China Communist Party reinforces ban on superstitions

AFP-JIJI

China’s ruling Communist Party has tightened its ban on members believing in “feudal superstitions,” state media said, as part of new regulations on discipline.

President Xi Jinping, whose power derives from his position as the ruling party’s general secretary, has been tightening his control on the organization in recent months alongside a much-publicized anti-corruption drive.

Xi has demanded closer adherence to ideological teachings from its 88 million members and warned them against publicly questioning official policies.

Superstitious practices, such as reliance on fortune telling and the traditional Chinese practice of feng shui, go against the party’s core belief in Marxism, which claims to be founded on the scientific method.

A number of high-level party officials have been accused of participating in superstitious practices in recent years.

Zhou Yongkang, the former head of domestic security and the highest official to fall in the anti-graft campaign, sought advice from Cao Yongzheng, a fortune teller and master of the Chinese meditation practice of “qigong.” Cao later testified against Zhou during his trial.

The new party rules, which came into force on January 1, threaten members who “organize” superstitious activities with expulsion, while those who merely participate in them face warnings, the Xinhua News Agency said Sunday.

The language is stronger than a previous 2003 version of party rules, when “feudal superstition” was included under the broader heading of activities that “disturb productivity, work, or the social order.”

The new rules put “feudal superstitions” into its own category, making it a distinct violation of party discipline. But the organization has been seeking to purge it from its ranks since the days of Mao Zedong.