Sunday, April 26, 2015
China Steps Up Christian Targeting
Chinese Christians last year suffered the harshest persecution in more than a decade in the communist government’s “response to the growth of Christianity in China,” according to a report from the Christian human rights group China Aid.
The report documented 572 cases of persecution in 2014, involving 17,884 individuals, a 300 percent increase from 2013. Of those persecution victims, at least 1,592 were church leaders, China Aid found.
“In 2014, Christians and practitioners of other faiths in China experienced the harshest persecution seen in over a decade, including draconian measures taken by Xi Jinping’s administration to eliminate all religious, political, and social dissent,” the report disclosed.
Charges brought against Christians ranged from “gathering a crowd to disrupt public order” to “fraud.”
Some were accused of “cult” activities, and “anti-cult” trials were often conducted in secret.
“Noting an inherent hostility toward religion and the fact that the [Communist Party of China] endorses atheism as the official doctrine of the Chinese state, its attempt to define any particular religion as a cult is biased, at the very least,” China Aid maintained.
While China sanctions two “patriotic” Christian organizations, one Protestant and one Catholic, millions of Chinese worship in unregistered house churches or belong to unapproved Catholic congregations loyal to the Pope rather than Beijing-appointed leadership.
The Pew Research Center estimated in 2012 that these independent believers number around 48 million, CNS News disclosed in a report on China Aid’s allegations.
China Aid said it received reports from Christian leaders in one Chinese province, where Protestant missionaries worked a century ago, asserting that more than 30 churches were demolished last year, 422 crosses were removed, more than 300 believers detained, and 10 church leaders arrested, adding that the actual figures are believed to be much higher.
Chinese authorities have also increased persecution of Tibetan Buddhists and Uighur Muslims, according to a 2014 report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
China has been designated by the U.S. State Department as one of nine “countries of particular concern” for violations of religious freedom, along with North Korea, Burma, Iran, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.