Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Believers Continue to Face Tough Restrictions

BEIJING, MARCH 20, 2005 (Zenit) - On March 1 a new law governing religious freedom entered into force in China. According to human rights groups the new regulations promise little improvement for believers who do not wish to follow the official government policy. In fact, the government in recent months seems determined to keep a firm control over religious activities.

A Jan. 17 analysis of the new law by the U.S.-based rights group Compass Direct noted that the "Religious Affairs Provisions" were hailed by the government-run New China News Agency as "a significant step forward in the protection of Chinese citizens' religious freedom."

But a close look at the provisions of the new law reveals that, apart from minor modifications, very little is different. Some of the new regulations, in fact, are even more restrictive than the ones they replace, observed Compass Direct.

The guiding principle of the law is contained in Article 3: "Religious bodies, religious venues and believers must uphold the constitution, laws and regulations to safeguard national unity, harmony between the national minorities, and social stability." The same article also explains that the state will protect normal religious activities. But what is "normal" is never defined, leaving such a judgment completely in the hands of authorities.

Registration of religious groups is still required and restrictions on publishing religious material continue. And for those believers who participate in organizations that do not have official approval the regulations contain severe measures, including heavy fines and the confiscation of property.

The improvements include a safeguarding of property rights, but only of those religious groups with official registration. Recognized organizations are now allowed to set up social service projects, such as schools and clinics.

The law also maintains China's determination to prohibit overseas contacts. The regulations ban the unofficial organization of overseas pilgrimages, a measure aimed at the more than 20 million Muslims who may wish to travel to Mecca, according to Compass Direct.

In its Jan. 18 analysis of the new law, the Norway-based rights group F18 observed that the regulations maintain the requirement that Chinese religious organizations should function independent of "foreign forces." This places severe strains on Catholics in China, since it means "they must either sever all ties with the Vatican or seek papal recognition privately," F18 noted.

Another organization, Human Rights in China, published its analysis of the new law last Monday. The group, founded by Chinese scientists and scholars, affirmed that "the Chinese central government has again drafted a document not to protect, but to regulate all religious activities."

The organization also noted that the regulations are framed in such a way to leave the door open to arbitrary interpretation and implementation. Overall the group judged that "the premise for the Chinese government to adopt this new set of regulations is not based on the desire to make freedom of religion available to its citizens, but is motivated by its overarching need to regulate freedom of association in the name of national security and public order."

Persecution continues

Recent events show the government's determination to keep a firm control over religious activities. BBC last Nov. 9 reported on Peter Xu Yongze and his encounter with torture in prison. "They hung me up across an iron gate," he told BBC, "then they yanked open the gate and my whole body lifted until my chest nearly split in two. I hung like that for four hours." A evangelical Protestant and leader of a large group, Xu, who now lives in the United States, was imprisoned on five occasions.

Wilfred Wong, a parliamentary officer for the interdenominational lobby group Jubilee Campaign, told BBC that in spite of difficulties the number of Christians in China has continued to rise. But, he added, "China's new generation of leaders are trying to consolidate control of the country as it goes through rapid social and economic changes."

Two days later, the Washington Times reported that government officials arrested a Protestant minister. Cai Zhuohua, a minister to six unofficial congregations, was detained in Beijing last September, according to the China Aid Association.

The association said that Cai, his wife, and other members of the family were being held at the Qinghe detention center in Beijing. His arrest came after authorities discovered 200,000 Bibles and other Christian literature in a warehouse under his control.

On Dec. 19 the London-based Telegraph newspaper published an article based on an interview with one of the unofficial Catholic bishops in China, Julius Jia. The bishop has been detained by authorities on more than 30 occasions and overall has spent more than 20 years in jail.

Bishop Jia, 69, is based in Hebei province, in northern China, home to an estimated 1.5 million Catholics. Here, according to the Telegraph, divisions between the government-backed Catholic patriotic church and the underground Church are sharper than anywhere else in the country. The government has placed the bishop under house arrest near Wuqiu. But he frequently circumvents the order by going out to say Mass, often hiding in the back of a car, according to the Telegraph.

Hard-line policy

Amnesty International, in a report Dec. 21, also noted that Beijing was continuing its hard-line policy against believers. AI commented that the official China Daily had referred to the new law as "a significant step forward in the protection of Chinese citizens' religious freedoms."

However, this is in contrast to official actions AI observed, citing the Dec. 1 arrest of church leader Zhang Rongliang in Henan province. The leader has already been imprisoned five times for his beliefs, for a total of 12 years, during which he was severely tortured, declared AI. The police also raided at least three unofficial "house" churches in nearby Fangcheng county, around the time they detained Zhang.

Action against these unofficial churches has been common. The AI press release noted that in July 2003 more than a dozen house churches were reportedly destroyed and at least 300 Christians arrested, some ill-treated and beaten. Moreover, "the new regulations do nothing to reduce the restrictions on underground churches or the persecution that accompany them," AI said.

More recent news came in an article published Feb. 15 by the Christian Post. During a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., members of underground house churches in China detailed the increasing persecution and torture of Christians.

Among those who gave their accounts was Liu Xianzhi, a member of the South China Church who was arrested in 2001. Liu recounted her experience of torture, abuse and arbitrary imprisonment by police.

The article also noted that the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention stated that China's arbitrary detentions are a violation of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights.

On March 10 the group Human Rights Watch issued a declaration calling on the U.N. Commission on Human Rights to condemn China during its current annual meeting in Geneva.

In addition to violations of political rights and ill treatment of racial minorities, Human Rights Watch cited worries over the new law governing religious expression that took effect March 1. The requirements placed on organizations by the regulations "are vaguely worded, allowing authorities extraordinary leeway to shut institutions, levy fines, dismiss personnel and censor texts," said Human Rights Watch. Religious tolerance in China remains elusive.

Contact

Catholic Online
http://www.catholic.org CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000

Email

info@yourcatholicvoice.org

Keywords

China, Religion, Freedom, Life, Law

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 250 of 4,719

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity
DAN SHEA

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Priestly Identity: Crisis and Renewal (Part 1)
Catholic Online

Al Qaeda...afraid of Benedict's message!
Hugh McNichol

Benedict XVI...calling all to hope...
Hugh McNichol

Perfect Women
Cheryl Dickow

Papal Palm Sunday Address - 'Enough With the Bloodshed'
Catholic Online

Spotlight on China
Catholic Online

Papal Homily for Palm Sunday
Catholic Online

Holy Week...Holy Time!
Hugh McNichol

Mary and Motherhood
Cheryl Dickow

The Void
Paul Sposite

Islamic violence wounds the global community!
Hugh McNichol

The Seven New Deadly Sins!
Hugh McNichol

Catholic benefits include Catholic principles!
Hugh McNichol

Remembering Father Alfred Kunz
Matt C. Abbott

David vs Goliath
Theresa Lisiecki

Happy Lent!
Paul Sposite

Diplomacy...Vatican style!
Hugh McNichol

Sub umbra Petri! (Under the Shadow of Saint Peter)
Hugh McNichol

Cuba...a neonascent Church!
Hugh McNichol

Kids in Conflict
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On the Writings of St. Augustine
Catholic Online

The Relevance of Lourdes at 150
Catholic Online

Hillary...what would Saint Norbert say!
Hugh McNichol

Lent...questions, answers and involvement!
Hugh McNichol

Mary, Mother of all Humanity, Hic et Nunc!
Hugh McNichol

Catholics...WAKE UP!
Hugh McNichol

Catholic Brotherhood with the People of the Covenant
Hugh McNichol

Have mercy on us O Lord! - Ash Wednesday
Hugh McNichol

Vote early, vote Catholic!
Hugh McNichol

Christ, our global Alpha and Omega!
Hugh McNichol

Being Catholic means...total affirmation of being Catholic!
Hugh McNichol

Seeing the World through New Eyes
Sarah Reinhard

Emulating the Angelic Doctor!
Hugh McNichol

Priests defend, commend Archbishop Raymond Burke
Matt C. Abbott

Saint Paul...a continued example of radical conversion!
Hugh McNichol

A renaissance of faith, reason and global cooperation....
Hugh McNichol

Cardinal Rigali's Homily at Life Vigil
Catholic Online

Angelus: On Christian Unity
Catholic Online

Silencing the Pope
Catholic Online

Papal Homily on Feast of Christ's Baptism
Catholic Online

Education and Gender
Catholic Online

The ignominy of Roe vs. Wade
Hugh McNichol

Papal Message for World Day of the Sick
Catholic Online

Angelus: On Christian Unity
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Planned Lecture at La Sapienza
Catholic Online

Pope's Letter to Jesuits' 35th General Congregation
Catholic Online

Fr. Cantalamessa - Behold, the Lamb of God!
Catholic Online

That We May Be One, and Never Lose Heart
Catholic Online

Sowing Hope in Sierra Leone
Catholic Online

God-incidences are the gift of kairos moments
Mary Regina Morrell

St. Augustine's Last Days
Catholic Online

Liturgy: When There's a Medical Emergency
Catholic Online

Marriage and Celibacy: Love's Link
Catholic Online

Developing a Global Catholic Awareness
Hugh McNichol

Rooms in My Father's House
Cheryl Dickow

Resolutions for New Year 2008
Chris Anthony

Keep teaching Holy Father!!!
Hugh McNichol

Dangers of anti-Catholic academic extremism....
Hugh McNichol

The liturgy war
Matt C. Abbott

Some Answers to a Few Common Questions about Vocations
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Developing a Global Catholic Awareness
Hugh McNichol

Christmas reflections
Chris Anthony

The Lasting Contribution of The Servant of God Pope John Paul II
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

No more bobble-head Jesus'!
Hugh McNichol

Pope's Address to Baptist World Alliance
Catholic Online

The Virgin Without Sin
Catholic Online

Cardinal Vingt-Trois on His New Mission
Catholic Online

Archbishop Forte on Religion & Freedom: Part 1
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Chromatius of Aquileia, Pope, Benedict
Catholic Online

Pope's Address for Consistory of Cardinals
Catholic Online

Trafficking in Lives
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict - On Hope
Catholic Online

The Hidden Costs of Gambling
Catholic Online

A Vital, Life-Giving Message
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Christianity's Contribution
Catholic Online

Youth and Fashion's Modest Twist
Catholic Online

Papal Homily at the Consistory
Catholic Online

Love, Marriage and Happy Kids
Catholic Online

The Virtue of Obedience: Our Duty, Our Crown
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Vere dignum et justum est!
Hugh McNichol

Pope's Address to Bishops of Kenya
Catholic Online

Democracy in Danger in Venezuela
Catholic Online

The Life-Sapping Human Virus
Catholic Online

'You Alone Are The Lord': A Brief Summary of Catholic Teaching
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Sacred Time...Come Lord Jesus!
Hugh McNichol

How Christ-like are we in our lives?
Chris Anthony

A Retreat for Today's Christian Woman
Cheryl Dickow

Pope Benedict - On Trust in God
Catholic Online

God and Caesar Seen From Down Under
Catholic Online

Praying the Luminous Mysteries for our Clergy
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Culture's Pressure on Our Girls
Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle

Papal Message on the Common Good
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - St. Jerome on the Bible
Catholic Online

What Every Parent Should Know About 'The Golden Compass'
Catholic Online

Cardinal Poupard on 'Populorum Progressio'
Catholic Online

A Richer Liturgical Translation: Interview With Bishop Roche
Catholic Online

U.S. Bishops' Statement on War in Iraq
Catholic Online

The 'Golden Compass' is no treasure for children
Mary Regina Morrell

Bishop Skylstad's Address to U.S. Bishops' Fall Meeting
Catholic Online

Rewarding Failure
Catholic Online

On St. Martin of Tours
Catholic Online

Undermining Parents
Catholic Online

God...our theological E.F.Hutton!
Hugh McNichol

The Secular Vs. Religion?
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Jerome
Catholic Online

The Scourge of Poverty
Catholic Online

Sons and Daughters of God...EQUALLY!
Hugh McNichol

On Zacchaeus the Tax Collector
Catholic Online

Why Dads Matter
Catholic Online

Archbishop Chaput on Citizenship and Evangelization
Catholic Online

God Created Man for Life, Not Death
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for November
Catholic Online

Imposing 'Tolerance'
Catholic Online

A Turn to the Fathers: Interview With Father Robert Dodaro
Catholic Online

Evangelizing a Digital World
Catholic Online

Women Religious on Human Trafficking
Catholic Online

John Crosby on Von Hildebrand's Understanding of the Person
Catholic Online

Chicago law firm fights for civil rights, against death culture
Matt C. Abbott

On the Call to Martyrdom
Catholic Online

Media Benefits and Dangers
Catholic Online

Fr. Cantalamessa - The Pharisee and the Publican
Catholic Online

Aborting Viable Lives
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Ambrose of Milan
Catholic Online

'You Alone Are The Lord': A Brief Summary of Catholic Teaching
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Prostitution: Legal Work or Slavery?
Catholic Online

Address of Holy See on Religious Liberty
Catholic Online

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin on 'Populorum Progressio'
Catholic Online

Escaping Poverty: Interview With Archbishop Silvano Tomasi
Catholic Online

Christ's Parable About the Need to Pray Always
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Eusebius of Vercelli
Catholic Online

Recovering subtle signs of our Catholic Identity!
Hugh McNichol

On Peace, Missions and Justice
Catholic Online

Congratulations to His Eminence John Cardinal Foley!
Hugh McNichol

Giving Ourselves Completely to Mary
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

The 'Courage' to go 'Beyond Gay'
Matt C. Abbott

When Bioethics Turned Secular
Catholic Online

Confession Comeback
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On Hilary of Poitiers
Catholic Online

Reemergence of Global Catholic Identity!
Hugh McNichol

Father Cantalamessa on the Leap of Faith
Catholic Online

Month of the Rosary
Catholic Online

Why Technology Needs Ethics
Catholic Online

Cardinal Lozano Barragán on Future of Health Care
Catholic Online

How Can Catholics Understand Mary as Co-Redemprix, Mediatrix of All Graces and Advocate?
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

New Saint Book is Visually Stunning and Filled with Detail
Lisa M. Hendey

Papal Homily in Velletri
Catholic Online

Wednesday'a Audience - On St. Cyril of Alexandria
Catholic Online

Father Cantalamessa Analyzes Relationship
Catholic Online

Holy See Address to U.N. General Assembly
Catholic Online

Homily From Red Mass in Washington
Catholic Online

Pope Remembers Cardinal Van Thuân
Catholic Online

The brave monks of Myanmar
Chris Anthony

Faith in Politics
Catholic Online

On Lazarus and World Hunger
Catholic Online

Fighting the Good Fight: Resisting Temptation
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Media frenzy buries U.N. goals

Holy See Statement on Climate Change
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On Chrysostom's Social Doctrine
Catholic Online

China's Seven Sorrows
Catholic Online

Vatican Message to Muslims for Ramadan
Catholic Online

Father Cantalamessa on the First World and Lazarus
Catholic Online

Angels, God's Messengers in a world of fragile peace and Broken promises!
Hugh McNichol

Memo to Mrs. Clinton: Why Not Baby Bonds When Life Begins?
Deacon Keith Fournier

Reorienting the Mass
Catholic Online

Report Card on Religious Freedom
Catholic Online

On Wealth and Poverty
Catholic Online

A Response to Hitchens' 'God Is Not Great'
Catholic Online

Vetoing children's health care?

The ideal family
Joseph Sinasac

Who does the judging?
Dennis Heaney

One mistake away

The Big House ban

In praise of the parish

Text of the USCCB statement for Respect Life Sunday 2007

The Outstanding Purity of Our Blessed Mother
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Educated flock

Religion and politics

Facing a door to the future
Dennis Heaney

A long debate

Who Are the True Progressives?
Deacon Keith Fournier

Petraeus offers a dose of reality

Insurgence
Robert Storr

Papal Address at Vespers
Catholic Online

Papal Coat of Arms Still Relevant
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Address at Heiligenkreuz Abbey
Catholic Online

On Loving Jesus as Mary Did
Catholic Online

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos on 'Summorum Pontificum'
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On the Trip to Austria
Catholic Online

Father Cantalamessa on the Joy of Fatherhood
Catholic Online

Commentary on Artificial Hydration and Nutrition
Catholic Online

Vatican on Nutrition to Patients in Vegetative State
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Q-and-A Session With Youth in Loreto
Catholic Online

Take a Risk, Follow Your Call: the challenge of a lifetime!
Sisters of Bon Secours

Papal lessons

Family matters

Lessons from a tragedy
Dennis Heaney

Shopping blues
Joseph Sinasac

Marriage Breakdown: Expensive and Divisive
Catholic Online

Her darkness was a warning

The Light of Mother Teresa's Darkness - Part 2
Catholic Online

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • A Prayer for the Departed HD Video
  • Sister Cecilia Maria's smile stuns
  • 'Stop shying away from death': Researchers claim dying patients ...
  • Fatima Morning Offering HD Video
  • St. Peter: Saint of the Day for Wednesday, June 29, 2016
  • Daily Readings for Wednesday, June 29, 2016
  • 'Your goodness is a place where I feel protected': Pope Francis ...

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Amos 3:1-8; 4:11-12
1 Listen, Israelites, to this prophecy which Yahweh pronounces against ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 5:4-6, 6-7, 8
4 You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil, no sinner can be your ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 8:23-27
23 Then he got into the boat followed by his disciples.24 ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for June 28th, 2016 Image

St. Irenaeus
June 28: The writings of St. Irenaeus entitle him to a ... Read More