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Limitations on religious freedom will intensify in China

Chinese authorities are planning to extend control of religious gatherings and events. Every such kind of meeting will have to be registered officially with the state.


The restrictions are intended to “tackle religious extremism” and to “prevent the use of faith to undermine China’s national or ethnic cohesion.” As CNN points out, the reform proposals respond to Xi Jinping’s call for “sanitisation” of religion.

In China, there are five official religions recognised by the state (Chinese Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism, Protestantism and Islam) supervised by official organisations.

For a long time, the Catholic Church in China was divided into official (recognised by the state but not by the Vatican) and underground (not recognised by the authorities but in communion with the Papacy). However, in 2018, the Vatican made a provisional agreement with China, making some concessions on the official Church. This agreement aroused controversy among conservative Catholics.

In October, the agreement was extended for another two years. However, there has been a recent scuffle in the Vatican-China relationship. Pope Francis, in a recently published book, found the Uighur minority living in China as persecuted. This was met with strong criticism from a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


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