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Rules on foreigners' religious acts aim to prohibit extremism
Published on: 2020-11-25
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Chinese authorities are soliciting public opinion on a new version of regulations on the religious activities of foreigners within China's territory, in which it highlights that foreigners should not advocate religious extremism, support or fund illegal religious activities, use religions to undermine China's unity and ethnic solidarity, or conduct terrorist activities.

A former senior official on religious work and experts said that the latest rules - with many details to protect foreigners' religious freedom in China while prohibiting the infiltration of religious extremists into China - fit into the global context of fighting against extremism and terrorism and reflect China's efforts to perfect its legal system in terms of managing religions.

The notice to solicit public opinion for the rules was initially released by the Ministry of Justice on its website on Wednesday and the deadline to comment is December 17. It contains five chapters on the procedures of how to apply for collective religious activities, religious exchanges with overseas clergy or institutions, and legal responsibilities that foreign clergy members should assume during their stay in China.

Among the articles, Article 21 has drawn public attention as it lists activities that foreigners should not conduct within China, including interfering with or dominating the affairs of Chinese religious groups, institutions or religious sites; interfering with the appointment or management of Chinese clergy members; advocating extremist religious thoughts; supporting or funding illegal or extremist activities; using religion to destroy China's national unity or ethnic solidarity, or using religion to conduct terrorist activities.

Zhu Weiqun, former head of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee said that the detailed regulations could help prohibit some forces from infiltrating into China under the guise of religion for terrorist or separatist activities.

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