China: The Online Fight Against Religion Intensifies

January 06, 2022

In his reaffirmed desire to “Sinicize” religions, that is, to force them to integrate Chinese characteristics into their beliefs and practices, the Chinese Head of State has decided to establish a “digital pass” for distributors of religious content.

Since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) decided last November to leave the way open to Xi Jinping, who will be able to retain his place as president at the 20th Congress scheduled for 2022, and even beyond, the red dragon is feeling its wings growing, even on the Internet.

From now on, all religious content uploaded in the Middle Kingdom from abroad will be systematically censored. This measure is due to take effect beginning March 1, 2022.

“Foreign organizations or persons and organizations created by foreigners are not allowed to operate an online religious news service in China,” the Global Times news site, owned by the CCP, reported on December 21.

In China, online religious content from abroad “incites the subversion of state power, violates the principle of independence and self-management, and pushes minors to believe in religion,” the Global Times specifies: the sinicization of religions, especially Catholic, is still a reality in China.

Thus, in the name of the “principle of democratic control of religions” recalled in December 2021 by the master of Beijing, Christmas is considered a “Western threat” for Chinese culture, and the broadcast of the Mass at Saint Peter's in Rome becomes an attack on the security of the State.

This is why the authorities in the Rongan District (Guangxi Province) banned Christmas celebrations in local schools on December 25, 2021. The reason? As a “western holiday,” Christmas is a threat to Chinese national culture.

Local CCP officials are indeed concerned about the “proliferation in recent years of events related to the Silent Night,” a phrase that refers to the Midnight Mass.

Also, teachers have been “urged to work to uphold Chinese tradition,” while all citizens are encouraged to report Christmas celebrations to the police.

But that's not all. Any individual or Chinese organization seeking to disseminate religious content online will now need to be authorized to do so in advance: in other words, it is simply a matter of establishing a “digital pass” for religious activities.

According to the Communist authorities, this measure intends to “guarantee the freedom of belief of citizens” against those who “use religion to carry out activities on the internet that endanger national security.”

This is a fallacy that would make one smile if the first to suffer from these measures were not the faithful Catholics, a minority in China - estimated, at the end of 2015, at 10.5 million, or 0.77% of the population.