Libmonster ID: SE-362


(Saint Petersburg)

Candidate of Political Sciences

Key words: China-US relations, religious freedom, Tibet, XUAR, Falun Gong

Relations between the People's Republic of China and the United States are developing dynamically in various areas, exerting a significant impact on the development of the modern world order. However, the nature of these relations, in addition to the Taiwan issue, the growth of the PRC's military power and some other problems, is influenced by another significant factor - fundamentally different approaches to the so-called human rights issues, including the problem of religious freedom.

Washington's special attention to religious freedoms abroad is due to a domestic political factor - the cultural and philosophical tradition of the United States, which considers American history as a unique Messianic experiment ("America is the city of God on Earth").

With the passage of the International Religious Freedom Act in November 1998 by the US Congress, the protection of religious freedoms abroad has become an important element of US foreign policy. For the past 10 years, the US State Department's annual reports on religious freedom around the world have listed China as one of the countries where "violations of religious freedoms"are observed. Washington's criticism targets both the Chinese authorities ' policy on religion in general, as well as restrictions on religious freedom for Christians, Tibetan Buddhists, and Uighur Muslims, as well as the persecution of followers of the Falun Gong religious sect.


The policy of the Chinese authorities on the issue of religion is enshrined in the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, which declares freedom of religion to its citizens.

However, the specific nature of the Chinese constitution is that it contains three restrictions that are fundamentally important: restriction of religious freedom by religious activities designated as "normal"; prohibition of using religion to commit actions that violate public order, threaten the health of citizens, or interfere with the state-approved education system; and inadmissibility of managing religious organizations and religious affairs from abroad 1.

In China, there is such a concept as "registered" and "unregistered" religious organizations. At the request of the authorities, religious organizations must pass mandatory registration, during which they are ranked as one of the 5 officially recognized and privileged confessions in the PRC: Buddhism, Taoism*, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism. Although the term "normal religious activities" is not defined in Chinese law, it probably refers to the activities of religious organizations registered within certain national patriotic confessional organizations.

Registered religious organizations, in accordance with Chinese law, can own property, use the right to publish religious literature, establish religious educational institutions, send students abroad for spiritual education, and receive foreigners for spiritual training in the PRC, appoint clergy, and collect donations.2

Places of religious activity (Buddhist monasteries, Taoist temples, mosques, churches, and other places where religious services are held) must also be registered with the State Administration of Religious Affairs of the People's Republic of China. Moreover, the activities of places of religious services are placed under strict control and supervision by this state body. Religious organizations must obtain permission to hold large-scale religious events and erect large religious statues in cases where these activities are carried out outside the places where religious services are held.

Unregistered religious organizations are considered to operate outside the law, and their activities are restricted by the Chinese authorities. Unregistered places of religious services are closed, and in some cases

* Taoism is a Chinese religion and one of the main religious and philosophical schools that originated in China. I millennium BC based on shamanic beliefs. The founder is considered to be the ancient Chinese sage Lao Tzu. The main concept is the tao, the way-the universal law of the universe, the basis of its harmony. Following the tao also includes inaction.

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They are destroyed, donations received are confiscated, and fines can be imposed on religious organizations.

An important characteristic of the Chinese authorities ' religious policy is a differentiated approach to determining the degree of control over religious activities in different districts and provinces.

For example, in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR), there are serious restrictions on the freedom of religion of Muslims, while Muslims in the provinces of Gansu, Qinghai, Yunnan and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region experience almost no interference from the Chinese authorities in religious affairs. Buddhists are more closely controlled in the Tibet Autonomous Region and the Tibetan areas of Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan provinces, as well as in Inner Mongolia. There is also a different degree of control over the activities of unregistered religious organizations and places of religious activity on a geographical basis. For example, in the south-eastern regions of China, unregistered congregations experience little pressure from the Chinese authorities, and in the provinces of Henan and Shandong, local authorities strictly monitor the activities of such religious groups.

In implementing the policy on religion, the Chinese authorities attach particular importance to the inadmissibility of managing religious organizations, places of religious activity and religious affairs from abroad. Only registered religious organizations, registered places of religious activity and religious personnel have the right to develop international religious exchanges. The Chinese authorities categorically reject expressions of loyalty by Chinese citizens to religious hierarchs abroad, and, above all, to the Pope and the Dalai Lama.


The ban on managing religious affairs from abroad had negative consequences primarily for the development of Catholicism in the PRC.

In the 1950s, the Chinese government declared the need to break all organizational ties between religious groups and their foreign centers. Accordingly, the Patriotic Chinese Catholic Church, independent of the Pope, was established in the PRC in 1957, and Catholics who continued to maintain contact with the Vatican were persecuted.

The introduction of the principle of "independent, independent management" of religious affairs for Chinese Catholics actually meant a break with the Vatican. As a result, the Catholic community in China was divided into two parts: the "patriotic" Catholic and the illegal Vatican. According to some estimates, the" patriotic " Catholic branch has about 5.3 million believers, while the illegal Vatican branch has more than 12 million. There are 3 believers.

Some easing in this issue was made in 1989, when Chinese authorities allowed Chinese Catholics to maintain a religious connection with the Pope, recognize his religious authority and pray for him. In practice, the policy of the Chinese authorities towards Chinese Catholics is expressed in the persecution of the illegal Catholic Church, in the prohibition of the Chinese Catholic Church to recognize the appointment of bishops by the Vatican, and Chinese Catholic bishops to travel to the Vatican to participate in synods of the Catholic Church. The precedents of appointing Catholic priests without the consent of the Vatican are considered by Western countries that support the Vatican part of Chinese Catholicism, including the United States, as facts of serious violation of religious freedoms.

An important characteristic of the Chinese illegal Catholic Church, which distinguishes it, for example, from unregistered Protestant "house churches", is the presence of a single administration. Thus, in parallel with the official conference of Catholic Bishops, the illegal Conference of Catholic Bishops operates. 4 Moreover, the Vatican indirectly participates in the Catholic Bishops ' Conference.-

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eth in appointing bishops within the illegal Chinese Catholic Church.

The problem of the Chinese Catholic Church is particularly important and politicized in the light of the Taiwanese factor. The fact is that the Vatican has official diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which is considered by the Chinese authorities as an integral part of the PRC. The Chinese authorities are ready to engage in dialogue with the Vatican to normalize relations only if they meet two indispensable requirements: the Vatican's refusal to interfere in the internal affairs of the PRC under religious pretexts and from breaking diplomatic relations with Taiwan, recognizing the PRC government as the only legitimate government of China, and Taiwan as an integral part of it.


In Beijing, the leader of the movement for Tibetan independence from the PRC and the initiator of unrest in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) is considered to be the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists who has been in exile since 1959, the Dalai Lama XIV.

According to experts, he still enjoys authority among Tibetans, especially monks*. Believing that Buddhist monasteries in Tibet are linked to the separatist movement, the authorities have established a fairly tight control over their lives.

For example, since 1991, "patriotic education" campaigns have been conducted in Tibet, in which monks and nuns are forced to disown the Dalai Lama XIV and study Communist political texts praising the Chinese authorities ' religious policies.

There are problems with obtaining passports for well-known religious figures of Tibetan Buddhism, as well as with making religious pilgrimages to India and Nepal by Tibetans.

Describing the human rights situation in Tibet in 2009, a specialized report by the US State Department states that there are facts of arbitrary arrests and detentions of Tibetans, including on political and religious grounds. These include charges of spying for the Dalai Lama XIV and undermining state security, participating in protest actions, and opposing working groups sent to monasteries to conduct "patriotic education" campaigns.5. The Americans also criticize the position of the Chinese authorities on the appointment of high-ranking lamas. For the first time, this issue became acute for the Chinese leadership in the first half of the 1990s, when the search for his reincarnation was launched in connection with the death of Panchen Lama X, the second sacred person in the Tibetan hierarchy. The central authorities of the People's Republic of China, despite the statement of the Dalai Lama XIV that after a number of years of searching in accordance with historically established Tibetan traditions, the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama was "found", appointed their "candidate" as the heir to the deceased.

After the Chinese authorities canceled the selection of the Dalai Lama XIV, and the new Panchen Lama was appointed the chosen one of the central Chinese leadership, both boys and their families were taken into custody and held somewhere on the territory of the PRC outside the TAR. In June 1999, an appointee of the Chinese leadership was returned to Tibet.-

* For more information, see: Galenov Yu. M. Snezhnye gory i Podnebesnaya [Snow Mountains and the Middle Kingdom]. 2009, No. 3 (approx. ed.).

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There is still no information about the birth of a boy recognized by the 14th Dalai Lama, and all attempts made in this direction by international human rights organizations have failed.

The direct involvement of the Chinese authorities in the appointment of high-ranking lamas was established by Decree No. 5 of the State Administration of Religious Affairs of the People's Republic of China "Measures for managing the reincarnation of living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism". This decree came into effect on September 1, 2007, and meant that decisions regarding the validity of the applicant's reincarnation were now made by the relevant religious Affairs department of the Chinese Government. Thus, it is forbidden for Tibetan priests to independently identify the reincarnations of famous lamas, including the Dalai Lama.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom * has criticized the new rules governing the reincarnation of living Buddhas, arguing that they violate international agreements that recognize the fundamental right of religious communities to choose their own religious teachers and mentors.6

Washington does not limit itself to criticizing the Chinese authorities for "violations of religious freedom" in Tibet, but also implements various measures to monitor the situation in Tibet and put pressure on the Chinese authorities.

Thus, in 1997, the U.S. State Department created the position of Special Coordinator for Tibet, whose responsibilities include coordinating United States policies, programs, and projects on Tibet. It claims to protect the religious, cultural, linguistic and national identity of this region.

In order to increase the effectiveness of the system for monitoring the political, economic and cultural situation in Tibet, the US government has organized Tibetan language courses for US diplomats sent to China, and is also trying to open a US consulate in Lhasa. Since 2000, the United States has provided annual funding to non-governmental organizations for activities aimed at preserving the cultural traditions of Tibetans and promoting sustainable development and environmental protection in Tibet.


The US State Department also claims that "significant violations of religious freedoms of Muslims"are observed in the XUAR. According to official statistics, by the end of 2005, the area's population had reached approximately 20.1 million people, 7 of whom almost half were Uighurs and Muslims. It is with Muslim Uighurs that the Chinese authorities link the threat of a separatist movement for an "independent East Turkestan"in Xinjiang.

The situation in the XUAR is not stable. Here, Uighur Muslims have repeatedly flared up on national and religious grounds, and there have been bloody clashes with ethnic Chinese (Han). For example, mass riots occurred in Xinjiang in July 2009.**

Extremists from among the separatist-minded Uighur Muslims have turned to terror tactics and, according to the Chinese authorities, have become an integral part of international terrorism and religious extremism. According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, some of these Muslim Uighurs were trained in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan.

In 2002, Washington, at the request of the Chinese leadership, added the Islamic Movement of East Turkestan to the official list of terrorist organizations. Note, however, that this organization is not considered by Washington as one of the most dangerous terrorist groups.

At the same time, Washington criticizes the Chinese authorities for often not distinguishing between Muslim believers and supporters of the "three evils" or "three hostile forces" - international terrorism, national separatism and religious extremism. The Americans claim that the Chinese authorities ' tight control over the situation in XUAR has at times negatively affected peaceful Muslim believers, and especially Muslim clergy.

As in Tibet, "patriotic education" campaigns are being conducted in Xinjiang, where imams are required to pledge allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party and the People's Republic of China. Periodic inspections of Muslim clergy are carried out, and those who have shown disloyalty to the Chinese government are suspended from work. In some regions of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, Chinese authorities prohibit the construction of mosques, religious practices are prohibited on college campuses, and women are not allowed to wear Muslim headscarves in universities.

"Illegal religious activities" included the opening of private schools created for the study of religious texts, conducting wedding ceremonies in accordance with Muslim traditions, encouraging students to attend religious services, collecting religious taxes, printing and distributing religious "propaganda" .8

Religious education in the XUAR can be carried out

* The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is a bipartisan federal government body in the United States. Authorized members of the commission are appointed by the President of the United States and the leadership of both political parties in the Senate and House of Representatives. ed.).

* * For more information, see: Lazareva T. V. Zigzags of China's National Policy // Asia and Africa Today, 2010, N 2; Gelbras V. G. Chem nedovolny uyghurs / / Asia and Africa Today, 2010, N 6 (editor's note).

page 19

only within the framework of the Chinese Islamic Society. Compared to other provinces and autonomous regions of China, Xinjiang has the most severe restrictions on children's rights to practice religion. Parents are prohibited from allowing their children to engage in religious activities 9.


Finally, Washington's criticism of China includes the issue of the Chinese authorities ' persecution of Falun Gong practitioners.

Falun Gong, created in China in 1992 by retired military man Li Hongzhi, was positioned as a religious teaching that combines a set of breathing exercises, meditation, individual provisions of Buddhism and Taoism in combination with personal instructions from Li Hongzhi. The method of practicing Falun Gong, due to its effectiveness in improving the health of the body, quickly gained popularity in the PRC, and the movement itself turned into an orderly organizational structure through the efforts of Li Hongzhi. By 1999, the extensive organization included about 2 million people. active members and more than 90 million users. adherents, including CCP veterans and retired Chinese military personnel 10.

The emergence of a new mass religious movement did not go unnoticed by the Chinese authorities, but active measures to counteract this movement followed only after a peaceful demonstration in the center of Beijing (near the Zhongnanhai government residence) on April 25, 1999, which was attended by about 10,000 Falun Gong followers.

The Chinese authorities responded to the mass protest by banning Falun Gong altogether (July 22, 1999) and cracking down on Falun Gong activists. Falun Gong is accused of violating public order, and the organization is also responsible for the deaths of several hundred Chinese people. Authorities are also trying unsuccessfully to initiate an international arrest warrant for Lee Hongzhi, who lives in the United States, on charges of creating a "sinister cult" that spreads prejudice in order to deceive people.

On October 30, 1999, the PRC adopted article 300 of the Criminal Code of the PRC, which imposed a ban on the activities of groups designated as "secret societies" and "cults" or "sects". In accordance with this article, a ban was immediately imposed on the activities of groups classified as "cults". In addition to such groups as Falun Gong, Guan Yin, and Zhong Gong, the authorities also designated a number of Protestant communities as "cults", such as Shouters, Eastern Lightning, Society of Disciples, Full Scope Church, and New Testament Church.

According to article 300, the organization and use of "cults" in violation of State and administrative laws is punishable by imprisonment from 3 to 7 years, and in particularly serious cases - from 7 years or more. 11 The lack of an official interpretation of the term" cult " leaves the Chinese authorities a fairly wide margin for maneuver in restricting the activities of various religious groups.

Once outlawed in China, Falun Gong has been widely adopted abroad - in the United States, as well as in other countries with a significant Chinese diaspora. Foreign "Falun Gong" organizations have become hotbeds of organizing pressure on the Chinese authorities, in particular through their own media resources. And they include the Great Epoch Newspaper, distributed in 17 languages in 33 countries, the New Tang Dynasty, an independent television station headquartered in New York, and the Voice of Hope, a radio station in northern California. Falun Gong practitioners are making extremist demands for a trial of the Chinese leadership, a ban on the ruling Chinese Communist Party, and spreading allegations of Chinese authorities ' repression of Falun Gong, critical information about Chinese foreign and domestic policy, and "human rights violations" in China.

In the United States, Falun Gong is active, including, among other things, holding demonstrations, distributing leaflets, and organizing various cultural events. Founded by Falun Gong practitioners, two American IT companies-DynaWeb and UltraReach - are developing and implementing software that allows Chinese Internet users to overcome the censorship imposed by the Chinese authorities on the Chinese segment of the global network and gain access to prohibited information. The US government finances the activities of these IT companies through the Broadcasting Board of Governors , an independent US federal agency established in 1999 to manage all state-owned international broadcasting in the United States.

Falun Gong supporters in the United States, on behalf of Chinese plaintiffs, have repeatedly filed civil lawsuits in U.S. federal courts against top Chinese officials for "violating the human rights" of Falun Gong practitioners.

Falun Gong activity in the United States has not gone unnoticed.

Since 1999, the US Congress has repeatedly proposed resolutions in support of Falun Gong. Members of the US Congress and senior US officials make public statements in support of the movement's activities. In the pages of the US State Department's annual human rights reports, Chinese authorities have been criticized for persecuting "Falun Gong" practitioners as ... -

* For more information, see: Galenovich Yu. "Falun Gong", or a holy place is never empty // Asia and Africa Today, 2001, No. 11.

page 20

but both in China and abroad, including in the United States.

Citing sources associated with Falun Gong, the State Department's 2009 report on religious freedom states that since the Chinese authorities ' persecution of Falun Gong began in 1999, several hundred thousand Falun Gong practitioners have been detained for practicing Falun Gong, admitting adherence to Falun Gong teachings, and refusing to criticize Falun Gong. the organization and its leader. The detainees were allegedly subjected to various forms of physical and moral pressure to force them to renounce their allegiance to Falun Gong.12


Thus, the problem of religious freedom in the PRC has become quite acute both in China itself and in Sino-American relations.

Establishing full State control over religion is an important task of the Chinese leadership, which is particularly important because many threats to the state sovereignty, territorial integrity, and legitimacy of the CCP, according to the Chinese authorities, also have a religious context.

Formally abandoning the struggle against religion as contradicting the atheistic orientation of the communist ideology, the Chinese authorities actually created an effective system of bureaucratic control over religious activities. Within the framework of this system, the authorities play a central leading role in the training and training of ministers of worship, the direction of their religious activities, the establishment of religious educational institutions, and international religious exchange. With the exclusive right to educate new religious leaders and appoint senior clergy, the Chinese authorities effectively guarantee the loyalty of future religious leaders and current clergy.

At the same time, Beijing believes that the ethnic unrest and separatist movements in Tibet and XUAR, as well as the ongoing activities of Falun Gong, which pose serious threats to the central government, are receiving support from abroad and, above all, from the United States.

Judging by official statements, there are concerns in the Chinese leadership that the United States, under the pretext of protecting human rights, including religious freedom, may indirectly or even openly interfere in any inter-ethnic conflict on the territory of the PRC, for example, in Tibet or the XUAR, or by supporting certain religious movements located in the PRC outside the law, contribute to the internal political instability of the PRC.

For their part, American officials, during meetings with Chinese representatives, raise the issue of respect for religious freedom in the PRC, and call for expanding the range of religious freedoms for both registered and unregistered religious groups.

The U.S. State Department, the U.S. Embassies in Beijing, and the U.S. consulates in Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shenyang, Shanghai, and Wuhan are gathering information on what they consider violations of religious freedom in China, and are in close contact with a wide range of leaders of Chinese religious communities.

American high-ranking officials also ostentatiously participate in meetings with prominent Chinese activists who are somehow associated with religious activities. For example, in July 2008, US President George W. Bush met with two non-grata figures in the PRC: Uighur Muslim rights activist Rebia Kadir and house church activist Bob Fu. In 2006, the 14th Dalai Lama was awarded the highest award of the United States - the Congressional Gold Medal.

Regardless of whether Washington's goals are geopolitical or purely "messianic" and human rights - related, its actions fuel the fears of the Chinese authorities about the destabilization of the situation in the country under external influence related to the issue of religious freedoms.

It seems that the issue of "religious freedom" will continue to be a stumbling block in Sino-American relations in the future.

1 Constitution of the People's Republic of China of 1982 (as amended in 1988, 1993, 1999, 2004). Article 36 -

2 Resolution on Religious Affairs. Decree of the State Council of the People's Republic of China No. 426. 1.03.2005 - - 11da-adc6 - 93180af1bb1a.html

3 International Religious Freedom Report 2009: China (includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau). 2009, Oct. 26 -

Madsen R. 4 Catholic Revival During the Reform Era // The China Quarterly, No. 174, 2003, June, p. 473.

5 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2009: China (includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau). 2010, March 11 -

6 USCIRF Concerned Over China's New Regulations for Tibet. 31.08.2007 - 47

7 Communique on the main figures of a sample study of 1% of the country's population in 2005, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. 20.03.2006 -

8 International Religious Freedom Report 2009. Op. cit.

9 Measures taken by the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to implement the Law on the Protection of Minors. 25.09.1993. Ст. 14 -

Korsun V. A. 10 Search and findings in solving the problems of ethnic separatism in China // Ethnoses and Confessions in the East: Conflicts and Interaction, Moscow, MGIMO-University, 2005, p. 509.

11 Criminal Code of the People's Republic of China. Ст. 300 - - 01/21/content_5679505.htm

12 International Religious Freedom Report 2009. Op. cit.


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