Source: Islamic Association of China
Date: June 4, 2018
The website of the Islamic Association of China reported about the 5th Joint Meeting of the National Religious Groups, held in Beijing on May 31. The theme of the meeting was, “studying the Amendments to the Constitution, promoting the spirit of the Constitution, strengthening the awareness of the Constitution, safeguarding the authority of the Constitution, and promoting the implementation of the Constitution.” Wang Zuo’an, Deputy Minister of the Chinese United Front Work Department and Director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, attended the meeting and delivered a speech. The Chairman of the Buddhist Association of China, Xuecheng, the Chairman of the Chinese Taoist Association Li Guangfu, the President of the Islamic Association of China Yang Faming, the Chairman of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association Fang Xingyao, the President of the Chinese Christian Association, Gao Feng, and others, were in attendance, representing the five religious bodies recognized by the government, the only authorized religions in China.
The new Constitution of China abolishes presidential and vice presidential term limits, enshrines the personality cult of President Xi Jinping, secures his role as president for life, and in general tightens the control of the Communist Party on Chinese society. Virtually all independent observers judged the new Constitution dangerous for religious liberty and leading to an even stricter control of religious bodies in China. Under the leadership of Xi Jinping, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) intensifies its suppression of religions and its suppressive measures against religions in every area of society. The leaders of the “official” religions, however, applauded the new Constitution and, according to the report, “stressed that national religious groups in China must sincerely support the Party’s leadership, consciously accept the Party’s leadership, and firmly safeguard the Party’s leadership, taking these as an indispensable requirement and conscious action for respecting the Constitution. […] It is necessary to strengthen the awareness of the Constitution, respect the status of the Constitution, safeguard the authority of the Constitution through studying and implementing the Constitution, and thus to unite closely people from religious circles and religious believers around the CCP Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as its core and contribute to the realization of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”
This seemingly paradoxical phenomenon is actually not rare in China. In the words of the NGO Freedom House, “The corporatist ‘patriotic’ associations affiliated with each of the five officially recognized religions form the foundation of the CCP’s institutional controls. … Religious leaders affiliated with the patriotic associations are often called upon to serve as spokespeople for the party’s policies or even assist in legitimizing persecutory campaigns against other believers.”