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Report documents rampant Christian persecution in China

The Communist regime used sinicization, educational reforms, rights abuses, and stringent laws to persecute Christians

Catholic worshippers attend a morning Mass on Easter Sunday at a Catholic church in a village near Beijing on April 4, 2021

Catholic worshippers attend a morning Mass on Easter Sunday at a Catholic church in a village near Beijing on April 4, 2021. (Photo: Jade Gao/AFP)

Published: February 16, 2023 12:07 PM GMT

Updated: February 16, 2023 01:07 PM GMT

Christians in China have continued to face various forms of persecution including sinicization, educational reforms, and widespread rights abuses coupled with stringent laws under the repressive regime of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), says a Christian rights watchdog.

The persecution of Christians in China was highlighted in the 63-page Annual Persecution Report 2022 by US-based China Aid released on Feb. 14.

“In 2022, China Aid has felt day by day the CCP’s escalated persecutions against Christian churches and Christians in mainland China, which explains why churches and Christians in China became increasingly afraid of exposing their lived persecution experiences to the outside world,” the report read.

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People including top brass CCP officials have engaged in promoting Sinicization among the Christians pressurizing them to yield to the political ideology and vision of President Xi Jinping, it stated.

Critics say sinicization is a political ideology that aims to impose strict rules on societies based on the core values of socialism and aims to build support based for the CCP leadership.

Wang Yang, a Political Bureau member of the CCP stressed the need for religious organizations to adhere to the political policies put forth by the government in a Jan. 27, 2022, speech delivered during a symposium in Beijing, the report read.

Wang stated that “religious groups should unite the majority of religious adherents around the CCP and government to forge a “positive energy” to help realize the “Chinese Dream,” the China Aid report read.

The report pointed out that Wang had met the leaders of the Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA) and Bishops’ Conference of Catholic Church in China on Aug. 23, seeking their support for the “Sinicization of Catholicism in China.”

He urged the leaders “to resolutely stay on the correct political path, adamantly support the CCP’s leadership, spontaneously resist the infiltration of overseas forces, and utilize Chinese culture, Chinese language, and Chinese communication styles to interpret and study religious canons,” the report read.

The report further revealed alarming details of the methods employed by the CCP and its officials to suppress Christianity and its practice in the nation.

The CCP officials have reportedly engaged in the demolition of churches across the country in 2022.

In August 2022, the Catholic Diocese of Taiyuan’s Gothic-styled Beihan Church complex was torn down first, and the remaining 40-meter-high bell tower was blasted in a coordinated demolition, the report read.

In June 2022, after Bishop Dong Baolu refused to join the state-run patriotic church system, his church in Hebei province’s Shijiazhuang city, was demolished by CCP officials.

The report pointed out that throughout 2022 churches and worship centers of Christians, including Catholics, have been demolished in Dalian, Jiangxi, Tongguan, Shaanxi, and other provinces.

China Aid also accused the officials of “fabricating criminal charges to detain, arrest, and sentence leaders and lay believers” in their effort to suppress Christianity.

“Provincial and local governments arbitrarily detained Chinese Christian leaders and believers from all over China. Prison authorities denied many of these prisoner’s attorney visits or contact with family,” the report read.

Reportedly, the prisoners were denied medical treatment and received “harsh sentences disproportionate to their alleged crime.” Other Christian prisoners were detained for long periods before their trials, or their cases were postponed several times.

Another alarming accusation laid out in the report is the forced disappearance of clergy and laity.

The report listed the unexplained disappearances of Bishop Joseph Zhang Weizhu of the Xinxiang Diocese, Bishop Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou Diocese, Bishop Dong Baolu from the underground Catholic church in Shijiazhuang city, and 10 priests from Baoding Diocese.

The CCP officials have also used raids, fines, harassment, and denial of rights to torture Christians.

Officials have engaged in interrupting worship services, baptisms, pilgrimages, and even online church services to intimidate Christians.

The repressive Chinese bureaucrats have also engaged in the usage of hefty fines on church leaders and those renting out the venue for church worship to discourage people from congregating together for prayer.

In January 2022, Huang Yuanda, a Christian from Xunsiding Church in Xiamen, was fined 100,000 yuan (around US$14,500) by the Xiamen Siming district Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau for providing a rented house for the church school to use.

The report also revealed the laws and regulations placed by the CCP to control and monitor information in cyberspace.

Through the "Administrative Measures for Internet Religious Information Services" enacted in March 2022, the CCP stipulated the appointment of trained and licensed Internet Religious Information Auditors who are students of religious schools or religious clergy officially registered with the government.

The training includes “laws and regulations related to religious affairs, the Civil Code, the National Security Law, the Cybersecurity Law but also covers Xi Jinping's thought on the rule of law, the Constitution, and Socialist core values.”

The CCP has engaged in controlling the financial affairs of religious organizations and screening the religious inclinations of college students, the report read.

The report also revealed that Christian students applying for studying abroad at other Christian-run institutions were denied passports by the officials.

“If told by applicants that they apply for passports to go overseas to study in Christian institutions, government agents would deny their applications on the grounds of COVID prevention,” the report read.

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