China has strengthened its efforts to crack down on cults by arresting more than 1,500 cult members and handing out at least 86 prison terms nationwide in the past two years. The aim is to undermine cult organizations and prevent more violence in various regions.
The public security bureau in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region said it had detained more than 800 members of the Quannengshen ("Almighty God") cult and 580 members of the Mentuhui ("Disciples Sect") cult since 2012, according to Xinhua News Agency.
Police in Liaoning province have arrested 113 key members of Quannengshen since last year.
The crackdown continues in the provinces of Anhui, Hunan, Jiangsu, Guangdong, Henan and Shaanxi, as well as in the Xinjiang Uygur and Inner Mongolia autonomous regions.
According to the Ministry of Public Security, its central level is still collecting clues about cults from public reports and its own intelligence.
The public began to put attention on cults' damage after a woman was beaten to death on May 28, allegedly by six members of Quannengshen, at a McDonald's restaurant in Zhaoyuan, Shandong province.
"Cults are often related to crimes of violence, money fraud and sex abuse," said Dai Peng, director of the criminal investigation department at People's Public Security University of China in Beijing. "The crackdown in different regions is an active response to public concern about their security and doesn't reflect the increase of cult activities."