Chinese citizens warmed up their vocal chords to celebrate the Chinese Communist Party’s 90th anniversary on Friday, July 1, by preparing a repertoire of patriotic songs for the big day. Much to the surprise of our Observer on the ground, even the country’s once ostracised Buddhist monks are rehearsing for the celebrations, despite their difficult past under the communist regime.
Created on July 1, 1921, the Chinese Communist Party at first strove to accept religious practices within its borders. This tolerance, however, would come to an end in 1966 with the Party’s infamous “Cultural Revolution”, which led to a policy to rid the country of any traces of religion. Relics and places of prayer were systematically destroyed, and religious figures even assassinated.
Since the 1980s, Beijing has softened its stance on the issue, even going as far as to recognise five official religions – Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, as well as the Protestant and Catholic churches – which are still tightly controlled by the government, but no longer illegal to practice.
A recent article published in the People’s Daily, which was quoted by the state news agency Xinhua, explains the Party’s position on religion. Although the government is officially atheist, it recognises that a belief system is an important historical phenomenon, and its goal is to therefore encourage the “harmonious” co-existence of believers and non believers in the country.
The celebrations in honour of the Chinese Communist Party
promise to be grandiose. Book store shelves are already overflowing with biographies on the Party’s main historical figures, and over the last few days concerts have been organised all over China in an effort to revive some good, old “Red Songs” from the Party’s heyday.