Country Conditions: Treatment Of Christians In China
Author: Alena Shautsova
China, formally referred to as the People's Republic of China operates an authoritarian system of government. The Chinese Communist Party(CCP) wields the ultimate authority in the State. Almost all top government and security functioning positions are held and controlled by members of the Chinese Communist Party. The ultimate authority in China belongs to members of a twenty-five-man Political Bureau and a seven-man Standing Committee (both of which are arms of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee). Of these powers held by the Chinese Communist Party, the three most important positions of General Secretary, State President, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission are held by President Xi Jinping.
With China being the most populated nation in the world, they as well account for the highest number of irreligious persons. Officially, the government of the People's Republic of China and the Chinese Communist Party identifies as atheists.
The Chinese government's ideology is mostly bordered on socialism. Hence the visionary amalgamation of all religions with a focus on the socialist ideology.
But should this be a cause for the ill-treatment of people with differing beliefs? How have Christians fared so far in a state that proclaims atheism? Is there any hope of survival for the Christian belief system? This article aims to give answers to questions such as these.
The State Of Christianity In China
In 2018, China's Christian population was predicted to be around 44 million. Since the 7th century, China has had Christianity or a semblance of it. The practice of the Christian religion has been rigorously regulated from that time until now. Despite this, Christianity is the fastest-growing religion in China, according to reports. The entrance of Jesuit missionaries in the late 16th century and the arrival of Robert Morrison, a missionary with the Protestant Movement in the early 19th century are credited with establishing modern-day Christianity in China.
Although the constitution and laws of the People's Republic of China allow for freedom of religion, it has gone to great lengths to ensure the restriction of religious activities. Religious activities can only be conducted by registered religious bodies. For example, Jehovah's Witnesses are not protected by the Chinese constitution therefore they are not allowed in China. Unregistered Catholics and Protestants referred respectively to as underground churches and house churches are not protected by the constitution of China. The Pope as well wields no power in the realm of China.
The Chinese Communist Party must approve all religious organizations, including Christian organizations, that operate in China. In 2021, the Chinese Communist Party enacted a statue that required all religious groups to be both loyal and to obey the Communist Party. The statue was called "Measures for the Administration of Religious Personnel." The Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, the China Christian Council, and the Three-Self Patriotic Movement are three key arms that oversee Christianity in China.
Persecution Of Christians In China
Today Christians in China suffer from great opposition from the Chinese government. One of the worst since the Cultural Revolution of Mao Zedong's government, when he vowed to completely expel religion.
Late in 2018, Wang Yi the pastor of Early Rain Covenant Church- a well-known underground church in China- was arrested alongside his wife and over a hundred of his church members. The church was closed down, while Wang Yi and his wife were charged with inciting subversion. He was sentenced to nine years imprisonment.
It is a common thing in parts of China for authorities to take out items such as Crosses, crucifix pictures of Jesus and Mary, and replace them with that of the leader of the Chinese Communist Party.
The Chinese Communist Party views independent Christian organizations as threats to its administration since they are more liberal and accepting of universal values. If allowed to exist without regulation, the Chinese Communist Party fears the Christian system of belief could break its seemingly organized order. Hence, a forceful attack on Christian organizations deemed to not be conforming to the standards of the Communist Party.
A Chinese Christian who chose to write under the name of Lee Yuese gave an account of how he was held for 10 months in a windowless room. He was detained by the United Front Work Department after his house church was raided. While in detention, the officials intimidated, beat, and threatened detainees to renounce their faith. According to Yuese, "after you've been in detention for a week, death seems better than remaining there."
Aside from demolishing church buildings, the Chinese Communist Party is also in the practice of imprisoning Christians in brainwashing camps. President Xi Jinping has taken great steps to put an end to Christianity. While the Christian religion is still progressive, there is a need for international aid to alleviate the plights of people persecuted based on religion. Lest the situation becomes uncontrollable.