The Imperial Temptation of Xi Jinping

Source: FSSPX News

On January 1, 2024, a new law on “Patriotic Education” went into effect on Chinese soil. The leaders of the different authorized religions in China were convened to be informed that the application of the law rests on the principle that “the state is greater than religion, and the state law is greater than religious rules.”

The Year of the Dragon began on February 10, but the one who now governs Chinese destinies did not wait until then to write the law on Patriotic Education approved on October 24, 2023, by the 14th Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress: a law that went into effect on January 1, 2024, and which aims to reorganize and reinforce the internal propaganda of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

This is a law that religions are going to have to try to apply with the greatest care, and to ensure this, the master of Beijing convened, on January 4, 2024, the 25th meeting of the National Joint Conference of Religious Groups.

At the end of a closed session from which nothing was leaked, the five religions authorized on Chinese soil--Catholicism, Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, and part of Protestantism--published five guidelines for their faithful which consist of an unconditional capitulation of religion to the socialist State, with a Chinese flavor.

“Adhere to principles of patriotism, love for the party and love for socialism,” states the first commandment of the Sinicized religion. To make the message clear, Chinese authorities comment: “Our country’s religious circles must learn, think, and practice Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.” 

“Adhere to and carry forward the fine tradition of patriotism,” recommends the second guideline published by the Conference of Religious Groups, which does not shrink from explaining that in Catholicism, “’patriotism is a commandment of God.’” While remembering that the patriotism mentioned consists of “the unity [...] of our country’s religious circles under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.”

“Persist in filling up our country’s religion with excellent traditional Chinese culture.” The third directive aiming to apply the law on patriotic education develops the idea of an accelerated inculturation of religion into Chinese customs and traditions, even if it means totally diluting its essence.

The fourth directive is not reassuring for Chinese Catholics: “Continue to carry out patriotic education and practice patriotic activities,” the religious leaders subservient to the CCP ask. By this is intended a teaching enriched by “the history of the Party, the history of the New China, [...] the history of socialist development.”

As for the last axis, it demands neither more nor less than a form of autocephaly for the Church: “strengthen the self-construction of religious groups,” it is demanded, which amounts, in the eyes of the Communists, to “guide religious clergy and religious believers to firmly establish the awareness that the state is greater than religion, the state law is greater than religious rules.”

In an ironic twist of fate, these new rules come a few months before the re-negotiation of the provisional agreement concluded between China and the Holy See in September 2018, a secret agreement meant to put an end to the schism of an episcopate appointed without the agreement of Rome, and which is de facto asked to profess a clearly schismatic doctrine.

Could this be a way for Beijing to announce that the agreement will not be renewed in September and consequently, definitively abandoned? If the Chinese Communists wanted to send this message, they could not have done it better.