The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is offering money to the people of Inner Mongolia to denounce their fellow citizens who profess an “illegal” religion, within the framework of the recognized religious persecutions that occur in China.

The Bitter Winter site reported that the CCP published a “Manual of the Informer,” in which it gives “advice” on identifying “dangerous” believers and gives them a reward for reporting them.

According to the online magazine specializing in religious freedom and human rights in China, the manual was launched in Dongsheng district in the city Ordos, but is being announced throughout the country.

The official title of the handbook is “Announcement on the Reward for Reporting Xie Jiao’s Illegal and Criminal Activities by People in Dongsheng District of Ordos City, Inner Mongolia” (click here to see the image of the handbook).

What is an ‘xie jiao’?

The expression “xie jiao” has been used in China since the late Ming Dynasty and means “heterodox teachings.” However, according to Bitter Winter, the CCP has changed the meaning and translated it as “evil sects,” using this label to target those beliefs and religions that remain independent and outside the intervention of the CCP.

The Chinese Communist Party prohibits these beliefs and, under the excuse that they are xie jiao, persecutes their followers. Being part of a xie jiao, is punished with severe prison sentences, stipulated in Article 300 of the Chinese Criminal Code.

Article 300 punishes those who “use” a xie jiao, with three- to seven-year  prison terms “or more.” According to the website specializing in religious freedom in China, in some cases, possession of literature belonging to a xie jiao, is considered sufficient grounds for the application of Article 300.

Corrupting society

Many religions and beliefs labeled by the CCP as xie jiao, are in fact totally peaceful and do not represent any danger to society. This is why the CCP relies heavily on informants to arrest members of a xie jiao and offers money to informants in exchange for turning in these people of faith.

However, it seems that the informants “are not very skilled, or the CCP is not totally happy with their performances. So, the CCP decided it needed better informers,” said Massimo Introvigne, director general of the Center for New Religious Studies, in explaining the possible reasons for the launch of the handbook.

“This is a sordid business, where informers are trained to report, for money, against people who may be their neighbors or friends, and who will be arrested, detained, and tortured,” the Introvigne said. 

“The manual shows that the CCP carries on this business openly, and without shame,” he added.

The informant’s manual

“The text reminds citizens that informing on xie jiao is a good deal,” Introvigne said in his column published in Bitter Winter.

“After the clues are verified, the clues will be graded according to their importance, and the role played in the investigation of the case. If a public security administrative case is prosecuted based on the clues, the informer will be rewarded with RMB 500 [US$73] for each case. If a criminal case is prosecuted based on the clues, a reward of 2,000 yuan [$294] will be given to the informer. If a major criminal case is prosecuted based on the clues, a reward of 10,000 yuan [US$1,468] will be given to the informer,” the manual states.

The question, however, is how does the informant recognize a member of a xie jiao?

As described by Introvigne, who specializes in the study of new religious movements, the manual uses standard anti-sectarian rhetoric, proclaiming that “xie jiao carry out illegal activities under the banner of religion,” “xie jiao organize activities sneakily,” “xie jiao tout their leaders as the supreme ‘god.’”

However, Introvigne stated, “By these standards, all religions may be identified as xie jiao if the CCP so decides.”

“Christianity in general regards Jesus as God. Protestant house churches and Catholic conscientious objectors who refuse to join the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association also technically ‘carry out illegal activities’ in China,” Introvigne explained, lamenting that the devotees of the ‘illegal’ religions are forced to meet in secret due to persecution by the CCP.

“They would be glad to be allowed to practice their religions freely and openly,” he said.

So, to prevent readers from wrongly determining which organization is or is not a xie jiao, the manual explains that the CCP is most interested in fighting three groups: the Church of God Almighty, the Disciples Association, and the ancient Chinese discipline called Falun Dafa (also known as Falun Gong).

The CCP Sect

The paradox, if you will, is that the descriptions given by the CCP about what it considers a xie jiao, in the words of Introvigne, fit surprisingly well with the CCP’s doctrines.

“The CCP itself, while not using the word “god,” has made extravagant claims and promoted the personality cult of its leaders, from Chairman Mao to Xi Jinping,”  Introvigne pointed out, describing that the statues of the communist leaders have even been enshrined in temples.

In the same way, the manual describes a xie jiao as one who makes “a fraudulent use of the name of religion,” worship of a leader, “brainwashing,” request for money, and “harm to society.”

“‘Worshiping the leader,’ ‘requesting money’ in the shape of bribes, psychological pressure, and indoctrination, and ‘harming society’ are more obvious characteristics of the CCP than of any religious group active in China,” Introvigne argued.

“By applying its own standards, it would not be difficult to argue that the CCP is itself a xie jiao,” Introvigne concluded.