Online cult activity faces tougher punishments
China has stepped up efforts to punish those who promote cults online and via social media.
Chinese law defines a cult is an illegal organization that tries to control people by deifying the sect leader; deludes members under the guise of religion or in other names; and engages in activities that harm society.
According to the judicial interpretation, which will take effect on Feb 1, those who use online chat rooms and social media platforms such as WeChat for cult-related activities may face imprisonment, as can those who print cult messages on bank notes.
Cult members who have foreign connections, recruit people in other areas, carry out cult activities at key festivals, preach to minors or work as civil servants will be severely punished, the judicial interpretation stated.
Meanwhile, people who repent joining cults will be handled leniently. Those who were tricked or forced into joining a cult will be exempt from punishment.