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Even As International Pressure Mounts, China Ramps Up Religious Persecution

A church member in black seen reading a bible during a church service.
Stanley Leung/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
 

The government of China has ramped up its policy of “Sinicisation,” or the crackdown on religious liberty among its populace within the past two years. The communist regime has been accused of mass arrests, the tearing down of religious institutions, beatings, and even bribing communities into reporting their practicing members.

 

Christian rights watchdog group Open Doors has ranked the persecution level in China as “very high.”

Their website reports that the authorities are “reportedly resorting to offering monetary rewards to anyone who spies on a neighbor or even family member and reports a group of believers to authorities.” Tip boxes have appeared in the Henan province that allow neighbors to report their Christian neighbors. The human rights magazine “Bitter Winter,” adds that reported individuals are immediately arrested, interrogated by the police, often beaten, and many have had their property seized. These seizures are not limited to “underground” churches, but even officially recognized churches in Henan province have had their crosses taken by the authorities.

It is not just Christians suffering under the communist regime. As the Australia Broadcast Channel reports, Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province are under constant threat of arrest, mass surveillance, and being sent to internment camps. It is estimated that at least 1 million Uyghur Muslims have been detained for “re-education.”

The Augusta Review notes that Chinese Jews are also facing intense pressure from the government. The already tiny community, known as Kaifeng Jews, have shrunk to an estimated 2,500 under the suffering. AsianNews adds that Judaism is not recognized as an official religion and their methods of worship are considered "illegal,” making any practice subject to police raids and arrests.

These crackdowns have been internationally condemned by the media, human rights activists, and by other governments. In September 2018, the United States, along with Canada, Djibouti, Kosovo, and United Arab Emirates, signed the “Potomac Declaration” which condemned the attacks on religious liberty by China, Myanmar, and Iran.

The European Union is also taking steps to help relieve the situation. According to New Europe, the EU is considering allowing 2,000 Christians to receive asylum for “severe persecution.”

 

The Trump administration has openly condemned the persecution. In a March speech in Taiwan, International Religious Freedom Ambassador Sam Brownback said, “What does the Chinese government have to fear from people reading the Bible or Uighurs naming their children Mohammad? The Chinese are a strong and vibrant people.”

“They do not need to fear people who have strong religious beliefs or convictions. Instead, the government should promote the protection of the rights of its people to practice their beliefs and worship as they see fit,” he continued. “I am committed to fighting for the rights of all to believe or not to believe as they see fit, and for all to be able to exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms without threat. Not just the freedom of religion or belief, but also the freedoms of expression, of association and of peaceful assembly.”

China does not seem to be backing down. The South China Morning Post wrote that Premier Li Keqiang said to the Chinese legislature in early March, “We must fully implement the [Communist] Party’s fundamental policy on religious affairs and uphold the Sinicisation of religion in China.”

ChinaAid founder Bob Fu told The Guardian that in the midst of the crackdown, Christianity continues to grow in the communist country. He explained, “I have hope for the future, these campaigns were done in Roman times, under Stalin and under Mao, and none succeeded.”

 

Fu added, “It will only have the opposite effect, and if Communist party cadres studied history they would see this. Crackdowns will cause the church to grow faster, and help [the] church be more united.”

The mainstream media appears to be finally waking up to the human rights violations in China. For a time, the media stayed silent on the suffering of the religious Chinese. Now, with the communists targeting every person who does not toe the party line, the media has no choice but to bring attention to this crucial issue.

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