Editorial: New regulations for online content cause uncertainty for China’s Christians

18 January 2022

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As of March 2022 the Chinese authorities will have greater control over online religious content.

New regulations, which will come into force on 1 March 2022, require organisations and individuals wishing to provide religious information online to gain permission from their local Department of Religious Affairs office.

Foreign organisations and individuals will not be permitted to operate online religious information services within Chinese territory.

Chinese Christians rely on online content when, owing to the pandemic, in-person services are no longer possible [Image credit: China Christian Daily] 

Such regulations are understandable in an age in which religious extremists often use online material to radicalise others or to incite violence and terrorism.

Concerns about foreign interference are common to nation states across the world, not just China.

Yet the regulations may have an adverse impact on Chinese Christians who are not planning anything dangerous or subversive.

This is especially the case when churches, of necessity, move their activities online in response to the ongoing Covid-19 situation.

The impact of these regulations remains to be seen, but for now we must pray that they do not unduly punish Christians who only want to practise their faith in peace and sincerity.

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