China’s Policies and Practices on Protecting Freedom of Religious Belief
The State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China
I. Basic Policies in Protecting Freedom of Religious Belief
II. Legal Guarantees for Freedom of Religious Belief
III. Conducting Religious Activities in an Orderly Manner
IV. The Role of Religious Groups Has Been Fully Developed
V. Active and Healthy Religious Relations
As a socialist country under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), China adopts policies on freedom of religious belief based on national and religious conditions to protect citizens’ right to freedom of religious belief, build active and healthy religious relationships, and maintain religious and social harmony. Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, China, under the staunch leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping as the core, has advanced law-based governance in all respects, integrating religious work into the national governance system, employing laws to deal with all social relationships concerning religion, and improving the management of religious work under the rule of law. Religious believers and non-believers respect each other, and live in harmony, committing themselves to reform and opening-up and the socialist modernization, and contribute to the realization of the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation.
I. Basic Policies in Protecting Freedom of Religious Belief
China adopts policies on freedom of religious belief, manages religious affairs in accordance with the law, adheres to the principle of independence and self-management, actively guides religions to adapt to the socialist society, and unites religious believers and non-believers to the greatest extent.
Adopting policies on freedom of religious belief. Respecting and protecting freedom of religious belief is a basic policy of the CPC and the Chinese government. Every citizen enjoys the freedom to choose whether to believe in a religion; to believe in a certain religion or a denomination of the same religion; to change from a non-believer to a believer and vice versa. Believers and non-believers enjoy the same political, economic, social and cultural rights, and must not be treated differently because of a difference in belief. The state respects citizens’ freedom to religious belief and protects their normal religious activities. In exercising their right to free religious belief, believers should not interfere in the lawful rights of other people, or force others to believe in any religion. Believers should not discriminate against non-believers or believers of other religions. No one shall use religion to interfere in the lawful rights and interests of citizens. Believers should respect public order, customs, cultural traditions and social ethics in exercising their freedom of religious belief.
Managing religious affairs in accordance with the law. The state treats all religions fairly and equally, and does not exercise administrative power to encourage or ban any religion. No religion is given preferential treatment above other religions to enjoy special legal privileges. The state manages religious affairs involving national and social public interests in accordance with the law but does not interfere in the internal affairs of religions. The state protects citizens’ right to freedom of religious belief, normal religious activities and the lawful rights and interests of religious groups, bans illegal religious activities, prohibits the dissemination of extremist thought and engagement in extremist activities in the name of religion, resists the infiltration of hostile foreign forces taking advantage of religion, and fights against illegal and criminal activities under the guise of religion. Believers should abide by the Constitution, laws, rules and regulations of the country. Religious activities should be carried out within the bounds of the law. No religion should interfere in the implementation of administrative, judicial and educational functions of the state. No abolished religious and feudal privileges should be resumed. No activities which employ religion to endanger social stability, national unity and state security are allowed to be carried out.
Adhering to the principle of independence and self-management. Religious groups and religious affairs are not subject to control by foreign countries; this principle is enshrined in the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China. The Chinese government supports all religions in upholding the principle of independence and self-management, allowing religious groups, clerical personnel and believers to manage religious affairs themselves in accordance with the Constitution and law. This principle is a historic choice made by Chinese religious believers in the Chinese people’s struggle for national independence and social progress, as Catholicism and Protestantism, which were known as foreign religions in China, had long been controlled and utilized by colonialists and imperialists. The establishment of this principle conforms to the historical trend of the Chinese people’s search for national independence and liberation, to the demands of the times to realize the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation, and as a result, religions in China have taken on an entirely new look, winning widespread understanding, respect and support of friendly religious believers around the world. Adhering to the principle of independence and self-management does not mean the severing of normal connections between religious organizations in China and their foreign counterparts. The Chinese government supports and encourages all its religions to conduct international exchanges, to build, develop and consolidate friendly relations with religious groups overseas, to enhance mutual trust and eliminate misgivings, and to present a positive image based on independence, equality and mutual respect. The Chinese government will resolutely oppose and deal with foreign organizations and individuals engaging in activities which violate China’s Constitution, laws, regulations and policies, their attempts to control China’s religious organizations, to interfere in China’s religious affairs and to subvert the Chinese government and socialist system under the guise of religion.
Actively guiding religions in adapting to the socialist society. Actively guiding religions in adapting to the socialist society means guiding religious believers to love their country and compatriots, safeguard national unity, ethnic solidarity, be subordinate to and serve the overall interests of the nation and the Chinese people. It also means guiding religious groups to support the leadership of the CPC and the socialist system; uphold and follow the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics; develop religions in the Chinese context; embrace core socialist values; carry forward China’s fine traditions; integrate religious teachings and rules with Chinese culture; abide by state laws and regulations, and accept state administration in accordance with the law.