Shanghai: Known as “China's Jerusalem” for its prominent Christian population, Wenzhou city's chapter of the Communist Party of China (CCP), will expel any party member who practices religion, the official newspaper Global Times reported on Friday.
The decision came during an especially difficult moment for Christian communities in the eastern province of Zhejiang, as churches have been demolished, crosses removed and dozens of temples affected by an official campaign that started in 2014.
Global Times reported that the CCP constitution states that its members -- currently exceeding 86 million -- must not be believers of any creed, although in reality many of its members practice religion.
According to the official newspaper, the CCP committee in Wenzhou will focus mostly on eliminating the "problem" of "secret practice of religion", especially among its members.
However, the local party unit in the “Jerusalem of the East” has given no details about which religions will be targeted, as Buddhism and Taoism extend throughout the country.
The campaign will focus on monitoring the conduct of Wenzhou Communists, especially in the fields of health and education, particularly in universities.
"Whoever loses loyalty in the party will be expelled," the committee said as interpreted by Global Times.
China and the Vatican broke diplomatic relations in 1951, when Rome announced that the only legitimate government in the Republic of China was that under Chiang Kai-shek, who took refuge in Taiwan after losing the civil war to the Communists in 1949.
China has between eight and 12 million Catholics, about one-half of whom are thought to belong to the official Patriotic Church of China, which does not observe papal authority, while the other half are faithful to the Vatican.