To disseminate fear among people of faith, measures promoting snitching and offering considerable amounts of money for informers are expanded throughout China.
by Shen Xinran
In its war against religion, the CCP has been using extensively monetary incentives for citizen informers who provide tips on religious activities and groups it considers “illegal.” From reporting boxes, hotlines, and websites to public awareness announcements in the media and bonuses to officials, the regime is cultivating the culture of snitching to instill fear among the population and deter people from practicing their faith. New such initiatives appear almost every day throughout China.
As per the Incentive Measures for Reporting Illegal Religious Activities (on Trial Bases), issued by the Handan City Bureau of Ethnic and Religious Affairs in the northern province of Hebei in October 2019, informants can be awarded from 100 to 500 RMB ($ 14 to 72); in some cases, even more. Among the “violations” encouraged to be reported, unauthorized religious studies and pilgrimages, minors attending religious activities and classes, missionary work in public places or people’s homes, as well as the distribution of religious publications outside religious venues, are mentioned.
Similar decrees have been adopted by the governments of Xingtai, Baoding, and Tangshan cities in Hebei, and Puyang city and Hua county, administered by Anyang city, in the central province of Henan.
According to government reports, the expansion of tip-off measures throughout the country has helped increase the number of confiscated materials during the nationwide campaign “to eradicate pornography and illegal publications.” Compared to 2018, the number of reports from people increased by 61% across the country in 2019, amounting to nearly 5,200 confirmed cases of illegal publications, including religious materials. The authorities are willing to “further strengthen the tip-off work in the future” and award informants with money so that more people are involved in the campaign as “guardians of public discipline.”
Religious groups identified as xie jiao by the CCP are often the primary targets of these tip-off measures. In September last year, the Inner Mongolia Anti-Cult Association issued a public announcement, offering rewards up to 300,000 RMB (about $ 43,000) for tip-offs on “crimes by xie jiao organizations.” The document lists a total of 11 levels of remunerations.
In 2018, the government of Weifang city in the eastern province of Shandong organized a publicity campaign, encouraging people to inform on religious groups designated as xie jiao. They published and distributed about 100,000 leaflets, made announcements in local newspapers, on TV. Reportedly, more than 700 tip-offs have been received as a result. Among them, an informant was awarded 3,000 RMB (about $ 430) for reporting a Falun Gong practitioner giving away leaflets. Another was given 40,000 RMB (about $ 5,800) for snitching on a Church of Almighty God (CAG) meeting venue, which was later raided by the police.
In Lyuliang, a prefecture-level city in the northern province of Shanxi, a CAG member was reported by her neighbor in July 2018 for hosting gatherings. She was later sentenced to four years in prison “for using a xie jiao to undermine law enforcement.”
Numerous house churches have been raided and later closed down last year, based on the information provided by citizens attracted by the government’s monetary incentives. Local authorities throughout China continue to encourage the culture of snitching by promising financial rewards for information on believers.