China’s New Institutional Reform: State Ethnic Affairs Commission Integrated into United Front Work Department

By Ruth Wang, March 22, 2018 15:03 PM

Deputy Division Chief Wei Yanjun and Section Chief Zhang Zhenyang from the State Administration for Religious Affairs investigated Henan Bible Junior School on August 17, 2017. (CCC&TSPM)

Recently the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee released a plan on deepening reform of Party and state institutions. According to the plan, the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee is in charge of religious affairs and the State Administration for Religious Affairs is integrated into the former. The SARA logo is still hung in the department. 

The plan says that the United Front Work Department is responsible for complementing the Party's basic policy and rules on religious work, studying and drafting policy measures on religious work and supervising the implementation, coordinating overall religious work, managing religious administrative affairs in accordance with the law, protecting freedom of religious belief and normal religious activities, as well as cementing and enhancing the patriotic united front within religious circles. 

Meanwhile, the duties of the central leading group for the defense and management of cult issues were transferred to the Committee for Political and Legal Affairs of the CPC Central Committee and the Ministry of Public Security.

After the adjustment, the main responsibility of the Committee of Political and Legal Affairs in preventing and handling cult issues is to coordinate and guide related departments in anti-cult work, analyzing and judging relevant circumstances and information and proposing policy recommendations to the Party and coordinating and addressing severe emergencies. 

Concerning cult matters, the job of the Ministry of Public Security is to collect cases of religious cults impacting social stability and harming the public order and crack down on crime and other violations committed by cult organizations according to law. 

The plan was approved at the third plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee. In March 2018, the Communist Party of China (CPC) unveiled the plan and asked all regions and departments to carry it out. 

- Translated by Karen Luo

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