China will crack down further on what it calls “cults” with a new judicial interpretation released on Wednesday mandating harsh punishments for groups proselytising to government officials or children or linking up with foreign groups.
China’s officially atheist Communist Party does not tolerate challenges to its rule. It prizes social stability and religious activities must be state sanctioned.
Authorities have gone after what they view as cults, which have multiplied in recent years, and demonstrations have been put down with force and some sect leaders executed.
The judicial interpretation, release by the Supreme People’s Court and state prosecutor, list seven areas for which offenders will face tough penalties, including carrying out cult activities in public or trying to recruit children or state bureaucrats.