Crackdown in Chinese Universities
Chinese leaders issued an order in 2011, quietly directing universities to root out foreigners suspected of plotting against the Communist Party by converting students to Christianity.
The 16-page notice, obtained in December 2012 by the U.S.-based Christian group ChinaAid, uses language from the Cold War era to depict a conspiracy by “overseas hostile forces” to infiltrate Chinese campuses under the guise of academic exchanges, while their real intention is to use religion to “westernize and divide” China.
The document suggests that, despite small signs of relaxation in recent decades, China’s ruling officials retain strong suspicions of religion as a tool of the West to threaten the Party’s authoritarian rule.
University records and official postings on college websites show that after the document was issued on May 15, 2011 many campuses began adopting the stricter restrictions it proposed. A house-church leader said that Christian students in his province began hearing about this in the fall of 2011 as university and government officials discussed how to implement the regulations.
“The notice was read out loud in Party meetings and Communist Youth League committees within colleges, but it was done orally without giving out any hard copies.” The document calls for more “education work in Marxist atheism as the foundational work in resisting infiltration and preventing campus evangelism.”
Several universities, including the North East Agricultural University in Heilongjiang, Chongqing University, and Hohhot Minorities University in Inner Mongolia, have responded with online reports about new anti-religious infiltration proposals. It is unclear whether they are simply following orders superficially or enforcing them seriously.
There are more than 290,000 foreign university students in China, including 23,000 from the U.S.
Source: Washington Post, December 18, 2012