February 27, 2019
BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s ruling Communist Party warned party members on Wednesday to stick to Marx and Lenin and not believe in “ghosts and spirits”, in the latest effort to root out superstitious practices.
China officially guarantees freedom of religion for major belief systems like Christianity, Buddhism and Islam, but party members are meant to be atheists and are especially banned from participating in what China calls superstitious practices like visiting soothsayers.
There have been numerous scandals in recent years where senior party members have been accused of involvement in superstition.
A lengthy statement on how best to strengthen the party’s role and its leadership, issued on the official Xinhua news agency, said Marxism was the guiding thought for China and the party. “Resolutely prevent not believing in Marx and Lenin and believing in ghosts and spirits, not believing in the truth and believing in money,” the party statement said.
“Resolutely oppose all forms of mistaken thought that distorts, misrepresents or negates Marxism.”
President Xi Jinping said last year that the party’s decision to stick with the political theories of Karl Marx remained “totally correct”, to mark the 200th anniversary of the German philosopher’s birth.
Chinese people, especially the country’s leaders, have a long tradition of putting their faith in soothsaying and geomancy, looking for answers in times of doubt, need and chaos.
The practice has grown more risky amid a sweeping crackdown on deep-seated corruption launched by Xi upon assuming power in late 2012, in which dozens of senior officials have been imprisoned.
The founder of modern China, Mao Zedong, banned fortune telling and superstition in puritan, communist China after the 1949 revolution, but the occult has made a comeback since the still officially atheist country embraced economic reforms and began opening up in the late 1970s.
In one of the most famous recent cases, China’s powerful former security chief Zhou Yongkang was jailed for life in part due to accusations he leaked undisclosed state secrets to a fortune teller and healer called Cao Yongzheng, known as the “Xinjiang sage” after the far western region where he grew up.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Darren Schuettler
Source: Reuters “Stick to Marx not ‘ghosts and spirits’, China warns party members”
Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
China is struggling to get its estimated 100 million religious believers to banish superstitious beliefs about things like sickness and death, the country’s top religious affairs official told a state-run newspaper.
Wang Zuoan, head of the State Administration of Religious Affairs, said there had been an explosion of religious belief in China along with the nation’s economic boom, which he attributed to a desire for reassurance in an increasingly complex world.
While religion could be a force for good in officially atheist China, it was important to ensure people were not mislead, he told the Study Times, a newspaper published by the Central Party School which trains rising officials.
“For a ruling party which follows Marxism, we need to help people establish a correct world view and to scientifically deal with birth, ageing, sickness and death, as well as fortune and misfortune, via popularizing scientific knowledge,” he said, in rare public comments on the government’s religious policy.
“But we must realize that this is a long process and we need to be patient and work hard to achieve it,” Wang added in the latest issue of the Study Times, which reached subscribers on Sunday.
“Religion has been around for a very long time, and if we rush to try to push for results and want to immediately ‘liberate’ people from the influence of religion, then it will have the opposite effect and push people in the opposite direction.”
About half of China’s religious followers are Christians or Muslims, with the other half Buddhists or Daoists, he said, admitting the real total number of believers was probably much higher than the official estimate of 100 million.
Wang did not address specific issues, such as what happens after the exiled spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism the Dalai Lama dies, testy relations with the Vatican or controls on Muslims in the restive Xinjiang region in the west.
Rights groups say that despite a constitutional guarantee of freedom of belief, the government exercises tight control, especially over Tibetans, Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang and Christians, many of whom worship in underground churches.
“LURE FOR UNREST”
Beijing also takes a hard line on what it calls “evil cults”, like banned spiritual group Falun Gong, who it accuses of spreading dangerous superstition.
Still, while religion was savagely repressed during the chaos of the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, the government has taken a much more relaxed approach since embarking on landmark economic reforms some three decades ago.
The ruling Communist Party, which values stability above all else, has even tried to co-opt religion in recent years as a force for social harmony in a country where few believe in communism any more.
China had avoided the religious extremism which happened in some places with the collapse of the Soviet Union or the religious problems seen with immigrants in Europe and the United States, Wang added, something to be proud of.
Still, China could not rest on its laurels.
“Religion basically upholds peace, reconciliation and harmony … and can play its role in society,” Wang said.
“But due to various complex factors, religion can become a lure for unrest and antagonism. Looking at the state of religion in the world today, we must be very clear on this point.”
Source: Reuters “China says aims to banish superstition, promote knowledge”
SCMP reports: “Developers will not be able to skip “unlucky” numbers such as four, 13 and 14 in the registration of Beijing addresses after a new regulation comes into effect on Saturday.
“‘The numbers of multi-storey buildings, units and door plates should be coded and registered in numerical order and no skipping or selective use of numbers should be allowed,’ Zhou Qiaolin, an official at the Beijing Municipal Administration of Quality and Technology Supervision, told Xinhua.
“Li Xiaobo, from the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau, which drafted the new regulation – the first on the mainland to cover such matters – said it would only apply to new buildings. The bureau will be in charge of supervising and implementing the new standard.”