Top police bureaucrat explains why to implement the program of the Central Economic Work Conference controlling religion is essential.
by Zeng Guanyu
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is obsessed with the idea that religion should be kept under control. This idea is part and parcel of CCP ideology, but is reinforced by history textbooks telling Party bureaucrats that Communism in Eastern Europe fell because it did not crack down on time on civil society, leaving too much freedom to religion, particularly in countries such as Poland, Hungary, or Lithuania.
The Central Economic Work Conference is the most important yearly meeting organized by the CCP about economy. It discusses the achievement and problems of the past year, and produce, directives for the next year. The last such conference was held in Beijing on December 8–10, 2021. Not all its proceedings have been made public.
One would expect that, for once, the conference was not about religion. Except that it was, we are now told by one of the country’s top security bureaucrats. Wang Xiaohong is secretary of the CCP Committee of the Ministry of Public Security and the executive deputy minister in charge of daily work. His position is all-important in indicating priorities to public security.
On January 5, 2022, he published in the CCP organ People’s Daily and on the web site of the CCP a commentary on the Central Economic Work Conference from a public security perspective. He reported that delegates were encouraged by Xi Jinping to meditate on the ancient Chinese principle of Guotai Minan (國泰民安), meaning “the country prospers when people is at peace.” Most Chinese are familiar with this motto, and one can find it reproduced in both Buddhist and Taoist temples.
Wang interpreted the motto to mean that economy can prosper only when public order is not troubled by illegal or anti-CCP activities. Among those, he singled out illegal religion. “Pay attention to control national and religious positions, he wrote.” He incited public security agents to “keep a close eye on the use of ethnic and religious issues by hostile forces to infiltrate and destroy the Party’s activities, implement anti-separatism and stability measures, resolutely crack down on ethnic separatist activities and religious extremist activities, and crack down on xie jiao and illegal religion. Prevent illegal missionary activities, use rule of law thought and methods to deal with contradictions and problems in the ethnic and religious fields, and ensure the safety and stability of the ethnic and religious fields.”
Xie jiao, i.e., “heterodox teachings” listed and banned as “cults,” remain high in the list of Wang, but so are “illegal religion” and “illegal missionary activities,” meaning all form of religious proselytization, which is forbidden even to the five authorized religions, and all religion that remains outside of the five government-controlled organizations. Protestant house churches that are not affiliated with the official Three-Self Church are by definition part of “illegal religion,” although they include the majority of Chinese Christians.
Economy and protecting the CCP version of Guotai Minan now supply yet another version to crack down on them.