Beijing: Ordering officials to resolutely guard against "overseas infiltrations" into China in the name of religion, President Xi Jinping has asserted that people of all faiths in the country should not challenge the leadership of the ruling Communist Party, the state media reported today.
"We must resolutely guard against overseas infiltrations via religious means and prevent ideological infringement by extremists," Xi told told a top-level meeting on managing religion in the world's most populous nation.
He laid out a broad guidelines under which millions of believers in China, including Buddhists and Christians, should carry out their faith without challenging the CPC's rule.
Xi said religious groups must adhere to the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), and support the socialist system and socialism with Chinese characteristic called on authorities to stick to the Party's religious policies and improve religious work.
He said they should "merge religious doctrines with Chinese culture, abide by Chinese laws and regulations, and devote themselves to China's reform and opening up drive and socialist modernisation in order to contribute to the realisation of the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation.
His warning against infiltration through religion was seen as a reference to the role played by Christianity in the fall of Communism specially in erstwhile socialist countries like Poland.
CPC, which has liberalised its economic ideology by carrying out widespread economic reforms shedding its socialistic identity, remained atheistic and views spread of religion as a threat to its future.
While China before the advent of Communist rule in 1949 was predominantly influenced by Buddhism which was brought to the country by eminent Chinese monks like Xuan Zang during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), Christianity has taken deep routes in the country in recent decades despite restrictions.
While Buddhism remained a dominant faith, Christianity is regarded as the fastest growing religion in Communist China.
Unofficial estimates said China has over 65 million Christians including Catholics, Protestants as well as other church groups. In view of restrictions and limited number of Churches, most of the Christians pray at home churches which are considered illegal.
Church groups recently alleged that Crosses have been removed from a dozens of Churches in eastern Zhejiang province.