It is difficult for Christians outside of China to get an accurate, updated, comprehensive, simple-but-not-oversimplified summary of the rapidly escalating persecution confronting Chinese Christians. Our VOMK team assembled this timely brief for you to share with your friends, family, and church.
CHINA – CURRENT SITUATION:
Under Xi Jinping’s dictatorship, China is carrying out various large-scale movements in an attempt to turn back the clock. The goal is to return China to the Mao Zedong era, a totalitarian era in which nothing—human rights, religion, or even thought—was free from the iron grip of the Communist party.
Today, the total number of Christians in China is large, exceeding even the total population of South Korea. Although Xi Jinping claims to be committed to a “Sinicization of Christianity”, he really just wants a more restrictive version of the “Three-Self Church Movement” that is aimed after either (1) the complete elimination of Christianity or (2) the achieving of “religious harmony” (which means designating Communism the shared and only valid object of ultimate concern for all Chinese people, regardless of religion).
Ever since the “Great Persecution” experienced by Chinese Christians in the late 1980s, the government has been building understanding and developing methods of dealing with religion. Today, they have nearly perfected this art: People living in China no longer have any privacy. The “Real Name System”, “Big Data”, and “Video Surveillance” are all tools the government uses against the rule of law, against freedom, and even against people’s personal beliefs. From large cities in China to remote towns and villages, old retired people in the community have become the authorities’ most useful tool: They monitor citizens for the government and they do this entirely free of charge. These voluntary spies wear red armbands and stroll through the community, watching every pedestrian—and they do this all day.
Even more worrying, however, is that many primary schools in China are encouraging young students to spend their summer as “little reporters.” These students are instructed to report unpatriotic people—including their parents, teachers, and friends. They are expected to tease out the secrets of others and become informers! The authorities are doing everything they can to monitor citizens.
CHINA – PERSECUTION:
Religious persecution in China is incessant, but type and level of persecution against Christianity varies according to region. In some areas, some churches even participate in social activities and get along with their local governments. Therefore, many churches believe that as long as they refrain from saying anything inappropriate, they will not be persecuted. This is why many churches continue to rent spaces in office buildings or buy land for their churches. This thinking, however, is mistaken. The persecution order issued by the central government was clear in its objective and it does not distinguish between religions (Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity) or registration status (officially recognized church, underground church).
If you wanted to describe the persecution faced by Christians today, the most appropriate word would be the “Great Cleansing”, which is the name of Xi Jinping’s movement. Christians who have worked hard to raise funds and acquire buildings are forced to look on as their churches are demolished in an instant. Even today, pastors, clergy, and ordinary Christians are arrested throughout China. They’re imprison, tortured, beaten, and drugged into false confessions. If we were to list out all the tortures these Christians have faced in the last year alone, it would fill more than a single, bloody book.
Mao Zedong’s wife, Jiang Qing, once said, “In China, religion has entered the History Museum.” This isn’t enough for Xi Jinping’s government, however. In Xi Jinping’s China, there should be no trace of Christianity—even in the History Museum.