City in Hebei Encourages Citizens to Report Religious Gathering

01/11/2021 China (International Christian Concern) – In the name of pandemic prevention, the authorities in China’s Hebei province are encouraging citizens in Xingtai city to report any religious activities in exchange of a monetary reward.

According to a document shared by Father Francis Liu from Chinese Christian fellowship of Righteousness, given that the leadership in the government has given a directive to ban both “religious venues” and “religious gatherings” for disease prevention, the United Front Department of Xingtai city, together with local Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau, decided to implement a tip-off system with reward beginning January 9.

The notice encourages the society to report any religious venue that is operating and religious activities—especially those held at Buddhist halls, gathering spots, and within homes. Once it is verified, the informant can receive a reward of RMB 500 (USD $77) or more.

This is not the first time Xingtai city is soliciting its residents’ help to clamp down on “illegal religious activities.” In July 2019, the same authorities already asked people to report religious buildings and activities not approved by the state. Although in its notice it did not specify which religion, house churches fell into this category and were targeted by the government.