Category Archives: chinese culture

China’s War on Islamist

Two ethnic Uighur women pass Chinese paramilitary policemen.

New reports claim that Islamist extremism is moving into inland China.

Perhaps not “widely” known is the fact that Western China is home to millions of Muslim “minority” peoples, most identifying as “Uighur.”

Recently in China, officials stated that Islamic extremism is beginning to move out of Western China and into inland China where the “overwhelming” majority is Han Chinese.

Although the officials gave no details as to which provinces had “extremist activity, Wang Zuoan, head of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, told the National Congress of the Chinese Islamic Association, “We should let Muslims know the boundaries between legal and illegal religious activities, to enable them to say no to illegal activities.”

China is officially an “atheist” country, allowing only certain “registered” religions to be practiced, and those “practices,” of course, are being “controlled” by the state.

These “limitations” on religious practice have produced great “tension” between religious “people” and the Chinese “government.”

This tension has raised “doubts” regarding China’s claim of “Islamic” terrorism.

A recent interview with Ahmatjan Osman, a Uighur and the “exiled” president of the East Turkistan government, gave much “credence” to this doubt.

In the interview, Osman discussed the “tension-laden” history China has had with the Uighur and their “autonomous” territory of Xinjiang.

“The Chinese are conquerors. Our soil is oil rich. Seventy percent of Chinese oil is Uighur oil. China wants the land and the raw materials. They don’t need the people so they try to seize the land and break the people.”

“They seek legal reasons to kill them. The Nineties saw the emergence of political Islam, with the Taliban and AL-Qaeda. Everything the Uighur did was considered terror. China established a new anti-terrorism law and used the police and army to oppress us. Every small thing was considered terror.”

“Today, China says it’s fighting Islamic terror rather than anything nationalistic. If you are under 18, you are not allowed to enter a mosque. If you are a civil servant, you can’t enter a mosque. They encourage Chinese families to move into our region. Seventy years ago, there were 300,000 Chinese, today they are 50% of the population,” said Osman.

Given China’s obvious “distaste” for religion in general and its attempts to “mold” certain religions into something that will not “threaten” atheist Communism, it is not a “far stretch” to wholeheartedly believe Osman’s “side of the story.”

Osman continued, “We have some extreme elements who went to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS, but they don’t represent us. The Chinese government turns a blind eye when the Uighur leave the country. From 2010 to 2015 more than 30,000 left because of persecution and pressure from the so-called imams.”

“They ended up in Turkey and Syria. As the international community fights ISIS, they kill Uighur and that keeps China happy. China can also say that when it fights the Uighur, it fights international terror.”

This statement from Osman strongly suggests that not only is true “extremist terrorism” not present in China, but that China also, in a way, “supports” groups like ISIS because when Uighur’s join the groups, perhaps due to the “persecution” they receive from the Chinese, they end up being “killed.”

While all of this make “sense,” even if we are to not “believe” Chinese officials when it comes to “Islamic” extremist terrorism, China could still be “at risk” for such activity.

Geographically speaking, Western China is very “close” to the Middle East. China’s Western border lies next to the “gate” to the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan, two countries that “house” Islamic extremists.

So, while China ostensibly may be “free” from the Islamic extremist “terrorism” that the West has come to “know all too well,” this may not be the “case for much longer.”

China bans all Muslim prayer meetings and Islamic religious practices
 ISIS Threatens ‘Rivers of Blood’ in China
Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, China Make Anti-Terror Alliance
Let the Muslims Fast
Islamists Suspected in China’s Deadliest Terror Attack
Turkey, China, Join Syrian Civil War


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Tibetan Living Buddhas

Divine intervention 03

China is continuing its push to “promote” further communist government meddling in “Buddhism.”

A article titled Divine Intervention,” features an expert “warning” from ethnic and religious “commentator” Zhou Quan that living Buddhas “can be a weapon of mass destruction if used by evil or splittist forces” if not properly controlled by Beijing.

“Especially high-and intermediate-level Living Buddhas are very prestigious and influential among pilgrims,” he said, who likes to use his “pseudonym” Zhou Quan.

The Chinese government has taken steps to solidify “authority” over reincarnation of Tibetan “Living Buddhas”  by establishing an online “database” certifying all 870 “Living Buddhas,” experts say.

Divine intervention 01

A young lama looks at the camera in a monastery in Sertar county, Southwest China’s Sichuan Province.

A Living Buddha, or “Tulku,” is an honorary title given to a child chosen as the “reincarnation” of another Living Buddha.

Some “Living Buddhas” who were affirmed by the 14th “Dalai Lama,” the highest lama of Tibetan Buddhism, have been behind “riots or self-immolation’s” with the aim to further the cause of Tibetan “independence,” explained Zhou, a columnist at, a Beijing-based “political commentary” website which is dedicated to “helping young Chinese build healthy, constructive and progressive minds.”

In late March, it was rumored that Zhu Weiqun, chairman of the “Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference’s Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee” and one of the key architects of the “Living Buddha Database” was detained for selling the “Living Buddha” title.

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Zhu Weiqun.

Zhu Weiqun, known for his harsh “criticisms” of the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, has denied “accusations” that he received huge “bribes” to grant “approvals” for people to become “Living Buddhas,” dismissing the claims as a “vulgar smear” since “Living Buddhas” must follow strict “historical and religion regulations.”

Zhou claimed that these rumors were spread by “separatists” and targeted the central government’s “reincarnation system.”

Zhu, former vice-minister of “United Front Work Department,” has been “tough” toward the Dalai Lama. “Separatists hate the initiators of the system, including Zhu,” Zhou wrote.

In previous years the government’s supervision of “Living Buddhas” was far looser.

During the “Cultural Revolution” (1966-76), some Tibetan Buddhist temples were “torn down” and Living Buddhas were “criticized and denounced,” according to Wang Xiaobin, a scholar with the Beijing-based “China Tibetology Research Center.”

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As the “chaos” ended and opening-up “reform” began in the late 1970s, the central government tried to correct its errors. “But the policy went to another extreme. The government was hands-off on the reincarnation of tulkus,” Wang told the Global Times.

According to Zhou, in the 1980s, temples were “rebuilt” and thousands of new Living Buddhas “sprung up” in Tibetan areas. Some of them had their “authenticity” affirmed by domestic Living Buddhas, some of them were recommended by “herdsmen,” some were identified by “senior” Living Buddhas overseas and others were “sent” to China from India, he said.

“Many of the Living Buddhas verified by the Dalai Lama and Dharamsala-based ‘Tibetan government-in-exile’ have become the backbone of ethnic separatists,” he added.

Wang agreed, saying that these “lax policies” made it easy for the Dalai Lama to “interfere” in domestic ethnic and religious issues.

In 1987, ’88 and ’89, “riots” hit Lhasa in which mobs shouted “pro-independence” slogans, attacking “governmental buildings, police, and businesses,” according to State media.

On March 14, 2008, “separatists” initiated another “riot” in the city, in which 18 civilians and one police officer were “killed,” the Xinhua News Agency reported.

“The Dalai Lama clique see that manipulating a Living Buddha means controlling a temple, means controlling a large amount of believers,” Zhu, told the Global Times.

In recent years, more than 100 Tibetans set themselves on fire to “protest Chinese rule,” according to the US-based National Public Radio.

The authorities claim that most of the people who “self-immolated” were lamas or former lamas at the “Kirti Gompa or Gerdeng Monastery” in the Aba Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Southwest China’s Sichuan Province or its sub-monasteries.

The official investigation showed that these “suicides” were directly linked to a Living Buddha, who used to “head the monastery” and now lives in exile in Dharamsala, according to Xinhua.

“Living Buddhas can be very influential and deceptive. If they preach national conflicts and describe central government policies as ‘threats,’ their disciples and pilgrims would believe it with few doubts,” Zhou said.

The central government started to “assert its authority” over Living Buddhas in the late 1980s. Following the “death” of the Tenth Panchen Lama on January 28, 1989 in the Tibet Autonomous Region, the government and high-ranking “lamas” in Tibet began to start searching for his “reincarnation.”

The 10th Panchen Lama with China’s former President Hu Jintao, at Tashilhunpo Monastery in Tibet on 23 January 1989. The Panchen Lama died just five days after this photo was taken.

“They agreed that the search should respect established religious rituals and Qing Dynasty-era historical conventions, adhere to patriotism and submit to the leadership of the central government,” according to

The government had the group of lamas “select” a group of young boys as possible “candidates” among whom the Panchen Lama would then be selected by “drawing” lots.

Gedhun Choekyi Nyima.

Pre-empting this process, the Dalai Lama announced that one of the boys, “Gedhun Choekyi Nyima,” was his chosen Panchen. Nyima was then taken into government “protection” and a different boy, “Gyaincain Norbu” a 6-year-old boy born in Lhari county in northern Tibet was “picked” through the urn process and “approved” by the central government.

Gyaincain Norbu.

“The method of drawing lots from a golden urn and the central government having the final say is an historical custom,” according to Li Decheng, a researcher with the China Tibetology Research Center.

Tibet became an administrative “district” directly under the central authority of the “Yuan Dynasty” (1279-1368) in the 13th century.

In the “Ming Dynasty” (1368-1644), the central government started to “confer” the title of Living Buddhas to “religious” leaders in Tibetan-inhabited areas, Li said in an article published in the overseas edition of the People’s Daily.

To solidify its role in selecting the “reincarnations” of major Living Buddhas, the Qing court established the method of “drawing” lots from a golden urn and ruled that it had the power to “decide” whether or not to use the method and to “approve” the final choice.

Wang said “religion” is a major tool for the separatists. “When they are not able to use economic or military methods for their splittist purposes, they resort to ideology. By using religion, they can easily provoke the masses to be against the government,” he noted.

In 2007, “China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs” (SARA) endorsed a set of regulations to “institutionalize” the management of reincarnation of “Living Buddhas,” which stipulates that all the “reincarnations” must get government approval.

“The selection of reincarnations must preserve national unity and solidarity of all ethnic groups and the selection process cannot be influenced by any group or individual from outside the country,” SARA said, Xinhua reported.

To further “regulate” Tibetan Buddhism and “crack down” on the growing number of “phony” Buddhas, the country has launched an “online database” which helps people check the “authenticity” of Living Buddhas.

“These efforts further consolidate central governmental control over the reincarnations of Living Buddhas, and cripple the separatists’ capability to intervene,” Zhou noted.

Dorshi Rinpoche, professor at the “Northwest University for Nationalities” in Lanzhou, Northwest China’s Gansu Province, believes that administration over the “reincarnation” of Living Buddhas is vital.

“Due to the impact of the commercialization, corruption also breeds and spreads in religious circles. To eradicate the possibility of people gaining Living Buddha titles through bribery and connections, controlling their number and approval is essential and needs to be strengthened,” Rinpoche told the Global Times.

But there are still “barriers” on the road to ” implementing” this reincarnation system.

Zhu said the barriers are mainly put there by external forces. “Ignoring the historical facts, the Dalai clique has been making every attempt to deny the religious rituals and historical conventions,” he noted. “Their purpose is to use religion to serve their politics.”

He also pointed out “internal” problems, citing some people who miss the “old system of integration of religion with politics.”

But Zhou also says some domestic “religious officials and experts” also complain about the government’s administration over Tibetan affairs. “Some experts still take a dogmatic approach toward Marxist national theory and policies,” he noted.

In early days of the “Communist Party of China,” the Party advocated a “non-monopoly” federal system and said that the “ethnic groups could implement a high degree of autonomy and even decide their relationship with the central government,” according to an article by Lin Zhiyou, a scholar from the “College of Marxism” at Henan University. The article was published in the “Journal of Qinghai Nationalities Institute” (Social Sciences).

Tian Ye, an “ethnic” studies researcher at Henan University, said that as the Party “came into power,” this changed. “The range of autonomy should be limited so as to prevent splits,” he said.

“It’s also a lesson from the collapse of Soviet Union,” he noted, adding that growing ethnic “nationalism” in both Communist Party and governmental officials “contributed to the country’s dissolution.”

Wang said “controlling” the reincarnation if Living Buddhas and “locking out” separatists is part of the “war” over Tibetan “public” opinion.

“It’s likely a tough battle, but we should stick it out, as it affects the reform and social stability,” Wang said.

With “Buddhism,” China has found a unique mode of control: establishing an online database of government-approved living “Buddhas,” ostensibly to prevent con artists from “falsely” claiming the title.

Noticeably “absent” from the approved list of living Buddhas is the Dalai Lama.

“From the point of view of Beijing, the whole apparatus seems to be about giving Beijing control over the appointment of the next Dalai Lama,” Robbie Barnett, director of the “Modern Tibet Studies Program” at Columbia University, told the LA Times earlier this year.

The “current” Dalai Lama is 80 years old, and many “fear” China will attempt to give a Beijing-friendly “monk” the official title, “usurping” the power of Buddhist authorities.

“Communist policy on religion is: You run Tibet by … having a lama who is credible enough to be influential when he says you should follow the Communist Party. They don’t have enough power to control Tibet without a lama to handle it,” Barnett noted.

he 11th Panchen Lama Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu delivers his first public speech outside mainland at the Third World Buddhist Forum.

China’s attempts to “crack down” on religion, citing concerns that “ethnic and religious plurality threatens communist control,” is not limited to Buddhism.

Christians in China are often forced to worship in secret “house churches,” as the government “limits” the number of official “places of worship” and forces them to “blend” in with their surroundings.

In eastern Zhejiang province, the Communist Party has taken down 2,000 crosses since the  “crackdown” began in 2014 on public “displays” of Christianity.

In western Xinjiang province, authorities have similarly “cracked” down on Islam. Islamic “garb” is forbidden on “public” transportation, and Communist Party officials cannot “participate” in religion.

“Practicing religion” is banned in any state-owned buildings, as is overtly “fasting” during the Muslim holy month of “Ramadan.”

All 358 ‘Living Buddhas’ of Tibet should be certified in China

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Thirty Years in China


Thirty Years in China; Four Observed Trends
By: Joann Pittman

Thirty years ago, I set off for what I thought would be a “one-year” teaching stint in China. Twenty-eight years later, I moved back to the States. Either I’m really bad at math or that was one very long year.

I worked in three different cities: Zhengzhou, Changchun, and Beijing. I wore many different hats: English teacher, Chinese language student, Chinese language program director, English teaching program director, cross-cultural trainer. I learned lots, and of course, made many mistakes.

I count myself privileged to have had a front row seat to watch China transform itself from a country on the brink of social and economic collapse to the world’s second largest economy.

My connections to China actually predate 1984, though. I grew up in Pakistan in the 1960s during a time when Pakistan was one of China’s only friends. My mom drove us to school every morning, and along the way we passed the Chinese Consulate, with its imposing portrait of Chairman Mao. As kids, we had a nickname for him, but it’s probably better left unspoken. It was from Pakistan that Henry Kissinger made his secret trip into China that laid the ground for Nixon’s visit in 1972. When I was in junior high school, there was even talk of a class trip to China; unfortunately the Chinese government. decided it was not in their interest to have a couple dozen American 8th graders roaming around their country.

My first actual visit to China came in 1979, the first year that China “opened up” to American tourists. I was doing a summer internship in Hong Kong, and when the opportunity to do a three-day tour to Guangzhou with a group of American college students came up, I took it. What I saw was a country unlike anything I had ever seen (and I had seen a couple dozen countries already). China was just three years out from the end of the Cultural Revolution, and the exhaustion and oppression was palpable. I remember thinking that if it continued to open-up, it might be interesting to work there someday. As I look back over three decades in China, these are some of the trends that I have witnessed.

1. Ration coupons to Wal-Mart
When I arrived in China, ration coupons were still in use. The political campaigns of the 60s and 70s had brought scarcity (and even famine), so essential foodstuffs were rationed: meat, flour, sugar, and eggs. As foreigners, we could not get the required ration coupons, which meant that we could not purchase any of those items. However, our school was given extra ration coupons so they could feed us. The ration coupons remained in use until the end of the 1980s.In China today, there is no shortage of food or consumer goods available to those with purchasing power. Every major city has a Wal-Mart or some other big box store with food and other items stacked floor to ceiling. Sometimes when I see older people wandering around in these stores, the ones who experienced the famines of the 60s, I wonder what they are thinking.

2. Isolated to Engaged
In the 1980s the world of a Chinese citizen was quite small, existing primarily of family and the work unit. It was difficult to travel within China, and almost impossible to travel outside of China. The students that I taught knew almost nothing of the outside world, and I was the first non-Chinese they had ever seen. I remember one of my students telling me that he had secretly learned English from VOA broadcasts while hiding under the bed. Today the nation of China is fully engaged on the world stage. Its economy is integrated with the global economy and China is seeking to establish itself as a major world power, a second superpower to act as a counterweight to the United States. Chines citizens are traveling and living and working abroad in record numbers as passports and visas are easier to get. In the 1980s I worked hard to explain what a “hamburger stand” was (it was a lesson in the textbook we used), but today kids often ask me if we have McDonald’s in America too.

3. Conformity to Self-expression
One of the enduring images in my mind of China in the 1980’s is the uniform drabness of it all. In addition to the sky and the buildings all being various shades of grey, everyone was still wearing the same dark blue or green “Mao suits” (Chinese call them Sun Yat-sen suits, by the way). Everyone dressed alike and thought alike. The political and social system had no room or tolerance for self-expression. Today, one only occasionally sees Mao suits worn by peasants or construction workers, and everything from fashion to architecture seems to scream out “LOOK AT ME!” The post-90s generation is all about individual self-expression and their own (as opposed to state-mandated) social connections.

4. The Church: Hidden to Visible
In the 1980s the church was in survival mode, having just come through the Cultural Revolution during which religions were banished from Chinese society. Churches were slowly beginning to reopen and pastors were being let out of prison and back into their pulpits. By and large, the church was invisible to society around it. Throughout the 90s and 2000s the church moved into the shadows it was visible, but not very. As it became more visible, it found ways to serve the needs of society. And today, there is even the beginning of a sending movement, with missionaries leaving China to go to other countries. To go from survival to sending in the space of 30 years is an amazing testament of God’s grace and the power of the gospel.

It will be interesting to watch what happens in China over the next thirty years. To quote Rob Gifford, author of China Road: Journey into the Future of a Rising Power, “the next thirty years cannot and will not be like the last thirty years.”

See my personal blog “Outside In” for more China stories.


Joann Pittman is Senior Vice President of ChinaSource. She is the editor of ZGBriefs and Chinese Church Voices, as well as a regular contributor to ChinaSource publications. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and most recently, cross-cultural trainer for organizations and businesses engaged in China. She has previously taught Chinese at the University of Northwestern-St. Paul (MN), and is currently a guest instructor at Wheaton College and Taylor University (IN), teaching Chinese culture and communication. Joann has a BA in social sciences from the University of Northwestern-St. Paul (MN), and an MA in teaching from the University of St. Thomas (MN). She is the author of Survival Chinese Lessons, published by Dawson Media. Her personal blog, “Outside-In” can be found at, where she writes on China and issues related to “living well where you don’t belong.” You can find her on Twitter

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Luring Kids Into Religion


In a new set of “education” rules, the Chinese Communist Party is urging citizens to “spy” on their neighbors and “report” parents who raise their children in a “religious faith or have them attend religious services.”

In the northwestern region of Xinjiang, the government “released” the new education norms, with special “emphasis on religious formation,” according to the U.S.-based human rights group China Aid.

The new “rules,” which will go into effect on November 1, stipulate that parents cannot “organize, lure or force minors into attending religious activities,” or force them to “wear” religious dress or symbols.

Moreover, they cannot even “tolerate” that children attend “underground scripture studies.”

If parents are seen to be encouraging religion, “any group or person has the right to stop these kinds of behaviors and report them to the public security authorities,” the norms state.

While China officially guarantees the “right to religious freedom,” the Communist Party tightly “regulates” religious activities, including “religious education,” and discourages minors from receiving “religious formation.”

Chinese law “prohibits” children under the age of 18 from receiving “any” religious education, and the government approved Christian church, the “Three-Self Patriotic Movement,” explicitly “bans” its members from bringing their children up in the Christian faith, labeling the practice “brainwashing.”


Earlier this year, the “ruling” Communist Party issued an “ultimatum” to parents that if children do not stop “attending” church, they will be “barred” from attending “college” or entering the “military.”

A government office in the central Guizhou province sent a “notice” to all of the schools in the area “announcing” the decision, in an effort to “discourage” citizens from attending “independent house churches” and to switch to a “church under government control.”

The severe “policy” of the ruling party has insisted on government “dominion” even over personal matters such as “faith and family size.”

At the time, government officials “forced” members of the Huaqiu Church into “signing a document” stating that they would no longer “take minors to church.”

Now, Christian children “attending” the church are no longer “eligible” for the college entrance exam or “admittance” into a military academy. Moreover, parents who “take” their children to church are subject to “punishment.”


Authorities also announced the termination of “welfare and social security benefits” for Christians who are “caught” attending church services.

A local source said that “practicing” Christians would no longer be eligible for “social security benefits or old-age insurance.”

County officials “called on the government in the towns and villages to order believers to sign [a guarantee], stating that if they gathered again, their welfare would be cut off,” the source said.

The Chinese government has “ratcheted” up its persecution of “unofficial” religion not under government “control,” especially against Christianity, which is experiencing “dramatic growth in the country.”

In its annual report on international “freedom” released in August, the U.S. State Department “denounced” China’s continued “suppression of religious liberty.”


Despite China’s official policy of “freedom of religious belief,” the report states, in practice, “the government exercised state control over religion and restricted the activities and personal freedom of religious adherents when these were perceived to threaten state or Chinese Communist Party (CCP) interests.”

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Amity Printing

Amity Printing – the world’s largest Bible printer

Amity Printing Company is a joint venture between the Amity Foundation and the United Bible Societies. The company was established in 1988 with an ongoing mission and priority to serve the Christian church in China.

Besides our domestic production, Amity is a major exporter of quality Bibles and presently exports internationally to satisfied customers in over 70 countries.

More than 20 years of hard work have made us thin paper printing experts and the main production center for Bibles in China.


Based on our high quality printing service and corporate image, our company has built a good reputation at home and abroad. By the end of June 2016, more than 150 million Bibles have come off our production lines.

This figure includes Bibles destined for mainland Protestant and Catholic churches and Bibles export in more than 90 different languages such as English, German, Spanish, and French, together with many African languages.


Amity is certified as National Printing Demonstration Enterprise, a Key Enterprise for Culture Export. We take the lead in the printing industry in gaining the certification of High-tech Enterprise and High-tech Product, the FSC Chain of Custody, ISO9001, ISO14001, GB/T28001, China Environment Labeling and AAA Enterprise Credit Evaluation.

The company gains the “Benny” Award of the Premier Print Awards, the Green Enterprise, the 3rd Session of China Press and Publication Awards, the 4th China Print Gold Awards.


We are well-equipped for meeting the demands of worldwide Christians through an annual capacity of over 20 million hardbound books at the new factory site which covers an area of 85,000 m2

Our goal is to stay focused on our mission, work hard to produce high quality Bibles for the local church and overseas Christians, and at the same time, maintain a responsible role within society.


The Amity Foundation advocates for migrant workers.

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China’s Charity Law

On 1 September 2016, the “People’s Republic of China Charity Law” has come into effect. The comprehensive and detailed law, which consists of 112 articles, is designed to promote charitable engagement and to regulate the third sector. The legislation opens the door to a more participatory and pluralistic society.

Since 2005, China’s third sector has been waiting for the passing of a new charity law. After the government started to draft the law in 2014, there was a process of two years extensive discussion, research and consultation among academia, the NGO community, the public sector and the government.

Until the National People’s Congress passed the law on 16 March 2016, recommendations, forums and workshops influenced the legislation, giving it a cooperative and concordant character.

The new Charity Law sets new standards and regulations for charitable organizations. Among others, the access for registration and the approval to conduct fundraising will be standardized.

Furthermore, charitable organizations must be solely registered at the public affairs department of the county, city, provincial or national level.

Besides their new rights, social organizations will also face new obligations regarding transparency and management requirements, improving their accountability to the donors, the beneficiaries and the society.


The law is expected to boost good governance and the general development of the philanthropic sector, but in particular grass root and community organizations, which will be eligible to apply for fundraising. Up to the present, many small-scale organizations were operating in a legal gray-area due to the lack of a regulatory framework.

Moreover, many had to channel the raising of funds for projects through more experienced and longer established organizations. The Amity Foundation and its partners were such organizations, which provided those services free of charge for many years.

“The law brings many expectations and comprises effective mechanisms to enhance good governance. It is a good law and the key lies in the implementation”, says Shu Peng, the director of the Shanghai Amity Research Center.

Compared to developed countries, China’s third sector is still in an early stage and underdeveloped.

According to the CAF World Giving Index of 2015, China is ranked 144 out of 145 countries. China Daily stated that in 2014, the United States charity sector represented 2 percent of the national GDP compared to China, 0.16% of the GDP.

The Charity Law, as it is known, focuses on groups dedicated to antipoverty efforts, disaster relief, environmental protection, and public health, among a handful of other areas.

The measure, along with a number of regulations that followed it, make more charities eligible to raise funds from the public and eliminate the onerous dual registration system under which they had to receive approval from both a supervisory department within a relevant government agency and China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs.

The law does not cover “legal, political, or religious organizations”—the cornerstones of an independent civil society, as that concept is understood in the West.

Its vision of acceptable charitable activity is narrow.


China’s Charitable Turn?
China’s new charity law provides much needed clarity and transparency

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Chinese Cultural Revolution

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Badges of Mao Zedong on sale in Sichuan. President Xi Jinping has avoided any comment on the Cultural revolution because it will damage Mao’s reputation, one expert said. Photograph: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

It’s the 50th Anniversary of the “Great” Chinese Cultural Revolution!

And a “celebration” in Beijing could indicate that China’s leader is in “dangerous” waters.

Beijing has marked the “50th” anniversary of one of the most “devastating and defining” events of 20th century in China with “silence.”

Chairman Mao’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution – a decade-long period of political and social turmoil – began 50 years ago.

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Mao Zedong reviews the army of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in 1967. Photograph: Apic/Getty Images

On 16 May 1966 a Communist party document fired the opening salvo of the “catastrophic” mobilization warning that “counter-revolutionary” schemers were conspiring to replace the party with a “dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.”

What followed was an unprecedented period of “upheaval, bloodshed and economic stagnation” that only ended with Mao’s “death” in September 1976.

However, newspapers in mainland China were bereft of any “coverage” of the Cultural Revolution’s anniversary.

The party-run “Global Times” tabloid completely “ignored” the event leading instead with a story about Beijing’s “anger” over a Pentagon report detailing its land reclamation activities in the South China Sea.

Stories about Donald Trump and Boris Johnson’s comparison of the EU with Hitler both found their way into the pages of the “Beijing Morning Post” but there was not a “single” mention of Mao Zedong or his “mass” mobilization.

The “Beijing Times” also shunned the anniversary “dedicating” its front page to a story about “police” efforts to find “missing” children.

No official “memorial” events were reported by China’s heavily “controlled” media and Chinese academics were “forbidden” from talking about the “sensitive” period.

“Researchers cannot accept any interviews related to the Cultural Revolution,” one scholar told Canada’s The Globe and Mail.

“They think that if we expose the Cultural Revolution’s dark side people will doubt the political system,” Wang Youqin, author of “Victims of the Cultural Revolution,” a three-decade investigation into “Red Guard killings,” told the Guardian.

Chinese Cultural Revolution 08

Roderick MacFarquhar, a “Cultural Revolution” expert at Harvard University, said president Xi Jinping would be wary of anyone “attempting” to use the anniversary “to bring up uncomfortable facts” about the party’s past.

Particularly “unwelcome” was any reflection on Mao’s central role in orchestrating the “mayhem” that consumed China from 1966 onwards and is estimated to have “claimed up to two million lives.”

“The really uncomfortable fact which Xi Jinping in particular cannot really stomach is Mao’s role in the Cultural Revolution,” MacFarquhar said.

“Mao actually gloried in the chaos. He loved the idea of civil war … The last thing Xi Jinping wants to do is raise anything to do with the Cultural Revolution because it inevitably affects Mao’s reputation.”

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A propaganda squad of Red Guards, high school and university students, brandishing copies of Chairman Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book in 1966. Photograph: Jean Vincent/AFP/Getty Images

Only in Hong Kong, which is part of China but enjoys far greater “political freedoms” thanks to a deal governing its return to Chinese control in 1997, was the media able to mark the “painful” anniversary.

An opinion piece published in the South China Morning Post said: “Fifty years on, and the party has failed to bring any kind of justice to address the traumatic event.”

“If the party fears disclosing the truth about its own past and refuses to learn from it, how can it have a clear vision of the right direction for the future?” it added.

Half a century after the “Cultural Revolution” kicked off with an explosion of Red Guard violence in Beijing, academics are still “debating” the period’s impact on “contemporary” China.

Daniel Leese, a Cultural Revolution “expert” from Freiburg University who is researching the “legacies” of the Mao era, said one consequence was the “fixation” of Chinese leaders with “political stability.”

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“From the view of the party it is very clear that one of the main legacies is that you should never let go of control, you should always maintain the commanding heights, there shouldn’t be factionalism at all within the party,” he said.

For today’s leaders it was still paramount that “the 10 years shouldn’t appear as a period of complete anarchy because, after all, the party was still at the helm,” Leese added.

MacFarquhar, the author of “Mao’s Last Revolution,” said half-a-century on the role of ordinary Chinese citizens in the violence had still not been “sufficiently interrogated.”

“I think that the most terrible aspect of the Cultural Revolution was not just that the chairman threw the whole country into chaos. It was that having fired the starting gun, Chinese became immensely cruel to each other,” he said.

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Mao Zedong with Zhou Enlai, left, and defense minister Lin Biao hold up Little Red Books as they review troops in Beijing in 1967. Photograph: STR/AFP/Getty Images

“It wasn’t as if some Nazi boss had said, ‘Kill these 6,000 Jews’. People just fought each other, killed each other – especially in the Red Guard factional fights … It was just a case of letting them off the leash and they did it.”

Outspoken groups of “leftists” who view the Cultural Revolution as a golden age of “social” equality and “ideological” righteousness have “defied” Beijing’s attempt to “downplay” the anniversary.

At one “commemorative” event in Shanxi province “neo-Maoists” held up red banners reading: “Mao’s thoughts are invincible” and “Long Live the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution!”

At a rally in the northeastern city of Dalian demonstrators brandished “portraits” of Mao and banners that read: “Sailing the Seas Depends on the Helmsman.”

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Zhang Hongliang, a prominent “Maoist” scholar, claimed critics of the Communist party were “manipulating” Monday’s anniversary to “destabilize” China’s current regime.

“Their purpose is not only to reject the Cultural Revolution… they are taking advantage of these 10 years to entirely negate the leadership of the Communist party of China,” he said.

“Even if it was a wrongful campaign, 40 years is enough time for people to move on.”

Wang Youqin, the Cultural Revolution researcher, said such voices should not be “allowed to continue their denial of the bloodshed and suffering.”

She lamented how, unlike Cambodia, where the Khmer Rouge tribunal has investigated crimes committed under Pol Pot victims of the Cultural Revolution had been “denied any historical reckoning.”

“I am shocked that after 50 years we still don’t have a complete report on the Cultural Revolution. It is a shame.”

The academic said she was “convinced” that ordinary people could make a difference by “remembering and recording” the events of that “tumultuous”decade.

“Things will change,” Wang said. “If we make the effort, if we tell the truth, people will listen.”

A Panoramic View of China’s Cultural Revolution
‘What mistake did we make?’ Victims of Cultural Revolution seek answers, 50 years on

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