China claims that the West is using Christianity to influence its people and challenge the ruling Communist Party.
Xu Xiaohong, head of the National Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China, vowed to rid the country of all religions perceived as “Western influence,” reports the Inkstone News.
This wrong view and behavior has seriously affected social stability, ethnic unity and religious harmony, and has vilified the social image of the Muslim community and must be resolutely stopped. —Yang Jie, an imam from Xinjian
Xu delivered a speech on March 11, 2019 which supports President Xi Jinping’s campaign to “sinicize religion.” In this campaign, the government aims to have full control of all religions in the country. Part of its five-year plan is to adapt religious teachings and doctrines into the Chinese culture.
The senior Chinese official said Christianity is called a ‘foreign religion’ since it was introduced to China by Western colonizers. He said, “Some believers lack national consciousness, and that’s why we have the saying: ‘one more Christian, one less Chinese’.”
President Xi ordered that Bibles must be translated into Mandarin, and liturgy, clerical clothing, and even church buildings must be modified in accordance with the traditional Chinese culture. Christians are urged to use traditional Chinese tunes in music and to practice calligraphy and Chinese painting.
Religious freedom is allowed under China’s constitution, but since President Xi’s took office in 2013, the government initiated a crackdown on Christianity and other religions deemed as a threat to government authority, reports Al Jazeera.
Many underground churches were shut down, both Protestant and Catholic, crosses in church buildings were destroyed, children were banned from church, and religious decor in private homes were replaced with Xi’s portrait.
“Anti-China forces in the West are trying to continue to influence China’s social stability and even subvert our country’s political power through Christianity, and it is doomed to fail,” claimed Xu.
Xu explained that, “Only by continually drawing on the fine traditions of Chinese culture, can China’s Christianity be rooted in the fertile soil of Chinese culture and become a religion recognized by the Chinese themselves.”
Western countries cried foul over China’s persecution against religious minorities. Rights groups claimed that some Muslims were placed in internment camps to learn about the Chinese law and the Mandarin language.
“This wrong view and behavior has seriously affected social stability, ethnic unity and religious harmony, and has vilified the social image of the Muslim community and must be resolutely stopped,” said Yang Jie, an imam from Xinjiang.