Recently, a local authority in northeastern China announced financial rewards to people who report “illegal religious activities”.
The Meilisi Daur District United Front Work Department of Qiqihar, Heilongjiang Province, released "The Reward System For Reporting Illegal Religious Activities Offences" on Monday, saying that informants could be paid up to 1,000 yuan (US$150) for tips about illicit foreign infiltration.
Under the new reward scheme in Qiqihar, whistle-blowers can earn from 500 to 1,000 yuan for reports about unqualified religious personnel, unauthorized trans-regional activities, preaching and distributing printed religious works, audio-visual products outside places of worship, unauthorized donations, or private house gatherings, according to the statement.
The measures aim to “strengthen the control of illegal religious activities in the district, prevent any COVID-19 cluster resulting from religious gatherings, mobilize the public to engage in preventing, suppressing illegal religious activities, and ensure a harmonious and stable religious landscape”, the announcement said.
Reporting can be made through phone calls, emails, and letters.
Similar reward systems were also offered by the Boshan District in Zibo the next day, and Weihai City, Shandong, on August 8, respectively.
The latter stated that unauthorized religious training and summer or winter camps attended by minors, or any evangelistic activity for “parenting purposes”, should be reported. Unapproved Internet religious information, religious donation campaigns that violate the law, and charitable activities for evangelism would be also included.
Since last year, some city and county governments in other places such as Fujian, Guangxi, Henan, Hebei and Liaoning have been offering financial incentives for tip-off providers.