Resource Information Center


China

Response to Information Request Number: CHN99002.ZNK
Date: 13 October 1998
Subject: China: 1) Affiliating With Foreign Churches While Abroad 2) Information On Whether Chinese Companies Hold Passports Of Chinese Workers Overseas
From: INS Resource Information Center, Washington, DC
Keywords: China / Freedom Of Religion / Religious Conflicts / Right To A Passport / Travel Documents

Query:

1.  Is there a law against affiliating with a foreign church or its members, and, if so, could it be used to accuse one of being influenced by a foreign religious power?

2.  Do Chinese work units abroad hold the passports of their Chinese workers?

3.  If the Chinese workers are not allowed to hold their passports in a foreign country, are they allowed to obtain their passport from their work unit if they wish to travel to a destination other than China?

Response:

Article 36 of the 1982 Chinese Constitution states that citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief, but that "Religious bodies and religious affairs are not subject to any foreign domination" (Constitution, Art. 36).

On January 31, 1994, Premier Li Peng signed two sets of religious regulations, including No. 145 On the Management of Places for Religious Activities. While these regulations included some new guarantees to protect human rights, they also consolidated restrictions on religious activities which "undermine national unity and social stability," which, according to Amnesty International, is "a formulation that leaves room for wide interpretation." Regulation No. 145 excludes activities deemed to be "disrupting public order, impairing the health of citizens and interfering with the state educational system", and "foreign domination" over religious bodies or affairs in China (AI Jul. 1996, 3-4, HRW/Asia, December 1995, 7).

The new regulation emphasizes the Chinese administrative policy of "three-self" which requires all churches, without exception, to be totally independent of foreign influence, that they be self-administrating, self-supporting, and self-propagating. (HRW/Asia, December 1995, 7).

Thus, it is Chinese policy to keep religions in China free of foreign influence. However, information on whether Chinese abroad who practice religion are accused of violation of this policy could not be found among the sources currently available to the RIC.

Information on whether Chinese work units hold passports of its workers while they are assigned to work overseas could not be found among sources currently available to the RIC. A spokesperson at the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Washington stated that he did not know whether companies overseas held the passports of their workers. A spokesperson at the United States Department of State stated that each company probably has its own policy on this.

This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the RIC within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.

References:

Amnesty International. July 1996. "People's Republic of China: Religious Repression in China." AI Index: ASA 17/69/96). London: Amnesty International.

Constitution Of The People's Republic Of China, adopted 04 December 1982 .(REFWORLD)

Human Rights Watch (HRW)/Asia. December 1995. Vol. 7, No. 16. China: Religious Persecution Persists. New York: Human Rights Watch.

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