President Xi Jinping has warned that religions in China must be independent from foreign influence as Beijing asks domestic religious groups to adapt to Chinese society and pledge loyalty to the state.

China is ruled by the atheist Communist Party and Beijing tries to control a variety of religions and their spread.

Xi made the remarks Wednesday at a high-profile meeting seeking to unite non-Communist Party groups and individuals. His words have been widely reported in state media.

Beijing believes that foreign, hostile forces can use religions to infiltrate Chinese society and eventually subvert the party rule. However, Beijing never clarifies what constitute the foreign forces.