Anhui Government Amends Provincial Religious Regulation
The Anhui Province People's Congress Standing Committee issued a decision on June 29 that amended its 1999 Anhui Province Regulation on Religious Affairs. The decision made the Anhui government the fifth provincial-level government to amend or issue a new comprehensive regulation on religious affairs since the national Regulation on Religious Affairs (RRA) entered into force in March 2005.
The Anhui Province People's Congress Standing Committee issued a decision on June 29 that amended its 1999 Anhui Province Regulation on Religious Affairs. The decision made the Anhui government the fifth provincial-level government to amend or issue a new comprehensive regulation on religious affairs since the national Regulation on Religious Affairs (RRA) entered into force in March 2005. Henan and Shanxi provinces both issued new regulations in July 2005, and Shanghai municipality and Zhejiang province amended earlier regulations in April 2005 and March 2006, respectively.
The Anhui decision makes only a few amendments to the original regulation, in contrast to the detailed amendments issued in Shanghai and Zhejiang. The decision reflects a modest decentralization of authority, but nonetheless maintains strict controls over registered religious communities. Article 14 now specifies that when registered clergy are invited to lead "religious activities" in other provinces or outside clergy are invited to Anhui, the relevant religious organization within a given city must notify the city-level religious affairs bureau (RAB) after the religious organization has approved the invitation. The regulation previously required a provincial-level religious organization to approve the invitation and notify the provincial RAB of the event. The second amendment, to Article 34, removes a previous requirement that students applying to religious institutions outside the province must report their application for the record to the provincial RAB. To attend an out-of-province religious institution, such applicants still must obtain a recommendation from the provincial-level religious organization.
The amended Anhui regulation retains provisions that differ from the national RRA. Although Article 13 of the RRA and a related new national regulation stipulate new procedures for registering religious venues, Article 19 of the Anhui regulation continues to refer to a now-annulled regulation in its registration procedures. In addition, Article 2 of the Anhui regulation retains a reference to five recognized religions, although the RRA does not include such a reference. Shanghai and Zhejiang amended their regulations to remove previous mentions of the five religions, although the new regulation from Henan refers to them.
Inconsistencies between local and national regulations on religion, as well as the failure of many provinces to amend or issue new regulations, call into question government efforts to promote implementation of the RRA. In some cases, such variations in religious regulations and religious policy can result in greater accommodation of religious communities. For example, regulations from Heilongjiang province and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (IMAR) recognize the Orthodox Church, even though central government policy does not. In addition, local authorities have registered Orthodox communities in cities in Heilongjiang, the IMAR, and the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. At the same time, such inconsistencies cause uncertainty about government actions regarding religion and can result in a more restrictive environment for religious practice than already provided for under the national RRA.
For more information on religion in China, see section V(d), Freedom of Religion, in the CECC 2006 Annual Report.
PARA. 2 Amendments 一、第十四条第三款修改为：“本省宗教教职人员应邀到外省或者外省宗教教职人员应邀到本省主持宗教活动，应当经本省有关设区的市宗教团体同意，并由该宗教 团体报设区的市宗教事务部门备案。” 二、第三十四条第二款修改为：“报考省外宗教院校的，须经省宗教团体推荐。” Original text: 第十四条 宗教教职人员可以依照本教规定的职责，在依法登记的宗教活动场所主持宗教活动。未经认定并备案的人员，不得以宗教教职人员身份主持宗教活动。 宗教教职人员应邀到本教务活动区域外的省内其他地方主持宗教活动，须经其所属的宗教团体和到达地的县以上宗教团体同意，并由有关宗教团体报到达地的县级以 上人民政府宗教事务部门备案。 本省宗教教职人员应邀到外省或者外省宗教教职人员应邀到本省主持宗教活动，应当经本省有关宗教团体同意，并由该宗教团体报省宗教事务部门备案。 第三十四条 宗教院校招收学员，由宗教团体推荐并征求县级以上人民政府宗教事务部门的意见，通过考试，择优录取。 报考省外宗教院校的，须经省宗教团体推荐，报省人民政府宗教事务部门备案。 PARA. 3 * For a description of old and new registration processes, see my description of it in an older blurb (CMS 49669): Article 13 of the RRA sets forth an application process whereby religious organizations first apply to the county-level RAB to "prepare" to establish a venue for religious activities. This RAB has 30 days to consider the case before submitting it to the [prefectural] city-level RAB. It has 30 days to consider the case before submitting it to the provincial-level RAB, which has 30 days to make a final decision. If an "other fixed venue for religious activities" is under consideration, the [prefectural] city-level authorities issue the final decision. Article 14 sets forth a number of conditions to be met in order to establish a venue, including local religious believers having "a need to frequently carry out collective religious activities." Under the now-annulled 1994 Measures on the Registration of Venues for Religious Activity, the venue applying to register submitted an application to the RAB at the county-level or higher, which had 15 days to consider whether to proceed with the application and 60 days to make a final decision on whether to grant registration. Under the new Measures on the Examination, Approval, and Registration of Venues for Religious Activity, establishing a venue for religious activity "in general" (article 3) involves a religious organization submitting an application to the county-level RAB. The Measures do not stipulate time limits or state that the application goes up through the levels of local government. The Measures also establish a two-part process whereby a religious organization applies first to the county-level RAB to "prepare" to establish a venue, and then applies to the same RAB to register the venue. * The Anhui reg: 第十九条 设立宗教活动场所，应按照国务院《宗教活动场所管理条例》的规定，向县级以上人民政府宗教事务部门申请登记。宗教事务部门应统筹规划，依法做好宗教活动场 所登记工作。 But see Article 48 of the national RRA, which annuls the《宗教活动场所管理条例》: 第四十八条 本条例自2005年3月1日起施行。1994年1月31日国务院发布的《宗教活动场所管理条例》同时废止。 * Anhui reference to 5 religions: 第二条 本条例所称宗教，指佛教、道教、伊斯兰教、天主教和基督教。 * References elsewhere: see older blurb (CMS 49669): The absence of such mention [of the 5 religions] in the RRA has led some observers to wonder if the Chinese government will recognize additional religions.... # Article 2 of the new Henan regulation states that "'Religion,' as used in this regulation, refers to Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism." # The newly amended Shanghai regulation and the newly amended Zhejiang regulation do not state that Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism constitute China's officially approved religions, but article 3 of the original 1995 Shanghai regulation and article 2 of the original 1997 Zhejiang regulation defined religion to mean these five religions. Article 9 of the original Shanghai regulation also defined "religious organizations" to mean China's patriotic religious associations associated with each religion, as well as "other legally established religious organizations" within Shanghai. Article 15 of this regulation defined religious personnel to mean clergy affiliated with the five religions, as did article 13 of the original Zhejiang regulation. PARA.4 * Some text based on language in AR 2006 religion section. * Heilongjiang and Inner Mongolia: From older blurb: Among provincial-level areas, the Heilongjiang Regulation on the Management of Religious Affairs recognizes the Orthodox Church. Article 2 states, "'Religious affairs' as used in this regulation refers to the public and social affairs existing between the state, society, and masses [on the one hand,] and Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Orthodoxy [on the other]." The Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Implementing Measures for the Management of Venues for Religious Activity also recognizes the Orthodox Church. Article 2 states, "'Venues for religious activity' refers to Buddhist temples and convents, Daoist temples, Islamic mosques, Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant churches, and other fixed points for simple religious activity."