Imagine the outcry in Australia, America or elsewhere in the West if the state mandated the licensing of religions and their clergy and prescribed that they must support the government and adhere to the principles of the state administration. This is what the Chinese communist regime has mandated.
In the ‘State Administration of Religious Affairs’ order made on 8 January and due to take effect on 1 May, the communist government established a system for the registration of clergy of five authorised religions. The authorised religions are Protestant Christianity, Catholicism, Buddhism, Islam and Taoism. Anyone else claiming to be clergy can be criminally prosecuted.
Article III of the order provides that, Religious clergy should love the motherland, support the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, support the socialist system, abide by the Constitution, laws, regulations and rules, practice the core values of socialism, adhere to the principles of independent and self-administered religion in China, adhere to the direction of the Sinicization of religion in China, operate to maintain national unity, religious harmony and social stability.
Religious clergy are also directed to ‘safeguard the national interest’ and ‘follow the instructions of the religious affairs departments’. They are required to be registered by the state and allocated a special twelve-digit identification code. Criminal penalties apply to persons who are not registered but are found to be acting as clergy, such as those ministering to home and underground churches, as well as non-recognised religions including Judaism. Known as xie jiao, the followers of unauthorised religious groups are routinely sentenced to labour camps and prison where torture is commonplace.
In what appears a clear rejection of the secret agreement the Vatican entered into with the CCP, the order requires the ‘democratic election’ of a bishop. While the relevant article also refers to approval by the Chinese Catholic Bishops’ Conference, this body is effectively subject to CCP control.There is no mention of the Vatican at all! So much for the naive trust in totalitarian regimes by the Vatican diplomats.
If the failure of concordats with dictatorial regimes in the past was not lesson enough, the CCP treatment of Tibetan Buddhists should have been a clear warning.
In May 1995, just three days after the six-year-old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was named the 11th Panchen Lama – the successor of the Dalai Lama – as spiritual head of the Geluk School of Tibetan Buddhism, he and his family were kidnapped by the regime, not to be seen since. Instead, the regime organised its own replacement Panchen Lama, the six-year- old Gyaincain Norbu. A decade later, in 2007, the regime issued another decree for the administration of the succession of the Dalai Lama. The usurpation is reinforced in the latest decree, which asserts that ‘Tibetan Buddhism’s succession of living Buddhas should be regulated in accordance with the “Regulations on Religious Affairs”, the “Tibetan Buddhism Reincarnation Management Measures”, and other relevant provisions.’
Leaving aside the irony of the atheistic communist regime determining the process for the reincarnation of the Lama, these events should have been a warning to other religions, especially those with a hierarchical structure not beholden to Beijing.
The regime’s disregard for human rights has also been on display in Hong Kong again, where nine pro-democracy advocates went on trial for organising unlawful assemblies. Amongst them was Martin Lee, the 82-year-old barrister, and advocate of non-violence, who had once been utilised by the regime to draft the island’s constitution. In a bid to crush all dissent, Lee and other democrats, including the 73-year-old Margaret Ng, another barrister and former opposition MP, have been put on trial. Similarly one of the remaining voices of a free media, Jimmy Lai, has been held in custody by the communist authorities. He is joined by the Australian journalist, Cheng Lei, detained on suspicion of sharing state secrets. No foreigner is immune from arbitrary arrest in China today.
One can only wonder what the new US President had in mind when he said last week, ‘I’m not going to speak out against what he (Xi Jinping) is doing in Hong Kong, what he is doing with the Uyghurs in the western mountains of China and Taiwan and the one China policy… he said (Xi) gets it culturally there are different norms in each country.’ Obtuse, confused or actually a revelation that President Biden has no interest in standing up globally for freedom, liberty and universal human rights? Biden seemed to dismiss Xi’s appalling human rights record when he said, ‘So… the central principle of Xi Jinping is that there must be a united, tightly controlled China. And he uses his rationale for the things he does based on that.’
Less obtuse were the comments of the Chinese Consul-General in Victoria, Long Zhou, who lectured us that Australia should ‘truly uphold the principles of mutual respect and equal treatment’. Tell that to the Uyghurs, the Buddhists, the Christians, the Tibetans, and the Hong Kongers who are the victims of Xi Jinping’s brutal totalitarian regime.
Zhou is one of the Communist functionaries across the globe who regularly hector their hosts about their alleged disrespect for China. Their bullying tactics have drawn increasing disdain from a world that has had the scales on its eyes removed by China’s continuing cover-up of the origins of Covid-19. The CCP is being seen for what it is: an internally regressive and externally aggressive regime that has no respect for international norms and human rights.
Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.
You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10