World Watch List Rank 23
World Watch List Score 70/100
Leader President Xi Jinping
Population 1.4 billion I 97.2 million
Main Religion Atheism
Government Communist State
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:

  • Raising awareness of persecution among Chinese Christians
  • Providing basic biblical and discipleship training to the most persecuted Christian groups, Muslim and Tibetan-background believers
  • Distributing contextualised Christian literature to Muslim and Tibetan-background believers.


  • Among the 85 million Christians in China, there are only a few thousand Muslim background believers (MBBs).  The few thousand MBBs living in western China are of the most persecuted groups in China. Please pray for strength and protection for them.
  • The government imposes tight control in western China region in order to defend from terrorist attacks and reiterate its position of anti-Islamic extremism. Participation in religious activities can be misconstrued as a result.
  • These MBB’s also face persecution from their own family, friends, and neighbours.  Conversion to Christianity is seen as a disgrace to a Muslim family and treason to the community. If Christians are discovered, they run the risk of being disowned by their families and thrown out of their homes.
  • Pray for Open Doors in China as we work to strengthen the faith of these most persecuted MBB’s by providing persecution related training and Christian materials.  We also connect isolated MBBs to Christian groups in China so they might gain encouragement and spiritual support.


China—A Time of Great Uncertainty

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

06th Feb 2019

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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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