Arrest quotas, monetary bonuses, fines, other “stick and carrot” methods are widely used to encourage officials and police officers to suppress people of faith.
by Shen Xiang
Bitter Winter has obtained a document, entitled Reward and Punishment Measures of the Public Security Bureau for Key Work to Combat Xie Jiao for 2019, issued by a locality, intended to incite law enforcement officers to arrest believers, primarily, members of Falun Gong and The Church of Almighty God (CAG). Both groups are on the list of the xie jiao; being active in one of them is punishable with prolonged imprisonment under Article 300 of the Chinese Criminal Code.
According to the document, seeking to encourage officers to arrest as many people of faith as possible, bonuses to be spent on work-related needs will be awarded for each arrested believer from a xie jiao-labeled religious group or movement. Each person detained on criminal charges is worth 5,000 RMB (about $ 730), and on administrative charges – 3,000 RMB (about $ 430). For every 10,000 RMB (about $ 1,460) of confiscated church funds, a reward of 2,000 RMB (about $ 290) will be given.
The document also calls for the implementation of a weekly ranking and evaluation system based on the ratio of completed tasks. In cases where Public Security Bureau’s units rank in the bottom two for two consecutive months, they will be criticized in a notice circulated throughout the organization. If the units rank in the bottom two for four successive months, the persons in charge will be punished.
According to a “statistical table of special operation achievements,” two points can be gained for each CAG believer who is detained on administrative charges. A corresponding number of points will also be allocated as a reward for those who provide case leads, confiscate CAG donation money, or supply information regarding CAG churches abroad.
The government has been implementing various “carrot and stick” approaches, like rewards and quotas for the arrest of believers, across the country. To increase pressure and manipulate their subordinates, government bureaus have been insisting on the personal responsibility of official participating in operations and campaigns to suppress people of faith. Even regular citizens are lured with monetary rewards to snitch on their relatives and neighbors through specially established phone lines, websites, and reporting boxes.
A police affairs officer from a city in the central province of Hunan revealed to Bitter Winter that the local Public Security Bureau requires every officer to report the names of two religious believers each month. Those who are unable to complete this task will be disciplined.
Issued as part of “cleaning up gang crime and eliminating evil” – a nationwide campaign to fight organized crime, also used to suppress people of faith – the requirement to report believers is implemented in the name of “destroying the protective umbrella [of dark and evil forces] and breaking up their network.” After preliminary investigations, tracking, and thorough searches, a unified arrest operation is planned to be launched.
An assistant police officer from Hunan admitted to Bitter Winter reporting on his friend who is a member of The Church of Almighty God. He felt pressured by the superiors and wanted to keep his job, he said. “There are even those who report their relatives. We are forced to do this,” the officer added.
Even the lowest ranks in the Chinese bureaucracy are given quotas to improve their outputs in tracking down the religious. A county government in the central province of Anhui has recently ordered the villages under its jurisdiction to submit information on at least one believer every day, also as part of the “cleaning up gang crime and eliminating evil” campaign.
Village officials were warned that if they do not investigate or report believers, they would be accused of protecting “dark and evil forces.” Claiming that the central supervision team in charge of suppressing religion already has preliminary lists of people of faith, the county authorities threatened to expel from the CCP any village official who fails to report any believer that they know. On top of losing the Party mandate, their pension will be revoked, they will be subjected to a fine ranging from 15,000 to 60,000 RMB (between about $ 2,200 and 8,700), and their children will also be implicated.
A village official whose wife is a CAG believer told Bitter Winter that he is afraid for the consequences in case his wife is already on the list, and he doesn’t report her. He has been pressuring his wife to renounce her faith and stop attending religious gatherings.