The authorities have been investigating the religious beliefs of military personnel, and are seeking to ensure that their number is reduced to “zero.”
Chinese officials instructed a military unit in China’s eastern Shandong province to investigate the religious status of all military personnel, according to an insider. The notice included strict instructions to check and register each individual, including those omitted from previous investigations, such as new recruits, retirees, or those on vacation or hospitalized. All results of the probe will be entered into the “military personnel religious status registration system.”
According to a confidential document provided by the insider, the investigation was prompted by instructions from Xi Jinping regarding the maintenance of political security. By investigating religious beliefs of military personnel, the government seeks “to resist political infiltration, prevent political sabotage, and purify the political ecosystem.”
The document also demands that the authorities combine “political assessments” and regular “ideological investigations,” describing both as elements of comprehensive “political health examinations.” The insider also revealed that in March 2019, local troops might have to carry out a two-week “loyalty test,” which will include lie detector tests, to investigate and prevent insider leaks.
In September 2018, Chinese media reported that the CCP Military Commission ordered an investigation into retired military officers’ participation in religious organizations. Every inactive or retired military officer must fill out the Military Personnel Religious Status Registration Form and must promise not to participate in any religious organization.
At the same time, the political reviews of new recruits by each local military unit have become increasingly stringent.
In a case from May 2018, a person who applied to become a naval pilot was disqualified from admission because his aunt believed in Falun Gong, even though he met all other conditions for recruitment.
Another military insider revealed, “In response to changes to the family situation of pilots, personnel who have passed the political review will be subject to another one within three years. A specially designated person is in charge of conducting interviews with the families of every active-duty or reserve pilot, and will go to the local police station to learn about the situation. If the individual or any of their relatives within three generations is a petitioner, a sentenced person, or a xie jiao participant, their qualifications to serve as a pilot will be revoked.” The term “petitioner” refers to those who exercise the ancient right from Imperial China to petition the central authorities for redress of grievances.
In December 2018, an applicant for a position at a military hospital in Shanghai, who earned a master’s degree from Southern Medical University, was hired because of his excellent academic performance. However, during the final political review, he was rejected because of his Christian beliefs. One staff member said: “In military districts, people are only allowed to believe in the Communist Party and Marxism. Only by writing a statement renouncing his faith and filling in the form with ‘no faith’ can he take up the position.” Our sources say this is the second time this person was deprived of an employment opportunity because he openly professed Christian beliefs; he had also been unable to join the military after completing his undergraduate studies.
Reported by Yang Xiangwen