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China has tightened regulations on religious freedom, intensifying punishments for unsanctioned activities and increasing its supervision of certain groups in a bid to “block extremism” and tackle what it sees as internal threats.
The updated rules, released by China’s cabinet the State Council on Thursday, come as the country ratchets up already stringent controls on Muslim and Christian populations and include a ban on religious organisations accepting foreign donations. China says it is facing a growing threat from domestic cults and radical Islam but critics have accused Beijing of a broader pattern of harassment, detention and abuse.
The latest measures focus on “maintaining legality, curbing illegality, blocking extremism, resisting infiltration and attacking crime”, according to a copy of the regulations posted on the State Council’s official website. “Any organisation or individual may not use religion to carry out illegal activities such as endangering national security, undermining social order … and other activities that harm national interests,” it said.
Among other changes, the regulations, which will be implemented February 2, extend previous rules to include online communications. Religious groups must be registered with the state, while unregistered organisations — which were already not allowed to set up places of worship — are now also prohibited from establishing schools. (AFP)