China Reform Monitor - No. 1314

Dissension in the (media) ranks;
China's government takes aim at churches

February 1, 2018

January 6:

An editor at the official Global Times, Hu Xijin, has made a Sina Weibo posting complaining about the government suppressing freedom of the press. Hu wrote: "Currently there is an increasing number of local departments exert pressure on propaganda units, and that the propaganda units notify media outlets of what to or not to report. Can a nation become strong if the media environment is weak?" Hu then wrote that he hoped Sina Weibo will not remove this posting, but after it was forwarded and commented over thousand times it was removed,
the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

January 10:

The People's Armed Police (PAP) has demolished one of China's largest evangelical churches where more than 50,000 Christians had worshipped. The state paramilitary police force used heavy machinery to raze the Golden Lampstand Church in Linfen, Shanxi, and detonated explosives its underground sanctuary. The church's destruction was part of a "citywide campaign to remove illegal buildings,"
the official Global Times reports. The building was built by married evangelists Wang Xiaoguang and Yang Rongli with nearly $3 million in contributions from local Christians and land donated by a local Christian farmer. Members of the megachurch had clashed with the authorities in 2009 when the police confiscated Bibles and imprisoned the congregation's leaders, the New York Times reports.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: On December 27, the authorities had similarly demolished a Catholic church in Shaanxi Province, destroying an altar and confiscating vestments, More than 60 million Christians live in China, at least half of whom worship in unregistered churches to avoid persecution.]

January 11:

On January 1, control over the PAP, the CPC's paramilitary police force primarily responsible for suppressing dissent, was removed from the joint command of the Central Military Commission (CMC) and the State Council and placed under the sole command of the CMC and its leader Chairman Xi.
The official PLA Daily wrote: "The nature of the PAP's fundamental duties have not changed since the adjustment. The entire armed forces, especially the armed police force, must bear in mind President Xi's instructions, firmly obey the Party's command; fully implement Xi Jinping's idea of a strong army." Xi declared the change to the PAP leadership is "an important political decision" to ensure the absolute leadership of the Party over all armed forces. "The armed police force plays an important role in safeguarding political security, especially the security of the political power and system," Xi said in comments carried by the official Xinhua news agency.

January 12:

Led by the Communist Party of Nepal, Kathmandu's new, China-friendly government is keen to construct a 4.2 km road tunnel that will shorten travel time to 2.5 hours from Kathmandu to Rasuwagadhi – the border crossing into China. The Nepali government has already approached the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank for support in funding the project. China is also funneling aid to 31,800 households in Nepal's Terai region, which was hit by floods last August, through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP),
the Hindu reports.

January 13:

Chairman Xi's signature anti-corruption campaign will be combined with the fight against criminal gangs. The "protection umbrella" behind the gangs will be removed, according to a communique issued at second plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI). Chairman Xi headlined the session, which "pledged to build a supervisory network over all state functionaries." The CCDI will continue to dispatch inspection teams regularly and on specific missions to tighten Party political discipline. "More will be done to curb formalities for formalities' sake and bureaucracy. Those who are active only in words rather than deeds will be held accountable. The two-faced ones, who are disloyal and dishonest to the Party, who comply in pubic but oppose in private, should be firmly excluded,"
said the CCDI communique

Related Categories: China; China and East Asia Program

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