14, 2000
    Cardinal Ignatius Kung, 98, Long Jailed by China, Dies
    (New York Times)

  • April 7, 2000
    Revival of popular religion in Guangdong Province (New York Times) -- Note: the author doesn't recognize that the "Heaven Mother" worshipped in the village of Xialing is Mazu, the "Heavenly Mother" (Tianmu) or "Queen of Heaven" (Tianhou), who has been widely worshipped along the southeast coast for about 1,000 years. But the account of the revival of popular religion is good.

  • May 17, 2000
    Government Tightens Control on Qigong Organizations

    [CND, 05/16/00] The Chinese government has enacted new regulations for Qigong organizations in order to keep their activities under control, the South China Morning Post reported on Monday.

    One of the measures requires a Communist Party cell for each group. According to the new regulations, all Qigong organizations need to be registered with the Ministry of Civil Affairs and monitored by either the Ministry of Health or the Administration of Sports, depending on the nature of the practice. Government senior officials are not allowed to play a leading role in the organization and members of Communist Party and Communist Party Youth League are prohibited from joining the group.

    In addition, the Qigong groups are banned from setting up business, school or training center under the new regulations. Any publications by the organization should be printed by an officially recognized printing company and cannot be used to promote superstitions in any way. (SUN Xiaoan, WU Yiyi)

  • Aug 17, 2000
    China's Religious Leaders Shrug off Foreign Criticism

    BEIJING, Aug 17, 2000 -- (Agence France Presse) China's top religious leaders warned foreign countries against meddling in domestic affairs on the pretext of upholding religious freedom, Chinese press reported Thursday. "Some countries use religious freedom as an excuse to fuel separatism in other countries. These acts go against the world's religions," Jamyang (eds: known by first name), Vice President of the Buddhist Association of China, was quoted by the China Daily as saying.

    The leaders, from the five major religions recognized by China (Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestant), gathered Wednesday in Beijing to prepare for the Millennium World Peace Summit, to be held from August 28-31 in the United States and of which China is a participant. The leaders warned of the dangers of American "hegemony' and rejected international criticism that China lacked religious freedom.

    Jamyang, a Buddhist, originally from Tibet, denied Tibet was without religious freedom or that China was destroying the indigenous culture in the Himalayan region, claiming both allegations were "groundless." "The Tibetan cultural heritage can only be better preserved and the freedom of religious belief be better protected through developing the economy and improving people's life in the region," he said, according to state-news agency Xinhua.

    Fu Tieshan, the Bishop of Beijing, who will lead the Chinese delegation at the Religious Summit, warned against the possible presence of the banned Falun Gong sect at the summit. "All of the religions, and the conference, will be tarnished if they are given the authority to attend," he said, according to Xinhua. China counts 100 million believers among the five big religions with a clergy of about 300,000.

    (c) 2000 Agence France Presse

  • August 25, 2000
    China Arrests Evangelicals, Including 3 From the U.S. (New York Times)

  • August 26, 2000
    U.S. Evangelists Are Released Following Detention in China (New York Times)

  • Sept. 6, 2000
    Chinese Police Arrests Bishop of Underground Catholic Church

    [CND, 09/05/00] Authorities in China arrested Joseph JIANG Ming Yuan, a newly appointed bishop of the underground Catholic church in the Zhao County of Hebei province, AFP reported on Tuesday.

    According to the Vatican news agency Fides, the bishop was arrested on August 26, two weeks after his nomination to the position.

    The underground church in China does not cooperate with the government. It pledges its loyalty to the Vatican, rather than the government. (Dong LIU, YIN De An)

  • Sept. 8, 2000
    Religious Freedom in China Deteriorates: U.S. State Department

    [CND, 09/07/00] In its second annual report on religious freedom around the world, the U.S. State Department cited "credible reports of religious detainees being beaten and tortured," according to a Wednesday South China Morning Post report.

    The report discusses the increased restrictions over the past year on religious activities not officially sanctioned by the Beijing government. It mentioned constraints and/or mistreatment faced by Muslim Uygurs, Tibetan Buddhists, Falun Gong followers and certain Protestant and Catholic sects. In particular, abuses that Falun Gong members reportedly suffered such as "electric shock, shackles and being chained together" are described as "credible."

    "The atmosphere created by the harsh crackdown on the Falun Gong spiritual movement and the unremitting nationwide campaigns against 'cults' and superstition ... had an inevitable spillover effect on other faiths," said the report. "While membership in many faiths grew rapidly and government supervision of religious activity was minimal in some regions, government officials in other regions imposed tight regulations, closed houses of worship, and actively persecuted members of some unregistered religious groups."

    Robert Seiple, Ambassador for Religious Affairs for the United States commented on China's "tough year" for religious freedom. With reference to reported abuses against Falun Gong followers, Mr. Seiple concluded: "The Chinese Government is concerned about things that it does not understand and cannot control."

    The report was issued just hours after the arrival of President JIANG Zemin in New York City to attend the United Nations Millennium Summit. It is expected that the report will be raised during a meeting Friday between Mr. Jiang and President Clinton. (Tamara Perkins, WU Yiyi)

    [ Click here to read the report.]

  • Sept. 8, 2000
    China jails two Buddhists for organising cult-group

    HONG KONG, Sept 9 (Reuters) - China has sentenced two Buddhists to three years in jail for "organising evil cult to break law and order," a Hong Kong-based human rights group said on Saturday.

    The Information Centre for Human Rights & Democracy said in a statement Buddhists Liu Yin and Gan Suqin were arrested in February and sentenced on July 18. The two were from the Guan Yin Method sect, which was founded in Taiwan in 1988 and spread to China in 1992, the centre said. It said Guan Yin Method had about 200,000 believers in mainland China.

    The United States accused China this week of trying to stem a surge in religious activity by harassing, detaining and physically abusing believers.

    The human rights group said on Monday China had laid criminal charges against 85 members of a banned Christian church who were detained a week earlier. The 85 were among 130 members of the China Fang-cheng Church detained on August 23 in the central province of Henan, it said.

    Besides the crackdown on the Buddhist and Christian groups, Beijing has also continued to tighten its screws on the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement and the Zhong Gong meditation group.

  • September 18, 2000
    China Is Said to Rearrest Bishop Released for Clinton's '98 Visit (NY Times)

  • September 17, 2000
    China Protests Planned Canonization of 120 (NY Times)

  • September 30, 2000
    'Saints' in Rome Are 'Henchmen' To Beijing (Washington Post)

  • October 2, 2000
    Pope Canonizes 120 Killed in China and One American (NY Times)

  • December 15, 2000
    Zhejiang Closes and Destroys Underground Churches and Temples

    [CND, 12/14/00] China's southeastern Zhejiang province has closed 239 and blown up 210 underground churches and temples during a campaign last month to crack down on religious groups that have not registered with the local government, AFP reported Wednesday.

    A spokesman of the government said that the campaign was meant to protect the public and maintain social stability. "These organizations were operating under the cloak of religion. They hoodwinked people and interfered in normal religious activities." The central government in Beijing said that the campaign was a local one and happened only in Zhejiang. (Lisa BU, WUi Yiyi)

  • December 20, 2000
    Brutal Tragedy Hit Northern China As Religious Tension Escalates

    [CND, 12/19/00] A 33-year-old Muslim farmer, WANG Chunping, of Mengcun County, Hebei province was brutally killed in an ethnic confrontation last week, marking the violent culmination of tensions that have been building up in Yangxin, Shandong province since September, AFP reported on Monday.

    Two small holes from a lethal bullet were found in his body. A thin violet mark around his neck was caused by the wire that the killers put around his neck neck to drag his body along the ground. His body was mutilated by a 25-centimeter (10-inch) knife cut that cut through his front torso, according to one of Wangs relatives who were preparing his body for a traditional Islamic funeral.

    The tragedy occurred when about 2,000 Muslims from Mengcun County drove to the neighboring Shandong province last Tuesday to support their Muslim brethren in their three-month confrontation with non-Muslims. Shandong's paramilitary Peoples Armed Police set up three roadblocks on the road and opened fire on the marching group as they entered the second roadblock, killing six and wounding more than 40, said witnesses.

    The confrontation between the Muslims and the Hans started in September when a Han Chinese shop owner in Yangxin's Heliu village started selling "Islamic pork." The Muslims protested to no avail as officials took no actions in eliminating the tension. The shop owner and another Han Chinese were then killed, and the authorities in Shandong arrested three Muslims, the report said.

    The Huis, descendants of Arab and Persian traders from the 7th century, are among the most assimilated minorities in China and are virtually indistinguishable from the Hans, represented in most parts of China. In fact, members of the Muslim Hui community in Mengcun have been living in harmony with the Han Chinese for decades and inter-marriages have been common in the area. Last week's incident suggested that their seemingly peaceful relations can be easily broken and turned into brutal tragedy. (LIN Shaoting. YIN De An)

  • December 20, 2000
    Chinese Leaders Target Churches in Crackdown (Washington Post, via Detroit News)

  • January 3, 2001
    China Destroys Churches in Provinicial Onslaught

    The Chinese government has justified as "protecting religious freedom" a new crackdown on unauthorized religious activity in Wenzhou in Zhejiang province. Reports, confirmed by the government, said hundreds of temples and churches in the southeastern region were destroyed.

    "It is clear that China has been carrying out a policy of protecting religious freedom," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue told Reuters on December 14. A spokesperson for Wenzhou's propaganda department told the Associated Press the government had destroyed about 450 buildings in the first half of December, but the Hong Kong-based International Center for Human Rights reported that 1,200 buildings have been destroyed with dynamite.

    Wenzhou is known for its thriving religious community, which includes several small Christian churches established by Europeans in the 18th and 19th centuries. "In rural areas, religious superstition is still very rampant," said a spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Office in Wenzhou. "The government's goal is to demolish those illegal buildings as well as correct those decadent rural lifestyles."

    Among those targeted in China's crackdown on nongovernment-sanctioned religious activities has been the Falun Gong spiritual movement. A blend of traditional Chinese exercises and Buddhist and Taoist principles, Falun Gong was banned by authorities ill July Of 1999 as a threat to public order.

    On December 12, Chinese authorities for the first time jailed a Falun Gong follower with permanent U.S. residency. Teng Chunyan, who is married to a U.S. citizen but still holds Chinese citizenship, was given a three-year sentence for "spying for overseas organizations and illegally providing intelligence on the state."

    The United States has asked China to release Teng, who used her Chinese passport to return to China in the spring. She had hoped to document the treatment of Falun Gong followers in a mental hospital in Beijing, the International Center said.

    [Religion News Service]

  • May 14, 2001
    Police Arrest Clerics in Xinjiang

    [CND 05/14/01] Seven clerics were arrested and two underground mosques destroyed in Xinjiang province due to the expending of Chinas Strike Hard campaign, Hong Kong iMail and AFP reported on Monday quoting state media. The campaigns targeted organized crime gangs initially, but it expended to include robbery, drug trafficking, separatist activities and those who worship outside of government-approved churches.

    Xinjiang Communist Partys disciplinary organ recently warned party members to stay away from separatists or non-state sanctioned religious activities, the report said. Party members found participating, supporting or covering up separatist activities would be disciplined seriously. Xinjiang's deputy chief HU Jiayan admitted that pro-independence forces have infiltrated the party organs in the region. The new regulations are an effort to check the spread of separatist activities. (Mei HUI)

  • October 25, 2001
    The Pope Apologizes for the Catholic Church's 'Errors' in China (NY Times)

  • October 26, 2001
    China Repeats Terms for Ties Pope Seeks (NY Times)

  • January 29, 2002
    China Sentences Man on Reduced Charge for Importing Bibles (NY Times)

  • February 10, 2002
    China Releases Bible Smuggler From Prison (NY Times)

  • February 13, 2002
    Furor Over Death Sentences of 5 in Chinese Church Group (NY Times)

  • February 14, 2002
    Foreign Followers of Falun Gong Held by Police in Beijing Protest (NY Times)

  • February 15, 2002
    China Blasts Falun Gong, Expels Foreign Protesters (NY Times)

  • March 3, 2002
    China Punishes a Christian Home for the Aged (NY Times)

  • November 26, 2002
    God and China (NY Times)

  • February 23, 2003
    From a Chinese Cell, a Lama's Influence Remains Undimmed (NY Times)

  • November 25, 2004
    Violence Taints Religion's Solace for China's Poor (NY Times)

  • April 29, 2005
    Up From the Underground (Washington Post)

  • May 8, 2006
    China Installs Bishop With Approval of Vatican (NY Times)

  • June 9 , 2006
    China Bans 'Code' After Warning from Catholics (NY Times)

  • August 18, 2006
    China Adds Restrictions in Effort to Shake the Faith of Independent Congregations (NY Times)

  • September 19, 2006
    China blasts US accusation on religious freedom
    (China Daily)

  • November 20, 2006
    China opposes being listed on US religious blacklist
    (China Daily)

  • December 1, 2006
    China Installs New Bishop, Angering Cardinal (NY Times)

  • February 7, 2007
    Religious believers thrice the estimate
    (China Daily)

  • October 22, 2007
    Religion mentioned in CPC Constitution (China Daily)
    (Note: This refers to the Constitution of the Communist Party of China. The Constitution of the People's Republic of China has included an article (36) guaranteeing "freedom of religious belief" since 1982.

  • December 10, 2009
    Fast-Growing Christian Churches Crushed in China (AP)

  • April 11, 2011
    Chinese police detain members of unregistered church
    (LA Times)

  • October 29, 2011
    Are China’s Rulers Getting Religion?
    (NYR Blog)

    Edit date: 7/15/14