"They want complete surrender. That's communism."
"More and more, the Church [is] under persecution," Cardinal Zen said, "both the official Church, and the underground."
Guidance from the Vatican recognizes the choice of those who feel that they cannot in good conscience register with the government and accept sinicization. However, reports indicate that those who decline to register are facing harassment and persecution.
A report by the Congressional China Commission, issued in January, noted that human rights abuses intensified in China during the 2019 reporting year, and the persecution of Catholics worsened after the Vatican-China deal was reached.
"After the PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs signed an agreement with the Holy See in September 2018 paving the way for unifying the state-sanctioned and underground Catholic communities, local Chinese authorities subjected Catholic believers in China to increasing persecution by demolishing churches, removing crosses, and continuing to detain underground clergy" the report read.
In December 2019 Bishop John Fang Xingyao of Linyi, president of the CPCA, said that "love for the homeland must be greater than the love for the Church and the law of the country is above canon law." He was speaking at a Beijing meeting sponsored by the Chinese Communist Party.
New restrictions on religious groups in China went into effect Feb. 1. These include a mandate to implement socialst values, spread the principles of the Chinese Communist Party and support its leaders, and adhere to the path of Chinese socialism.
Religious freedom is officially guaranteed by the Chinese constitution, but religious groups must register with the government, and are overseen by the Chinese Communist Party. The Sinizication of religion has been pushed by President Xi Jinping, who took power in 2013 and who has strengthened government oversight of religious activities.
In 2017, Xi said that religions not sufficiently conformed to communist ideals pose a threat to the country's government, and therefore must become more "Chinese-oriented." Since he took power, crosses have been removed from an estimated 1,500 church buildings.
And a government official who oversees religious affairs said in April 2018 that government restrictions on bishop appointments are not a violation of religious freedom, as he emphasized that religions in China must "adapt to socialist society." The official, Chen Zongrong, added that "I believe there is no religion in human society that transcends nations."
Restrictions put in place in February 2018 made it illegal for anyone under age 18 to enter a church building.
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Muslims, too, have come under pressure from the Chinese government. It is believed that as many as 1 million Uyghurs, a Muslim ethnoreligious group in China's far west, are being detained in re-education camps where they are reportedly subjected to forced labor, torture, and political indoctrination.