China orders clergy to toe Communist Party and socialist line

New national rules bring together party and government guidelines and go into effect in May

Requirements on clerical income follow the prosecution of a house church leader over her handling of contributions from her congregation

China has released new rules covering religious leaders in China. Photo: AFP
New national rules requiring clergy to embrace the leadership of 
the Communist Party
and China’s socialist system are expected to compound limits on religious freedom in the country, according to analysts.

The new rules – Measures for the Administration of Religious Personnel – were published by the State Administration for Religious Affairs early this month and will go into effect in May.

While the measures underlined many of the controls already in place under existing supervisory guidelines, their packaging as a national regulation gave them greater political force, one observer said.

Since 2015, President Xi Jinping has sought to bring religions such as Islam and Christianity under the party’s control through a process of “
”, and stressed that religious adherents must reject foreign influence.