Reverend Francis Liu on Twitter passed along a photo (see below) taken in September 9, 2018 posted by Chinese authorities aiming to close down an illegal religious meeting place in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan, China’s most populous province.
English translation — see photo of Chinese text below
Illegal Activity Notice
On the morning of September 9, in Zhengzhou Gaoxin District on Changchun Road at Shenglongyouyi City’s section AB, block B, building 5, rooms 342, 343, 345, and 346, it was discovered that Wang Yanfeng and others were engaged in an illegal organized religious activity in an unapproved religious activities venue. Moreover, there was also encountered there the problem of preachers who got up to preach who had not been registered by the religious affairs departments in violation of articles 23 and 36 of the “Religious Affairs Regulations”.
In accordance with the principles of the local management regulations and the requirements of the three-level network and the two-level responsibility system in religious affairs work, Wang Yanfeng and the others are required to immediately halt their illegal religious activities.
[Seal of the Gaoxin District, Wutong Street Committee Office]
September 9, 2018
Controls on religious activities have been tightening recently in China. The current campaign puts performance requirements on local government and government officials (called a responsibility system) that can put promotions in jeopardy if government objectives are not achieved.
A question answered about this system online in the Ask Baidu forum helps understand the Chinese Communist Party’s objectives.
What is the three-level network and the two-level responsibility system in religious affairs work? 什么是宗教工作三级网络两级责任
The county, the township and the village are the three level network. The responsibility system is in effect at the township and village levels.
Oppose those outside China’s borders making used of religion in their infiltration purposes. Continually improve security and make people alert to prevent these activities from occurring. Strengthen inspections and investigations, adjust tactics as needed, and always be determined to maintain the initiative in the work of opposing those from outside China’s borders who would use religion for their infiltration purposes.
(1) “outside China’s borders” distinguishes the PRC interior from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan. Hong Kong and Macao have a high degree of autonomy and are not under as strict political control by the Communist Party as the rest of China.
(2) PRC policies in religion apply a “Three Selfs Principles” [see Wiki article] “The three principles of self-governance, self-support (i.e., financial independence from foreigners), and self-propagation (i.e., indigenous missionary work) were first articulated by Henry Venn, General Secretary of the Church Missionary Society from 1841 to 1873, and Rufus Anderson, foreign secretary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions“.
The PRC in the early 1950s combined all Protestant denominations into one officially recognized patriotic church while underground groupings of house churches were illegal — sometimes tolerated if not “too large” and sometimes persecuted. The Roman Catholics into another patriotic church theoretically not dependent upon Rome (although contact was often maintained through priests in Hong Kong, and Catholics continued to pray for “our Pope” as well as “our country’s leaders” during mass, and many of the “Patriotic Church” Catholic bishops are recognized by Rome). The underground Catholic church remains illegal.
(3) Enforcement of religious affairs regulations vary considerably from place to place and from time to time. Lately persecution of believers has been getting more determined, paralleling a tightening of media control and of Chinese human rights lawyers. Some Chinese scholars predicted that Chinese society will become more turbulent as Chinese become wealthier, better educated and better traveled. Increasing crackdowns on religion and the media may reflect Chinese Communist Party fears that it is under threat. See for example, article “Pitfalls in the Next Stage of China’s Rise” by Xue Li, Director of the International Strategy Research Office, World Politics and Economics Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.