‘The Souls of China’ by Ian Johnson

41X86DjhVkL._SX329_BO1 204 203 200_Julia Lovell at The Guardian:

In the spring of last year, Xi Jinping – China’s paramount leader – presided over a national conference on religion. He seized the opportunity to declare Chinese Communist party (CCP) authority over questions of faith. Religious matters, Xi announced, are of “special importance” to the CCP: “We should guide and educate the religious circle and their followers with the socialist core values.” Believers must “dig deep into doctrines and canons that are in line with social harmony and progress, and favourable for the building of a healthy and civilised society, and interpret religious doctrines in a way that is conducive to modern China’s progress and in line with our excellent traditional culture”. Members of the CCP, he further emphasised, must remain “unyielding Marxist atheists, consolidate their faith, and bear in mind the party’s tenets”.

Xi’s remarks exemplified the fierce tensions that surround the past and present role of religion in communist China. While the party acknowledges and accepts the resurgence of religious belief made possible by the post-Mao thaw, it retains an ongoing compulsion to regulate faith – a compulsion that has resulted inviolent suppressions of spiritual movements such as Falun Gong.

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