After targeting the Uyghurs and other minority groups in China, it looks like next on China’s list are foreign religious groups, according to new draft proposal.
China recently published a draft legislative proposal for the implementation of regulations to foreign religious activities in China.
Although the draft said the new legislative proposal is to “protect the freedom of religious belief of foreigners” in China, the content says a different story.
Provisions in the draft specified that foreigners cannot engage in establishing religious groups, offices, activity venues, and even schools.
According to the draft, China wants to prevent the spread of religious extremism in the region.
Also, it does not want religion to “undermine China’s national unity,” which may lead to terrorism.
The Chinese government identifies as officially atheist. However, it also recognizes five different religions in the region: Buddhism, Daoism, Catholicism, Islam, and Protestantism.
The Public is Encouraged to Comment
China published the draft on the website of the People’s Republic of China’s Ministry of Justice.
Also, China is encouraging the public to comment on it.
However, despite its effort to create transparency and civic engagement, according to CNN, it is unlikely to have significant changes from its original form.
Especially with its President, Xi Jinping’s repeated action and calls for the sinicization of the whole region.
Coincided with the Pope’s Comment on Uyghur Persecution
Recently, China defended itself against Pope Francis’ remarks about the Uyghur Muslims in his new book, Let Us Dream: the Path to a Better Future.
China released the draft days before the international media reported the pope’s remark. However, it is interesting that the timing of the news of China’s new proposal coincided with the pope’s remarks.
In his book, the pope said he often thinks of “persecuted peoples,” which includes the Uyghurs, the Rohingyans, and the Yazidis.
As a reply, the Chinese government accused the pope of commenting on something that does not have any “factual basis.”
In fact, according to Zhao Lijian, foreign ministry’s spokesperson, all ethnic groups in China enjoy their full rights.
Those rights, according to him, include freedom of religious belief.