The CCP suppresses religious groups that aren’t under its control under the pretext of “cleaning up gang crime and eliminating evil.”
In January 2018, the CCP issued its Notice on Launching a Special Battle to Clean Up Gang Crime and Eliminate Evil. After one year and four months since then, slogans and catchphrases about “cleaning up gang crime and eliminating evil” have spread across China, from rural areas to cities. In fact, however, the authorities have continuously suppressed and persecuted religious believers under this pretense.
On April 16, a district of Fuzhou city, in southeast province of Fujian, held a secret meeting about “cleaning up gang crime and eliminating evil.” Each village within the jurisdiction was required to designate a specially-assigned person who will be in charge of investigating xie jiao members, requiring detailed information to be documented and promptly reported. The CCP places independent religious groups that are rapidly growing and it believes pose a threat to its regime on its list of the xie jiao. The groups included in the list are mercilessly persecuted. Falun Gong, The Church of Almighty God, the Shouters, and other religious groups have been included in the list.
A grid administrator told Bitter Winter that, on April 17, he received a notice from his superiors, demanding that he investigate the members of xie jiao in the area for which he is responsible, and report his findings within one week. Should he not reply, he was told, he would be regarded as “having negative intent,” which carries serious consequences. Under pressure, he had no choice but to actively cooperate.
He told Bitter Winter that, “Believers from The Church of Almighty God who were previously arrested and have been released are the main targets of this investigation. As soon as it is determined that they still believe in Almighty God, they must be re-arrested and sentenced. If a person believes in Almighty God, all their close relatives will also become investigative targets. It is a case of ‘guilt by association.’”
He also revealed that all religious groups that aren’t controlled by, or are disobedient to, the CCP, even if not included in the list of xie jiao (including house church believers and dissident Catholics who refuse to join the Patriotic Catholic Association) are targeted for investigation and arrest on the grounds of “cleaning up gang crime and eliminating evil.”
He further explained, “The government emphasized that the ‘evil forces’ have two main characteristics. The first is that they have three or more relatively fixed members. The second is that they often gather together. Therefore, anyone who believes in God [outside the five authorized religions] falls within the scope of ‘cleaning up gang crime and eliminating evil.’ Because they usually hold secret gatherings of three to five people, and the gatherings are regular.”
Although the “special battle to clean up gang crime and eliminate evil” has been waging for more than a year, the CCP is still pushing ahead in full force, and has incited the population to report “criminals” and provide leads. The CCP has even adopted a system in which informants are rewarded for each case.
Just as Bitter Winter previously reported, “cleaning up gang crime and eliminating evil” has become yet another means for Xi Jinping to crack down on religious belief.