China’s ruling party has revised its strict membership rules, warning party members who uphold religious beliefs will be expelled from the party as it tightens grip on power, Daily Express reports. The Communist Workers Party also threatened to punish those who spread what they describe as political rumours.
President Xi Jinping has been attempting to crackdown on corruption within the party since he took office in 2012 and a crackdown on religion has been strengthening. He has made it a top priority to shake up the party and has intensified efforts to ensure party members are loyal, disciplined and honest, while following traditional party values.
Party watchdog the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection updated the discipline rules late on Sunday, put in writing orders that were put in effect since August 18. The new rules state that in cases of serious breach of policy, party members can be prosecuted – but many smaller offences can result in a party member’s expulsion – including upholding Christian beliefs and values.
Members of the ruling Workers Party are not allowed to criticise or speak out against central policies within the party, challenge decisions or spread “political rumours or damage the party’s unity”. One of the clauses in the new constitution reads:
“Party members and officials must correctly exercise the power granted them by the people, be clean and upright, and oppose any abuse of power or behaviour that seeks personal benefit.”
The rules have also been updated to reflect the party’s atheist beliefs – which members are required to follow strictly or face punishment. Xi Jinping is central to the new rules outlined in the updated party constitution, with members expected to show fierce, unwavering support to the leader. The new rules read:
“Party members who have religious belief should have strengthened thought education. If they still don’t change after help and education from the party organisation, they should be encouraged to leave the party.’ Those who attend “activities that use religion for incitement” will be expelled, according to the rules.
Beijing has increased its crackdown on Christianity in the country, recently raiding a Christian summer camp for children. Authoriries also knocked down a church in northern Gansu province as partof Beijing’s long running efforts to ban citizens practicing the religion. Earlier in August, Police stormed a Christian summer camp for young people. About 80 children aged between 10 and 14 were taking part in the event in Tianjin when police raided the campsite, reported Catholic news agency UCAN.
After police arrived, the summer camp’s two organisers were accused of holding an illegal Christian event and escorted from the campsite. And in May, an estimated 1,100 “illegal” bibles were seized from churches in Shandong province in East China. Many said that authorities had steered clear of Buddhist temples, instead targeting Christian places of worship. At the time, authorities claimed the raids were part of their campaign to target pornography – but Christian worshippers said that only religious texts were seized.