December 10 was Human Rights Day. Bitter Winter celebrates it with four articles. The third is devoted to the real meaning of religious “sinicization.”
by Bitter Winter
- Implementing its ultimate goal of becoming the sole deity worshipped in China, the CCP continues to smother the Christian doctrine, replacing it with the party line. In late June, a state-run Three-Self church in a county of Luoyang city in the central province of Henan replaced the Ten Commandments with President Xi Jinping’s quotes, after repeated demands from the government. By now, the Ten Commandments have been removed from nearly every Three-Self church and meeting venue in the county, and replaced with quotations from Xi Jinping. The same is happening all over China.
- Chinese couplets – a form of Chinese poetry – is a tradition spanning generations, when people write their wishes, often on red paper, and hang them on the gates of their homes. “It is forbidden by the state that religious sites provide religious individuals with New Year couplets with religious characteristics,” the director of the Bureau of Religious Affairs in Xiayi county of the prefecture-level city of Shangqiu, in China’s central Henan Province, said during a meeting in a church on December 3, 2018. He distributed non-religious couplets warning that they should replace the religious ones, or else.
On January 8, 2019, two officials from the Bureau of Religious Affairs of Ruzhou city handed 350 pairs of couplets with images of door-gods to the leader of a Three-Self church. He was compelled to distribute them, despite his objections that the non-Christian character of the couplets is offensive to Christian believers.
- On October 1, the anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, in Guanshen Buddhist Temple in Liangbei town, under the jurisdiction of Yuzhou city in the central province of Henan, over 100 participants took part in the political celebration, including officials from the city’s Religious Affairs Bureau and Buddhist Association, as well as monks and nuns from eight different temples. Believers sung the national anthem and raised the national flag. After the flag-raising ceremony, believers were forced to shout out, “Long live the motherland. Amitabha.” A Buddhist master performed the song “My Chinese Heart,” while 16 nuns in cyan dresses danced to the rhythm of the song “The Chinese Flag.”
Video: A Buddhist master was told to sing a patriotic song during National Day celebrations.
- On May 19 this year, a day when traditionally pilgrims come to worship, at a Buddhist temple in Hanzhong city of the northwestern province of Shaanxi, the abbot no longer talked about Buddhism, but instead lectured pilgrims on state policies and promoted the documents of the Party’s 19th National Congress.
At the end of May, four workers used drills and sledgehammers to dismantle the temple’s roof. Workers said the government demanded that the temple’s entire roof be altered into a flat roof. A poster “Standards for a Harmonious Temple,” a poster “Xie Jiao-Free Religious Venue Information Officer Working System” (meaning that propaganda is provided against the banned religious movements labeled as xie jiao) and two other posters were hung on the wall.
- No clear-cut reasoning has been provided for the regime’s ever-increasing persecution of China’s traditional religions – Buddhism and Taoism – under the banner of “sinicization.”
Residents of Dengfeng city in the central province of Henan recently witnessed how the Chinese character for “temple” had vanished from the name of the locally-renowned Shaolin Temple Tagou Martial Arts School. The name of the school on the backs of old students’ uniforms has been covered with a red cloth or a Chinese flag as well. The newly-issued outfits don’t have the word “temple” in the school name on them anymore. The measures were implemented in May 2019 after the state had issued requirements to remove all religion-related words.
- The campaign to remove domes and crescent-moon symbols from mosques is still ongoing. Several mosques in Henan Province and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region have been “sinicized.”
Between June and July, all Islamic-style structures were removed from three mosques in Ningxia’s Guyuan city: Nanfang Great Mosque and Jiulong Road Mosque in Yuanzhou district, and Shaanxi Great Mosque.
In August, Arabic inscriptions were removed from the signboards of at least 250 shops in Henan’s Xinxiang city under the pretext of ensuring the “uniform use of written Chinese.” Halal symbols on food packaging have also been banished.
- To help achieve the goal of eradicating any teaching content with religious overtones, the CCP is now altering the books written by international authors that are read by primary and secondary school students.
In the new version of the grade six Chinese language textbook, published by the People’s Education Press in January 2019, the content related to the Bible and prayer books has been deleted from the original version of English writer Daniel Defoe’s (1660-1731) novel Robinson Crusoe, and the words “Sabbath days” have been changed into the “days of rest.”Religious terms – such as “attend Sunday service,” “hope God will send you his blessings,” “I will pray for you,” and “I beg you for Christ’s sake” – have been deleted from the original version of Vanka by Russian writer Anton Chekhov (1860-1904).
- The CCP government offers high salaries to large numbers of university students from other provinces to serve as teachers of the Chinese language in Xinjiang, to “promote the Western China Importing Talent Program.” “Why do they transfer so many ethnic Han teachers [to Xinjiang]?” asked a teacher assigned to Xinjiang’s Kashgar city. “In order to ‘start young,’ he told Bitter Winter, so that all Uyghur children study the Han culture and speak Mandarin Chinese, thus eradicating the Uyghur culture. The government’s crackdown efforts are strong. In terms of education, customs, and language, the former lifestyle of Uyghurs has been shattered.”