Xi Jinping tells Communist Party to promote religion that is 'Chinese in orientation'

China's President Xi Jinping attends a welcoming ceremony for Tajikistan's President Emomali Rahmon outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China August 31, 2017. | Reuters/Jason Lee

China's President Xi Jinping has called on the Communist Party to oppose "erroneous" ideology and promote religion that is "Chinese in orientation."

In his opening speech at the national congress on Wednesday, Xi outlined his vision for China to become a "global leader" with international influence by guiding not only the country's economy and the internet but also its culture, religion and morals.

"The great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation is no walk in the park or mere drum-beating and gong-clanging," the Chinese president told hundreds of delegates in his three-and-a-half hour address.

"The whole party must be prepared to make ever more difficult and harder efforts. To achieve great dreams there must be a great struggle," he continued.

He called on party members to oppose "erroneous" ideology and said that religion must be "Chinese and orientation," and must be guided by the party to adapt to socialist society.

The national congress, which takes place every five years, was held this year at the Great Hall of the People near Tiananmen Square in Beijing and was attended by more than 2,200 members of the party's elite.

According to The Independent, the theme of the congress centered on the idea that the party should remain true to its original aspiration, hold high the banner of socialism, and secure a decisive victory in the battle to build a moderately prosperous society.

Xi is expected to be formally granted another five years in power as the party's general secretary within a week.

Over the past year, the Chinese president has urged party members to "Sinicise" — or bring under Chinese tradition — the country's ethnic and religious minorities in an effort to prevent religious "extremism."

Last week, the party's official People's Daily published an article warning Communist Party officials not to "pray to god" or "fraternize" with religious leaders, reminding them that "Communism begins from the outset with atheism."

"Superstition is thought pollution and spiritual anesthesia that cannot be underestimated and must be thoroughly purged," the article said, according to Gospel Herald.

The article further noted that although freedom of religion is guaranteed in the constitution, party members must adhere to atheism.

In the latest issue of the Party's flagship magazine, Qiuishi Journal, Wang Zuoan, director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, stressed that party members should be "firm Marxist atheists, obey party rules and stick to the party's faith... They are not allowed to seek value and belief in religion."

Xi has previously warned that religious influences could infiltrate the country from abroad. Due to the Chinese government's restrictions on religion, Christian charity Open Doors has ranked the nation as the 39th worst country in the world for Christian persecution.