China drafts new guidelines to curb ‘chaotic, illegal promotion’ of religion online: Media

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China has revealed new draft guidelines that prohibit ‘chaotic’ and ‘illegal promotion’ of religion on the Chinese internet, Global Times revealed on Monday.

“The guideline, aiming to maintain religious and social harmony, requires religious organizations, institutions and venues, engaging in online religious information services, to apply for licenses from provincial religious affairs departments,” it quoted the guideline stating.

Online religious information services cannot be broadcasted or streamed and cannot ‘incite subversion, oppose the leadership of the Communist Party of China, or overthrow the socialist system and promote extremism, terrorism and separatism’, the guideline said.

Zhu Weiqun, former head of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, told the Global Times that regulating online religious information is not to limit religious freedom, instead, it is to protect the legal rights of religious people and religious freedom.

“Some organizations, in the name of religion, deliberately exaggerate and distort religious doctrine online, and some evil forces, such as terrorism, separatism and religious extremism, and cults, also attempt to expand their online influences,” Zhu said.

Licensed religious businesses and organizations will only be to preach on their own religious platforms.

This comes after  credible reports that millions of Uygurs are being held by China in ‘counter-extremism centres’, by Gay McDougall, a member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, were disclosed at a two-day UN meeting in the country.

She expressed her concerns over reports that Beijing had “turned the Uygur autonomous region into something that resembles a massive internment camp”. China did not respond immediately and later stated that it would answer the concerns on Monday during the continuation of the session in Geneva.

The Uygurs are known to be a Muslim ethnic minority making up 45% of the population in China’s Xinjiang province. The province has been officially designated as an autonomous region.

There are been consistent reports by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that more and more Uygurs and other Muslim minorities are being detained in Xinjiang and being forced to swear loyalty to China’s President, Xi Jinping.

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