China bans foreigners from posting religious content online, cites national security interests

China has issued a new regulation under which all foreign organizations or individuals will be banned from broadcasting religious content online in the country, citing national security interests, a news report said on Wednesday.

No organization or person will be allowed to broadcast information about religious ceremonies on the Internet unless they have a license from the Chinese religious regulator, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported, citing new regulations.

The regulations are the first of their kind to tighten control over religious affairs online, coming two weeks after a national conference on religious work attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping, in which he called on China to “strengthen the management of religious affairs online ”.

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In his address to a national conference on work related to religious affairs on December 4, Xi stressed upholding the principle of the development of religions in the Chinese context and providing active guidance for the adaptation of religions to socialist society.

He said it was imperative to continue to uphold the principle that religions in China should be Chinese-oriented, strengthen the management of religious affairs online, and effectively tackle important issues that affect heritage. healthy religions in China, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported. .

The new rules, titled Measures for the Administration of Religious Information Services on the Internet, stipulate that people applying for a license to broadcast religious content online must be a China-based entity or individual recognized by Chinese laws, and its main representative must be a Chinese. national, according to the Post report.

State security authorities will manage domestic organizations and individuals and prevent them from conspiring with foreign bodies to use religion to carry out activities that endanger national security on the internet, according to the regulations.

According to the rules, applications must be filed with the local government’s religious affairs department for a license that will be valid for three years.

Content prohibited by the rules includes those that use religion to incite the subversion of state power, oppose the leadership of the Communist Party, undermine national unity and social stability, and promote extremism, terrorism or national separatism.

The new measures indicate that with the exception of approved religious groups, religious schools, temples and churches, no organization or individual can preach on the Internet, provide religious education and training, and publish or repost the comments. preachers, according to the report.

Organizing and conducting religious activities and live broadcasting or recording religious ceremonies such as worshiping Buddha, burning incense, chanting, mass and baptism will be prohibited, has t he said, adding that no organization or individual is allowed to fundraise in the name of religion on the Internet.

China is currently in conflict with the United States, the EU and Western countries over issues related to religion, particularly human rights violations against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.

Over the years, Beijing, which is wary of the spread of Christian sects in China, has also come under criticism for a periodic crackdown on churches.

China on Tuesday announced sanctions against four members of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, a federal commission that monitors religious freedom, in response to Washington’s latest sanctions against Xinjiang.

Xiong Kunxin, ethics professor at Peking Minzu University, said the new measures, especially banning foreign organizations and individuals’ religious activities online, underscored Beijing’s focus on national security. and the religious order.

“The international situation today is very complicated. European countries and the United States slandered us just to hinder China’s development, some religious forces will certainly cooperate with their political goals, ”Xiong told the Post.

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