China is none-too-comfortable with Christians, and a newly released government document reveals a deeply ingrained bunker mentality about outside religious influence, especially in the country’s universities.
“Resisting foreign use of religion to infiltrate institutes of higher education and preventing campus evangelism is an important and imperative/urgent/pressing strategic task,” says the document, which was issued by the Communist Party Central Committee’s General Office.
Obtained and translated by ChinaAid, the May 2011 document was authenticated by Columbia University Sinologist Andrew Nathan.
“Foreign hostile forces,” according to the document, are trying to “westernize and divide” China. And these forces are using religion, “Christianity in particular, for infiltration.”
The document oozes paranoia. Education and government officials are encouraged to “a high degree of vigilance.” Proselytizing “should be stopped in time.” To that end the Education Ministry is charged with establishing a database to keep track of evangelistic groups. Suspicious activities are to be reported. And faculty who transgress are to be in some cases fired and “handle[d] . . . in accordance with law.”
Universities are directed to “[m]ake education in Marxist atheism the foundational work in resisting infiltration and preventing campus evangelism. . . .”
“In the name of supposedly countering foreign religious infiltration,” says ChinaAid founder and president Bob Fu, “the repressive nature of both the policies and procedures revealed in the secret document shows the Chinese regime’s disregard for freedom of religion. . . .”
“The Chinese government continues to violate severely its international obligations to protect the freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief,” says the USCIRF. “Religious groups and individuals considered to threaten national security or social harmony, or whose practices are deemed superstitious, cult-like, or beyond the vague legal definition of ‘normal religious activities’ face severe restrictions, harassment, detention, imprisonment, and other abuses.”
Interestingly, the news from ChinaAid came just before the Council on Foreign Relations announced its list of thirty global crises to keep an eye on in 2013. One honorable mention not in the final list: “Widespread popular unrest in China triggered by dissatisfaction with economic prospects and political reforms.”
Shades of Nero? How much blame will believers get for “westerniz[ing] and divid[ing]” the country in such an event? I would assume the answer is however much is most expedient to the government.