According to Xinhua, a Chinese state-run news agency, the Chinese government intends to rewrite and retranslate religious texts such as the Bible and the Quran to ‘reflect socialist values.’ This follows the controversial crackdowns on the Muslim Uighur minority living in the western province of Xinjiang as well as persecution of Christians in the country.
This order was proposed in November, 2019, during a meeting held by the Committee for Ethnic and Religious Affairs of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which oversees the ethnic and religious matters in China. According to this order, new editions of religious texts must be devoid of content that goes against the beliefs of the Communist Party. Any parts deemed wrong or challenging by the censors will be amended or re-translated to match communist values.
Wang Yang, the supervisor of the meeting and the Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, claimed that religious authorities must follow President Xi Jinping’s instructions and interpret the ideologies of different religions in light of “the core values of Socialism” and “the requirements of the era.” Chinese Communist officials at the meeting concluded that re-evaluating religious books would prevent ‘extreme thoughts’ and ‘heretical ideas’ from eroding the country.
According to Patrick Poon, China Researcher at Amnesty International,
“[The censorship plans] show how manipulative the Chinese government is, hypocritically allowing certain religions to operate in China but only strictly with what content the Chinese government allows. In many ways, the Chinese government’s control, including censorship of the Bible and the Quran, has twisted the doctrines of these religious texts and thus the religions. There is simply no genuine religious freedom” (1).
In a recent entry on this blog looking at religious persecution in the country and religion’s threat to the atheist Communist Party, it was noted that China has come down hard on Christian and Muslim minorities. Numerous churches have been demolished and across several provinces children were banned from attending Christian camps over the summer holidays. Churches are monitored and some have been attacked by the state security forces or have been closed down entirely. Government laws have been put in place in the attempt to ensure that people only join churches sanctioned by the Communist Party. For these reasons, China in the last year alone has jumped from 42nd to 27th in the list of the 50 worst places to live in the world as a Christian (2). Muslims have been sent to “re-education” camps, which are in fact detention centers although the state claims this to be volitional. UN experts and activists have claimed that at least one million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims are held in these detention centers in Xinjiang province, and former detainees have said that Muslims in these places are forced to eat pork, speak Mandarin, swear loyalty to President Jinping, and even criticize or renounce their faith. This has been conducted by the state under the guise of preventing religious extremism by teaching Mandarin and job skills.
Further claims involve the Chinese state editing Christian sermons (3) and establishing laws rendering it illegal to proselytize to children and for those under the age of 18 to become Christian (4). Measures have been taken to prohibit Muslims from having “abnormally” long beards, the wearing of veils in public places, and refusal to watch state television (5).
1. Daily Mail. 2019. China will rewrite the Bible and the Quran to ‘reflect socialist values’ amid crackdown on Muslim Uighur minority. Available.
2. Open Doors. China. Available.
3. Christian Headlines. 2019. China Edits Pastor’s Sermon, Deletes ‘God Made Heaven and Earth’. Available.
4. Christian Headlines. 2019. China: Children Cannot Become Christians until They Are 18. Available.
5. BBC. 2017. China Uighurs: Xinjiang ban on long beards and veils. Available.