Chinese officials in at least two provinces have asked citizens to provide the government with evidence or reports of illegal religious activities in exchange for money.
In the populous Henan province, the government of Gushi county has asked people to provide them with photos, recordings, or other materials evidencing illegal religious activity, in exchange for a sum equaling roughly 70 U.S. dollars. Governments in other parts of the province are offering monetary rewards as well, including in the cities of Shangqiu, Jiyuan, and Mengzhou.
In the province of Hubei, officials held a meeting in June with the leaders of the area's Three-Self Patriotic churches, which are state-run protestant churches.
"Officials told us that since we don't have money to give to the government, we should encourage believers to spy on unregistered ... venues and collect rewards for this," a clergy person who attended the meeting told media outlet Bitter Winter. "We would get enough money after several such reports, they said. We do know who attends house churches, but we won't do things against our conscience. Everyone must have the right to practice their faith."
A government official explained the proposition to Bitter Winter.
"The government exerts strict control not only to curb the development of Three-Self churches but also ban house churches, for fear that they will help topple the regime," the official said.