State control and genocide in China

Underground Catholics, house church Protestants, Tibetan Buddhists and Falun Gong adherents have faced harassment, detention, demolition of places of worship and torture. In Xinjiang province, Uighurs have faced genocide.

Elderly bearded Uighur man in Xinjiang province, ChinaElderly bearded Uighur man in Xinjiang province, China

Themes: State control, legislative restrictions, genocide

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), whose members are banned from believing in or practicing any faith, is increasingly hostile toward religion. Buddhism, Catholicism, Islam, Protestantism, and Taoism are recognised but religious organisations are state-controlled, must be politically loyal to the CCP and are legally required to assist or work with the government in enforcing state laws, regulations, and policies. This includes requirements to alter religious teachings to conform to CCP ideology and policy. New legal measures are frequently introduced as part of a government campaign to rid Islam, Tibetan Buddhism, and Christianity of “foreign” influences. This includes restrictions on clergy, religious schools and religious content on the internet.

Underground Catholics, house church Protestants, Tibetan Buddhists, Falun Gong adherents and the Church of Almighty God, are vulnerable to persecution with reports of harassment, raids, detention, arrest, physical abuse, demolition of places of worship, torture and deaths in custody.

In Xinjiang province, Uighurs and other Muslims have faced crimes against humanity/genocide. Over one million ethnically Turkic Muslims are estimated to have been incarcerated in internment camps without any legal process, for example for wearing a headscarf or beard. This is the largest detention of an ethnic and religious minority since the second world war. Wearing a headscarf or a beard has been sufficient ‘religious’ activity to result in incarceration.

Arbitrary detentions continued in 2021 with former detainees reporting indoctrination, forced labour, rape, forced sterilisation and abortion, with a major impact on the birth rate of the group. As many as 880,000 Muslim children have been separated from their parents and sent to boarding schools. Thousands of mosques and cultural sites have been destroyed.

Numerous governments, research groups and the United Kingdom based Uyghur Tribunal has investigated and determined the atrocities in Xinjiang to be genocide and/or crimes against humanity. Evidence suggests that Chinese authorities have begun to implement similar repressive policies against Hui Muslims throughout China – a group the government previously tolerated.

United States Commission for International Religious Freedom