Peng Bo, China’s anti-cult tsar, was arrested on corruption charges after being expelled from the party

Peng Bo, most recently deputy director of the Chinese central government’s anti-cult office, was expelled from the Chinese Communist Party and jailed on corruption charges, media reports say.

Peng, 64, was deputy director of China’s Central Political and Legal Commission from 2015 to 2018, as the newspaper in the South China Morning Post said, was the party’s “top law enforcement agency” and was responsible for “online surveillance and policing” of so-called cults, including Falun Gong or Falun Dafa, movement.

According to the news report, Peng was investigated by the Central Commission for Disciplinary Inspection beginning in March. On August 17, he was deprived of his party membership because he had “lost his faith and was disloyal to the party,” a CCDI statement said.

Mr. Peng “used his authority for his personal gain, sought benefits from Internet companies, resisted party investigations, and participated in superstitious activities,” the newspaper quoted in the CCDI statement.

The statement added: “He violated the eight-point requirements for frugal living, visited private clubs frequently and accepted invitations to extravagant banquets and dinners.”

According to the South China Morning Post, Mr. Peng’s alleged mistake occurred while he was deputy head of the Cyberspace Administration in China.

In the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, Mr. Peng blamed police for groups labeled “xie jiao,” commonly translated as “evil cults,” but more accurately rendered as “heterodox teachings,” according to Bitter Winter, a site that tracks religious freedom issues.

The Bitter Winter account said efforts against the “xie jiao” groups were usually unsuccessful among the public.

Black propaganda, arrests, and even executions failed to eradicate movements marked as xie jiao that have been active in China for decades, such as the Church of Almighty God and Falun Gong (whose meditation to strengthen the immune system made it popular again during COVID-19 crisis), or to prevent the birth and growth of new ‘heterodox’ religious groups, ”noted author Gao Zihao.

Persecution of minority religions – as well as those who do not want to submit to government control over religious activity – has been a major problem in China in recent years.

The predominantly Muslim population of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in northwestern China has been subjected to brutal treatment, including imprisonment in so-called “education centers”, where the party’s attempts to persuade the Uighurs to renounce their faith.

Falun Gong practitioners have been tortured and imprisoned, and non-compliant Christian churches have been searched, closed, and even demolished.

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