|World Watch List Rank||23|
|World Watch List Score||70/100|
|Leader||President Xi Jinping|
|Population||1.4 billion I 97.2 million|
|WWL Rank in 2019||27|
|Persecution Level||Very High Persecution|
Freedom in China is changing. The Communist Party is becoming more controlling and the government has increased citizen surveillance. In an increasing number of cases, Bibles have been confiscated, churches raided, and pastors fined and arrested. Some missionaries have even been kicked out of the country. Churches are perceived as a threat if they become too large, too political or invite foreign guests.
Conversion to Christianity from Islam or Buddhism is also seen as a betrayal to one’s family. In attempting to win them back, communities will threaten Christians with physical harm and report converts to the local authorities. The growing influence of materialism and consumerism has also been identified as a threat to the church in China.
Despite this, the Christian community has rapidly grown over the past 30 years and persecution has enabled much of this growth.
"There was a woman in my church who was kidnapped by her family when they found out she converted. They took her back to her home village and broke her legs so she could not escape and then tried to force her to be a Muslim again."
These are the words of Na*, a Christian leader from the Hui people group in China. Originally from a Muslim family, as most Hui are, she came to Christ 14 years ago. In Na's region, anyone who leaves Islam is seen as a traitor and they are told that they have brought great shame and dishonour to their family. As a result, some Christian converts have been kidnapped or threatened with honour killings. In spite of the enormous risk, many Hui people are becoming Christians. "It is amazing how the gospel message touches the hearts of the Hui people," says Na. "Many are giving up everything to follow Christ."
The story for Christians in China varies hugely depending on the region. There has been a significant change for the better for Han Chinese, but other Chinese Christians from minority ethnic groups such as the Uyghur and Hui groups, often Muslim Background Believers, face a great amount of persecution.
Pastor Askar* is a Uyghur from the Xinjiang province in the northwestern part of China, bordering countries like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia. In recent years, Islamic extremism has taken root in this region and last year the situation deteriorated rapidly. There have been violent attacks, including the slaying of innocent people by sword at subway stations. The rest of the nation has become fearful of the Uyghur because of these attacks and has ostracised them. The local government is fearful of any religious gatherings. For this reason, Pastor Askar and his church are forced to meet in secret. If he and his congregants are caught meeting together, they could face several years in prison so they exercise extreme caution. "In the summer," he says, "we wait until midnight so nobody will see us, and then we go to the lake to baptise a new believer. But in the winter, it is too cold to do that, so I baptise new believers with a water bottle inside."The same applies to the even smaller group of Christian converts from a Tibetan Buddhist background. They can only meet in very small groups, as they face great persecution from other Tibetans if their faith is discovered.For Han Chinese churches, the police in most cases refrain from violence, but invite church leaders to 'have tea'. This is a euphemism for clarifying rules and limits of religious acts and meetings and is a very effective means in order to establish a 'harmonious society'. What do they ask? Pastor Wei says, "Things like 'Who are the leaders in your church?' and 'Are any foreigners involved in your church?' I am cautioned not to let my church grow too much. The Head of Police and I have actually become friends, and yesterday, I shared my testimony with him about how I started to believe in the Lord Jesus."
* Name changed for security reasons
Open Doors is challenging the Han Chinese church to play their part in engaging the world with the persecuted church and take up her role in the worldwide body of Christ, too. Within China, the Han Chinese church is encouraged to support the most persecuted Christian groups in China, specifically Muslim and Tibetan-background believers. Open Doors supports the church in China through:
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…Read More
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…Read More