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Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review

Volume 11, Issue 1, 2020

Chinese New Religions

ZHANG Xinzhang
Pages 81-95

The Potential Illegitimacy of the PRC’s Effort to Distinguish from “Cult” or “Destructive Cult”

The PRC has a systematic, self-consistent theory and set of policies focused on xie jiao (邪教), a term that is often mistranslated as “destructive cults,” thereby causing disagreement throughout the international academic world. A more appropriate and accurate translation/interpretation agreeable to all within the PRC and beyond would contribute to bridging the confusion that often leads to misunderstanding. Our article addresses this problem by analyzing official Chinese documents and the critiques of certain international experts. Although the concept of xie jiao has its own philosophical logic, that it is often misunderstood in international communications leads to much dispute over interpretation and policy. Sino-western cultural differences explain much of this misunderstanding.