Police warn against illegal 'spiritual cultivation'

Updated: Mar 26, 2024 China Daily Print
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Police have warned against illegal activities posing as "spiritual cultivation".

An officer from the Ministry of Public Security said that such activities often borrow concepts from psychology, success theory and modern technology to fabricate courses promoting false ideas such as communicating with gods, shaping souls and accumulating wealth through spiritual practices.

The organizations involved employ methods like isolating participants, hypnosis, brainwashing, self-denial and indoctrination to exert mental control. They also recruit and exploit participants through methods like membership, franchising and pyramid schemes to accumulate significant wealth.

Some people in the organizations have committed crimes such as illegal detention, rape and molestation.

Police have investigated the crimes of 269 individuals linked to such activities and confiscated over 217 million yuan ($30.1 million) in illegal gains since 2018, according to China Police Daily, a publication under the administration of the Ministry of Public Security.

In recent years, public security organs have paid close attention to activities suspected of violating the law under the guise of "spiritual cultivation". Special police forces have been organized to crack down on organizations engaged in such activities, which may use labels like "soul healing", "unleashing potential" and "extraterrestrial civilization".

Since 2019, police in provinces such as Guangdong, Shaanxi, Jiangsu, Fujian, Yunnan and Shandong have dealt with multiple organizations of this nature. Those in key positions have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from five to 17 years for crimes including illegal business operations, exploiting superstition to break the law, fraud and rape.

Such activities pose significant threats to public health and social stability, the officer said. Some individuals and organizations continue to disguise themselves, and police urge the public to recognize the true nature and dangers of such activities.

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