World Watch List Rank 17
World Watch List Score 74/100
Leader President Xi Jinping
Population 1,424,548,000 | 96,700,000 Christians
Main Religion Atheism
WWL Rank in 2020 23
Persecution Level Very High Persecution

The Communist Party relies strongly on Chinese cultural identity to stay in power and limits whatever it perceives as a threat to its control on society. 

New restrictions on the internet, social media and non-governmental organizations, and regulations on religion are strictly applied and seriously limit freedom. Churches are being monitored and closed downThe stricter implementation of already existing laws also impinge on Christian activity. 

When converts from Islam or Buddhism is discovered by their community and family, they are likely to face threats and physical harm in an effort to win them back. Spouses may be forced to divorce. Neighbours may even report the practice of Christian activities to the authorities, who could take action to stop them.  

What changed this year?

The intense pressure being increasingly placed on Christians by the government means China has jumped six places from last year’s list. In just three years, the country has risen 26 places, reflecting a rapidly deteriorating situation for Christians in the country.  

It is getting increasingly difficult to avoid having to fall in line with official ideology, even for state-affiliated churches. Many churches suffering from the state’s tight control reorganized themselves and split into smaller groups – a tactic that didn’t always save them from intrusion. There are reports that in some regions authorities used the COVID-19 pandemic to keep churches closed, even after it was no longer necessary for health reasons.  

There has also been an increase in raids and harassment on individual Christians and families. Thousands of churches have been damaged or destroyed, some confiscated, in a campaign that has spread to almost every region of the country. Crosses have also been removed from churches.

Meanwhile, laws on regulating religion, which were introduced in February 2018 and enhanced in February 2020, continue to be more strictly implemented and rolled out in an increasing number of provinces. 

There are reports that citizens are being financially rewarded for disclosing information on Christians and other minorities to the authorities. This reflects the determination of the Communist Party to exert its control over all areas of life.  

It must be remembered that China is vast, and the situation for Christians can be very different in various parts of the country. However, the situation for Christians deteriorated all over the country.  


Open Doors supports persecuted believers in China through discipleship and persecution survival training, and by providing contextualized Christian literature to believers from Muslim and Buddhist backgrounds. 


  • Ask the Lord to give church leaders wisdom, discernment and guidance as they lead congregations in light of increased restrictions and surveillance. 
  • Lift up in prayer all who have left their former religion to follow Jesus. Pray that they will be protected from harm, strengthened in their faith and empowered in their witness.
  • Ask the Lord to open the eyes of those in authority to the unequalled power and beauty of the gospel.  
Pray for China


A New Age of Digital Persecution

19th Feb 2021

Found in Prayer News

Imagine you attend church on Zoom one Sunday and they put you in handcuffs the next morning. This is what happened to believers in a…

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Life for Christians in China

25th Nov 2020

Found in Podcast

For many Christians, when they think of the persecuted church, they think of China. Perhaps because of the amazing growth the church China experienced under…

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China—A Time of Great Uncertainty

24th Jan 2020

Found in Prayer News

January 25th is Chinese New Year and the beginning of the Year of the Rat, the first in the 12-year cycle of animals that distinguish…

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Prayers for Christians in China at the start of the Chinese New Year

06th Feb 2019

Found in Prayer News

The year 2018 saw an unprecedented increase of religious persecution in China. The huge numbers of churches raided, pastors arrested and increased surveillance on the…

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