Chinese Communist Party (CCP) authorities have ordered the few legal churches in the country to study and celebrate the Communist Party ahead of the 100th anniversary of its founding on July 1, Hong Kong’s Apple Daily reported Thursday.
“The official Catholic church in China is among the most active, with some parishes holding Thanksgiving Mass to sing praise of the CCP [sic],” according to the newspaper.
“In a statement published last month, Liu Yuanlong, the vice president of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association [CPCA] as well as a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference’s National Committee, wrote that ‘God has chosen the Chinese Communist Party,'” Apple Daily revealed.
China’s Religious Affairs Bureau established the CPCA to oversee the activities of Chinese Catholics. While China’s Communist Party is officially atheist, the Chinese government claims to allow the practice of a handful of religions within China. The tolerated faiths include heavily altered versions of Christianity such as an iteration of “Catholicism” distinct from Roman Catholicism and a form of Protestantism called the “Three-Self Patriotic Church.” Buddhism, Taoism, and Islam are also ostensibly allowed in China, but only under full control of the Communist Party.
“We have to firmly support the Chinese Communist Party with Xi Jinping at its core. We listen to and follow the Party,” CPCA Vice President Liu Yuanlong wrote in his official statement last month in honor of the Communist Party’s upcoming anniversary.
CPCA President John Fang “stressed that the group will continue to ‘deepen the sinicization of the Catholic religion'” in a separate statement released in May.
“We maintain a high degree of alignment with the Party and walk firmly on the path of loving the country and the religion,” Fang, who also serves as the Bishop of the Diocese of Shandong, a province in eastern China, wrote.
“Sinicization” is a term the Communist Party typically uses to mean the usurping of the actual values of the religion in question with communist values, which it deems more “Chinese” than religion.
Chinese Christian leaders issued the public statements of allegiance to the Communist Party last month shortly after new rules issued by China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs took effect in May.
“The Measures for the Administration of Religious Personnel state that religious leaders and teachers must safeguard national security and ethnic unity, and increase scrutiny of their income and training overseas,” according to Apple Daily.
“In a meeting in February, Wang Yang, chairperson of the CPPCC [Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference] National Committee, told religious leaders to take the celebration of the anniversary as an opportunity to bring religious doctrine in line with socialism,” the newspaper recalled. The CPPCC is a Communist Party-controlled political advisory body within the Chinese government.
The General Office of the Chinese Communist Party issued an edict in May “demanding all sectors of society to begin promotional education on the CCP’s history” in anticipation of a nationwide celebration of the CCP’s centennial on July 1. “In response, some religious groups are collaborating with the [Chinese government’s] Institute of Socialism to hold classes and arrange for followers to pay homage at historic sites,” according to Apple Daily.
China’s ruling Communist Party has encouraged citizens to participate in so-called “Red Tourism” since at least April. The state-run tours include visits to sites and monuments across China considered historically significant to the Chinese Communist Party.