CHINESE President Xi Jinping warned against the infiltration of nefarious religious influences from abroad, while telling religious groups to submit to the Communist Party.
His remarks came after a government clampdown on religion that has seen bans on the wearing of veils and beards in the predominantly Muslim region of Xinjiang, and the removal of church crosses in eastern China.
Xi said, “We must resolutely guard against overseas infiltration via religious means and prevent ideological infringement by extremists”.
According to the official Xinhua News Agency, he made the comments at a conference on religions over the weekend in Beijing.
He said religious groups must submit to the ruling Communist Party’s control, and stressed that “In no way should religions interfere with government administration, judiciary and education.”
He also promised religious freedom in line with party policy. He indicated he would harmonize religious affairs with laws, uphold religious independence, and aid religions in adapting to socialist society.
However, according to South China Morning Post, local governments have removed over 1,200 crosses from churches and other buildings over the recent years in Zhejiang province. China has been consistently criticized for its draconian restrictions and measures against religion.
Religious groups should “merge religious doctrines with Chinese culture, abide by Chinese laws and regulations, and devote themselves to China’s reform and opening up drive and socialist modernization in order to contribute to the realization of the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation,” said Xi, according to Xinhua.
He told Community Party members to be “unyielding Marxist atheists, consolidate their faith, and bear in mind the Party’s tenets.”
Additional reporting by the Associated Press