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World News

Christian charity fears devastating impact of China's clampdown on online religion

by Donna Birrell

The charity CSW (Christian Solidarity Worldwide) is calling on the Chinese authorities to urgently withdraw planned regulations on online religious information, which it says could have a devastating impact on religion or belief communities in China.

Strict regulations concerning the sharing of religious content online have been published by the Chinese government and are due to take effect on 1st March.

The new measures stipulate that “overseas organizations and individuals are not allowed to operate online religious information services within the Chinese territory.”

CSW says the scope of the regulations is deliberately broad, including text messages, images, audio and video shared through any application or online forum.

It says that it is particularly concerned about a prohibition of online religious activities and ceremonies, especially during the pandemic. The measures also prohibit religious content that “induce[s] minors to believe in religion,” effectively making online youthwork by religious communities illegal.

CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: 

“Throughout 2021 we witnessed daily cases of human rights abuses against religious communities, activists, lawyers, citizen journalists and scholars in China at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party. The Christmas period, which should be a time of peace and joy for Christians everywhere, was sadly no exception. We call on the Chinese authorities to cease harassment of members of churches, to release all those detained for their peaceful religious activities, and to urgently withdraw the planned regulations on online religious information, which could have a devastating impact on religion or belief communities in China.”

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