CCP to cultivate leaders that uphold "religious theory of socialism"

Friday, January 7, 2022


(Beijing, China—January 7, 2022) The Chinese leadership continues to advance the redraft of the CCP's policies on religious affairs and pushes forward a series of new ideas and concepts. The CCP leaders also emphasized the importance of guiding religion to "adapt to a socialist society." This is a continuous attempt by the Party to strengthen its control of various religious groups throughout China.


Five years ago, Beijing held a remote national religious work conference from December 3 to 4. All provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities of China, and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps set up branch venues. According to reports from the official state-run press agency Xinhua News, General Secretary Xi Jinping, Chairman of the CCP, highlighted that it is necessary further to advance the "sinicization of religions in China," strengthen the management of religious affairs online and address outstanding issues that affect the proper inheritance of religions in a productive way. 


"To lead with the core values of socialism," Xi Jinping emphasized. There were specific directives that were demanded at the conference, such as "to strengthen the education of party history, new China history, the history of reform and opening up, and the history of the rise of socialism, and to guide the practice and cultivation of socialism, and embody Chinese culture in the religious sector and religious believers.


In addition to pushing the development of religion in the Chinese context, Xi Jinping also pointed out another "major project" — to train "three teams" to engage in works of religious affairs. One team will consist of "Party and government officials who are adept at the Marxist view on religion, familiar with religious affairs' work, and competent to engage in work related to religious believers." Another team will be "politically reliable, have noble achievements and good moral characters, and can play their roles in critical times." Xi Jinping continued that it is necessary to cultivate a religious research team that is firm in its ideology and politics, adheres to the Marxist view on religion, is excellent in academics, and is adept in creativity.


Professor Ying Fuk-tsang, at the Divinity School of Chung Chi College, Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), expressed that the conference put forward specific instructions on the sinicization of religion and added instructions on religious studies.


Professor Ying Fuk-tsang pointed out that the cultivation of a "religious research team" is a new idea. In the past, the upsurge of religious studies in China raised a group of scholars in religious studies to engage in history, sociology, literature, philosophy, and other academic areas. Many of them held a positive and sympathetic view toward Christianity, and this particular group of influential scholars was seen as part of the Christian mission. Professor Ying believes this may affect religious studies, universities, and academic spaces.


In the eyes of the Chinese Communist Party leaders, religions and religious groups are instruments to cooperate with the Party's socialist construction. How religion can be regarded as a practical standard depends on the needs of the political environment. The official stance towards religious groups is "weigh the conditions and situation; otherwise, leniency and strict punishment will all fail" (Couplets composed by Zhuge Liang in the Three Kingdoms Period). The Party's tone is that there cannot be full leniency or full strictness towards religious groups but "guide" them in specific directions. It means through strict management of religious groups, including implementing severe measures. The Party's management or crackdowns are often contrary to the protection of freedom of belief stipulated in the Constitution of China.


~Gao Zhensai, ChinaAid Special Correspondent


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