China is ranked as one of the worst countries in the world when it comes to the persecution of Christians, according to Open Doors USA’s World Watch List.
May 5, 2021,08:06am EDT
Are Christians In China Next In Line For ‘Re-Education’?
In April 2021, Radio Free Asia reported that “authorities in China are detaining Christians in secretive, mobile ‘transformation’ facilities to make them renounce their faith.” According to that report, “A member of a Christian ‘house church’ in the southwestern province of Sichuan… said he was held in a facility run by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s United Front Work Department, working in tandem with the state security police, for 10 months after a raid on his church in 2018.
The man explained that “he was held in a windowless room for nearly 10 months, during which time he was beaten, verbally abused and ‘mentally tortured’ by staff, eventually resorting to self-harm by throwing himself against a wall.” He added that “They use really underhand methods. They threaten, insult and intimidate you.” These methods appear to be similar to the treatment described by Uyghurs held in concentration camps in Xinjiang, treatment that Beijing continues to strongly dispute.
While the allegations are yet to be investigated, they add to the ever-growing evidence of the deteriorating treatment of religious groups in China. Recent reports suggested that Uyghurs have been subjected to killings, torture and abuse, rape and sexual violence, forced labor, forced abortions, forced sterilizations and much more. Other reports suggests that Falun Gong practitioners are subjected to forced organ harvesting. Christians are subject to various methods of discrimination and persecution in China.
On January 13, 2021, Open Doors, an international NGO advocating on behalf of persecuted Christians, released their annual World Watch List which assesses 50 countries where Christians face the most severe types of persecution. According to their assessment, China has entered the top 20 for the first time in a decade, due to ongoing and increasing surveillance and censorship of Christians and other religious minorities. As they reported, “the policy of ‘Sinicizing’ the church has been implemented nationwide, as the [CCP] limits whatever it perceives as a threat to its rule and ideology. Thousands of churches have been damaged or closed. In some parts of China, children under the age of 18 aren’t allowed to attend church—part of the country’s efforts to stunt future growth.” While China is ranked 17th, as a place where Christians are subjected to high levels of persecution, the situation of all religious groups in China is dire and has been deteriorating in recent years.
In May 2021, news outlets reported that Chinese authorities have been “removing Bible Apps and Christian WeChat public accounts as new highly restrictive administrative measures on religious staff went into effect Saturday.” Reportedly, “Bibles in hard copy are no longer available for sale online either.”
Furthermore, as the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) identified in its 2021 report: “Despite the Vatican-China agreement on Bishop appointments, Chinese authorities continued to harass, detain, and torture underground Catholic bishops—such as Cui Tai and Huang Jintong—who refuse to join the state-backed Catholic association. They also harassed, detained, arrested, and imprisoned members of Protestant house churches who refuse to join the state-sanctioned ‘Three-Self Patriotic Movement.’” They further added that “The government also continued to demolish both Catholic and Protestant church buildings and crosses under its ‘sinicization of religion’ campaign.”
Considering the current trends of persecution of religious groups in China, it is expected that China will soon be toping the Open Doors charts and competing with North Korea as the worst place to live as a Christian. The same applies to other religious groups. Further restrictions of the right to freedom of religion or belief, in all shapes and forms, are expected.
Dr. Ewelina U. Ochab is a human rights advocate, author and co-founder of the Coalition for Genocide Response. Ochab works on the topic of genocide, with specific focus on the persecution of ethnic and religious minorities around the world, with main projects including the Daesh genocide in Syria and Iraq, Boko Haram atrocities in West Africa, the situation of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and of the Uyghurs in China. Ochab has written over 30 reports for the UN (including Universal Periodic Review reports) and has made oral and written submissions at the Human Rights Council, the UN Forum on Minority Issues, PACE and other international and regional fora. Ochab authored the initiative and proposal to establish the UN International Day Commemorating Victims and Survivors of Religious Persecution. The initiative has led to the establishment of the UN International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief on August 22. Follow @EwelinaUO Read Less
More House Christians Detained in Southwest China
BY FRANK YUE May 2, 2021 Updated: May 4, 2021
In Guiyang, the capital of southwestern China’s Guizhou province, there have been new reports of crackdowns on underground churches by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) after pastor Zhang Chunlei was placed under criminal detention in March.
In mid-March, Yang Kaichun and Hou Zeyan—house church members and residents of Anshun city, which is 90 kilometers from Guiyang—were each given 15-days illegal administrative detention, while Huang Chen and Cai Sumei had their homes searched by the authorities, who confiscated some of their possessions.
Other house church members—Chen Jianguo, Li Lin, and Li Jinzhi from Guiyang—were subjected to three-days detention as well as repeated summons and harassment by local police.
Yang Aiqing, wife to imprisoned pastor Zhang Chunlei, was also illegally subpoenaed and held in handcuffs and shackles for 24 hours before being released.
Handcuffs and shackles can only be applied to dangerous criminals, Chinese rights lawyer Sui Muqing recently told the Chinese-language Epoch Times.
In fact, the CCP regime has intensified efforts in persecuting underground Christians since Chinese leader Xi Jinping became leader in 2012. The CCP took down more than 900 crosses from state-run churches in the first half of 2020 in Anhui province alone, according to Bitter Winter, a magazine on religious liberty and human rights in China.
On Jan. 19, Niu Guobao, a Christian and resident of Lushan county in central China’s Henan province, was fined 160,000 yuan (about $24,712) by the local CCP’s religion authority for holding a Christmas party on Dec. 19, 2020, according to a Chinese-language rights site known as Wei Quan Wang.
On Feb. 20, 2019, Li Juncai, Christian house church pastor and resident of Yuanyang county, Henan province, was detained on an alleged charge of “obstruction of performance of official duties” after he refused to follow the orders of local authorities to remove the cross at top of his church and replace his religious banners with CCP-approved ones.
Days later, the cross was forcibly demolished and the banners removed. Instead, a five-star red flag was set up within the church to meet the requirements of the CCP, which has been enforcing its order nationwide over the last few years.
After 22 months of detention, the pastor was sentenced to five and half years in prison on charges like so-called embezzlement and obstruction of performance of officials duties.
China shuts down Bible App, Christian WeChat as new crackdown policies go into effect
China shuts down Bible App, Christian WeChat as new crackdown policies go into effect
By Anugrah Kumar, Christian Post Contributor
China’s communist authorities are continuing their crackdown on Christianity by removing Bible Apps and Christian WeChat public accounts as new highly restrictive administrative measures on religious staff went into effect Saturday.
Father Francis Liu from the Chinese Christian Fellowship of Righteousness said in a tweet that some Christian WeChat accounts, including “Gospel League” and “Life Quarterly,” were no longer available online, the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern reported.
When someone tries to access those accounts, a message reads, “(We) received report that (this account) violates the ‘Internet User Public Account Information Services Management Provisions’ and its account has been blocked and suspended.”
Bible Apps have also been removed from the App Store in China, and Bibles in hard copy are no longer available for sale online either, ICC added. Bible Apps can only be downloaded in China with the use of a VPN.
Another sign of the ongoing crackdown is that bookstores owned by the state-sanctioned Three-self churches have increasingly been selling books that promote President Xi Jinping’s thoughts and communist ideology.
“Even their WeChat accounts are turning into propaganda channels for CCP,” ICC said.
In 2018, the Chinese government banned the sale of Bibles at online bookstores across the country to comply with a “white paper” that dictated compliance with the “core values of socialism.”
Australia’s ABC News reported at the time that copies of the Gospels had been removed from online retailers following the release of a regime document titled “China’s Policies and Practices on Protecting Freedom of Religious Belief.”
The white paper declared that Chinese faith communities “should adhere to the direction of localizing the religion, practice the core values of socialism, develop and expand the fine Chinese tradition and actively explore the religious thought which accords with China’s national circumstances.”