China: Government-Controlled Churches Must Establish ‘Surveillance’ Boards

October 27, 2023

For background on Orthodox Christianity in China, see here.

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in China, see here.

“Government-Controlled Churches Must Establish ‘Surveillance’ Boards,” by Gao Zhensai, China Aid, October 17, 2023:

(Shanghai) Government-controlled churches in China held a supervisory board conference in Shanghai on September 26. During the meeting, they discussed a set of rules for the supervisory board and another set of methods for implementing these measures. In reality, the supervisory board functions as a “surveillance” board, aiming to facilitate mutual reporting, disclosure, restraint, and supervision within the Christian community and among Christians.

On October 2nd, the official website of the China Christian Council (CCC) and National Committee of Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM), reported that their supervisory board was held in Shanghai. According to their report, Pastor Gao Feng, the chairman of the supervisory board of the TSPM, reviewed the main work of the council over the past five years. This work included convening seven board meetings and formulating two sets of new measures, both of which have not yet been officially disclosed. Chairman Gao Feng mentioned that the provincial CCCs and TSPMs in eleven provinces have established supervisory. Through discussions and exchanges, these supervisory boards may better fulfill their roles in future work on religion.

Xu Xiaohong, the chairman of the National Committee of the TSPM, quoted chairman Xi Jinping’s speech at the National Religious Work Conference in 2021. He emphasized the need to support and guide the religious community in comprehensive and strict management. Xu stated that the supervisory board played an important role, providing strong support for the national council and committee. The establishment of supervisory boards is an important initiative for self-restraint and self-management in the local setting. Through institutional design, it achieves the fundamental purpose of self-supervision in groups.

The supervisory board, in essence, functions as a “surveillance” board. According to official statements, the supervisory board aims to cooperate in promoting the Sinicization of Christianity and strict governance of religious practices. It is supposed to play a role in identifying issues and acting as a whistleblower. The board will also enhance mutual surveillance and control among religious venues and personnel, escalating restrictions step by step, with the goal of further limiting religious freedom and religious personnel….