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China bans online religious activities without prior government approval

Online religious activities, including Masses, homilies, and prayers, will be banned in China starting March next year, said reports reaching LiCAS News.

AsiaNews reported that even Christmas celebrations have been prohibited because it is a “western holiday” and “a threat to Chinese national culture.”

The State Administration of Religious Affairs of the Chinese State Council announced on December 3 that “measures for religious information services on the Internet” will prohibit the streaming of religious activities without government approval.

The new rules will come into force on March 1, 2022, and will be implemented in collaboration with the state ministry of security.

According to the new rules, religious information on the web must not “incite the subversion of state power, oppose the leadership of the [Chinese Communist Party], undermine the socialist system, national unity and social stability.”

Online broadcasts must not “promote extremism, terrorism, ethnic separatism and religious fanaticism.”

Online communications must not also “induce minors to become religious, to organize them or force them to participate in religious activities.”

AsiaNews said Chinese President Xi Jinping aims to improve “democratic” control over religions.

Organizations and individuals who want to hold online religious activities must apply for approval from the Department of Religious Affairs of the province.

The new measures also bans online fundraising “in the name of religion.”

The State Administration for Religious Affairs had earlier made public the “Administrative Measures for Religious Personnel” on the management of clergy, monks, priests, bishops, and other religious leaders.

In February 2018, the Communist Party adopted “new regulations on religious activities” that stipulate the functions and activities of religious personnel.

The signing in 2018 of an agreement between Beijing and the Vatican on the appointment of bishops has not stopped the persecution of its religious leaders, according to an AsiaNews report.

The agreement was renewed in October 2020.

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