China Reform Monitor - No. 1326

Chinese Christians take aim at the Vatican;
Monitoring China

May 4, 2018

April 18:

Hong Kong’s Cardinal Joseph Zen is joining conservative Roman Catholics to oppose the Vatican’s rapprochement with Beijing,
Reuters reports. China and the Vatican have been working on an accord on the appointment of bishops, which could lead to diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Beijing. In his message to a conference on the limits of papal authority in Rome, Zen lamented that the Vatican’s lack of communication with China’s estimated 12 million Catholics means their voices are being ignored. Conservative cardinals accuse Pope Francis of heresy for his efforts to expand relations with Beijing. Zen, who has accused the Vatican of “selling out” to Beijing, told the conference: “We fear that the center will make decisions that really are not useful for the real growth of the Church. If you want to help the Church in China, you have to know it. Knowledge cannot be simply abstract or based on numbers or books. One has to have lived it.” Chinese Catholics are split between those who attend sanctioned churches run by government-approved bishops and illegal “underground” churches that are loyal to the Vatican.

April 10:

It was announced last month that religious affairs are now under the control of the United Front Work Department, which is in charge of coopting non-party groups to support its interests. New rules on religious affairs introduced in February have raised official oversight of religious education and introduced harsher punishments for unsanctioned practices,
Reuters reports. This week, authorities in Yichuan, Henan tore down several “illegal” crosses on churches. “The parishes were illegally built without permission from the government, so we demolished their crosses. Activities in the illegally built parishes will be prohibited,” said a religious affairs official. Meanwhile, authorities in Anyang, Henan are requiring all religious believers to formally register.

April 13:

Changsha, Hunan is testing facial recognition at public toilets as part of the nationwide “toilet revolution.” Each person scanning their face received 40cm of toilet paper from a dispenser, with the aim of stopping each user from taking too much. Sensors in toilet cubicles will also issue an alert an attendant if somebody has been inside for more than 10 minutes. The toilets also provide free Wi-fi and mobile phone chargers, and a screen shows the temperature, humidity, total volume of water and electricity consumed, and how long each cubicle has been occupied. About 30 public toilets in Chongqing have also been fitted with toilet paper dispensers that provided 80cm of paper when a user scanned a code with their mobile phone, and the plan is to expand the technology to 150 toilets. President Xi Jinping said in November that to help improve living standards public toilets throughout China should be upgraded. In 2015, China started a three-year campaign to improve public toilets at tourist sites,
South China Morning Post reports.

April 15:

China has issued revised regulations governing the PLA which stress “Xi Jinping thought” as a means to strengthen the armed forces. The regulations included rules on military discipline, training management, weight standards for soldiers, the use of mobile phones and the internet, as well as the use of live-fire salutes to pay respect to martyrs. The revised regulations require military personnel to register their name, title, phone number, phone model, WeChat account and QQ account with their units in order to use their mobile phones,
the official Global Times reports.

April 16:

Reverend John Sanqiang Cao has been sentenced to seven years in prison for “organizing others to illegally cross the border,”
the Associated Press reports
. Cao’s crime was organizing about fifty Chinese Christian teachers to cross from Yunnan into Myanmar on a bamboo raft bringing notebooks, pencils and Bibles. Cao’s punishment is part of Beijing effort to “sinicize” the country’s religions, eliminate “foreign influence” and align faiths more closely with Communist Party doctrine. Cao’s harsh sentence reflects the tightening environment under Xi Jinping against religious independence. Past crackdowns were on the activities of foreign missionaries inside China, but that has now expanded to include Chinese missionaries going overseas. According to new religious regulations, Chinese nationals who leave the country for religious purposes without government authorization could be fined up to 200,000 yuan ($31,780). Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), who chairs a House subcommittee on human rights, said that “Pastor Cao’s name should be on President Trump’s lips whenever he talks to Xi Jinping.”

Related Categories: China; China and East Asia Program

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