Wang Zuoan promoted as deputy director of powerful United Front Work Department as it takes control of all things religious
As China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) is officially absorbed into the ruling Communist Party’s United Front Work Department (UFWD), its long-standing director Wang Zuoan has been formally transferred to the UFWD and promoted to deputy director.
But as the new religion division of the UFWD takes shape, Wang will his retain his SARA title to prevent confusion in dealings with other nations on religious matters, China watchers have noted.
Still, others suggested that Wang’s move — the equivalent status of a vice-ministerial post — at least suggested continuity in a now consolidated bureaucracy overseeing religion. Under the previous structure, the UFWD set religion policy that SARA — a government rather than party body — then enforced. Bringing the two pieces together under the more senior party body underscores Beijing’s renewed efforts to control religions, especially so-called western religions Christianity and Islam.[Source]