- China is increasingly cracking down on Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists.
- Authorities are subjecting Muslims to an unprecedented amount of surveillance, shutting down Christian churches, and forcing monks to pledge allegiance to the state.
- The officially atheist Chinese Communist Party disapproves of all kinds of grassroots organizations as they are seen to undermine its grip on power.
Over the past year alone, China has detained Muslim for showing their faith, forced Buddhists to pledge allegiance to the ruling Communist Party, and coerced Christian churches to take down their crosses or shut down.
exist under the state's control: a Party-sanctioned form of Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Protestantism, and Catholicism.
The state controls these groups' personnel, publications, and finances. Technically, citizens are free to practise religion freely, as long as their sect is officially sanctioned by the government.
Party officials in 2015 introduced the term "sinicization" into official government lexicon, in which they called on Muslim, Buddhist, and Christian leaders to fuse their religions with Chinese socialist thought. Roderic Wye, a former first secretary in the British Embassy in Beijing, told Business Insider last year:
"The party has always had trouble with religion one way or another, because often religious activity tends to imply some sort of organization." "Once there are organizations, the party is very keen to control them," Wye added.
But under the presidency of Xi Jinping, the government's crackdown appears to have increased at an alarming scale.
They want to ... cut off Islam at the roots' In the western region of Xinjiang, the home of the majority-Muslim Uighur ethnic minority, authorities have installed a massive police state and is estimated to have imprisoned up to 1.5 million residents.
Many detainees said they were arrested for showing distinct markers of Islam, like growing a long beard or refusing to drink. Beijing this week claimed it had released most Uighurs from detention camps, but has provided no credible evidence.
Muslims elsewhere in the country are also vulnerable. Authorities in Beijing have ordered at least 11 halal restaurants and food stalls to remove Arabic script and symbols associated with Islam, Reuters reported this week.
"They said this is foreign culture and you should use more Chinese culture," one restaurant manager, who asked not to be identified, told the news agency. It's not clear if it issued the order to all halal stores in the city.
The Communist Party, which is suspicious of foreign forces in its country, interpret symbols of Islam and the Arabic language as pledging allegiance to something other than the Chinese state.
"They [Chinese authorities] want Islam in China to operate primarily through Chinese language," Darren Byler, a Xinjiang expert, told Reuters.
The majority-Muslim Hui ethnic group, who are scattered around China, also fear that the government will extend its crackdown to them.
In the northern city of Yinchuan, home to the largest concentration of Hui Muslims in the country, authorities have banned the daily call to prayer because it apparently created noise pollution, the South China Morning Post reported last year.
One unnamed imam in Linxia, central China, also told Agence France-Presse: "They want to secularize Muslims, to cut off Islam at the roots.
These days, children are not allowed to believe in religion: Only in communism and the party."
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