9 Ways China Is Curbing the Rise of Christians and Catholics

Chinese children attend a Holy Communion during Christmas Mass at a Catholic church in Beijing on Dec. 24, 2009.(Illustration - Getty Images)

In some parts of the world, it is not uncommon to hear of people identifying themselves as believers of a Christian faith. According to an updated poll by Gallup’s Daily tracking in 2017, about three-quarters of Americans are either Protestants or Catholics. While this figure may not seem alarming to anyone in the United States, it could become a problem for China with the increasing number of people turning to Christian faith.

“By 2030, China’s total Christian population, including Catholics, would exceed 247 million, placing it above Mexico, Brazil, and the United States as the largest Christian congregation in the world,” Fenggang Yang, professor of sociology at Purdue University, told The Telegraph in 2014.

©Getty Images | GREG BAKER

However, on the contrary, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been known to be atheist and has been cracking down on several religious groups and beliefs, including Falun Gong practitioners, Uyghur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, and Christians for decades. Thus, it is not surprising that with the rising number of people joining the Christian population, the CCP had devised several ways to curb and target them.

Here are nine such ways:

1. Surveillance

Zhejiang Province has been known as the “Jerusalem of China” due to its high concentration of Christian population and churches. To monitor the growing population, the government issued orders in 2017 to have surveillance cameras installed in churches, mentioning fighting terrorism as their reason. Some pastors and followers disagreed with the move and tried to resist, whilst others couldn’t understand the need for the cameras.


“We Christians do good deeds and we don’t do anything to endanger the public,” said a churchgoer to South China Morning Post. “I don’t understand why the government wants to monitor us.”

2. Online Suppression

In 2018, new regulations were introduced to curb the rise of Christianity in China, and one of them included restricting online religious content. According to Hong Kong Free Press, the regulation allows “certain kinds of religious content” to be posted on the internet by officially licensed organizations, thus prohibiting individuals from uploading or sharing any religious content.

So what kinds of religious content are not allowed? Photos, videos or text that indicate praying, chanting, or burning incense are not allowed. Jeremy Daum, founder of China Law Translate and an expert on Chinese law, told the Press that due to the way the regulations were written, it could mean that “pictures from a wedding ceremony” could also become illegal.

3. Limiting Donations

With the growing popularity of crowdfunding platforms such as GoFundMe, it is not unusual for people to donate money to help those in need, regardless of where they are located.

However, in 2017, a new provision in China stated that accepting donations from foreign groups or individuals was banned. If a church did accept any such donations they would be fined. As per the new rule, there is a need to report donations of more than 100,000 yuan (approximately $15,000) to authorities, according to Reuters.

4. Tearing Down Crosses

Since 2014, multiple media outlets have reported on the removal of crosses from churches in Zhejiang. The New York Times reported that under a 36-page directive, the crosses must not be installed above the buildings but instead on the façades, and the color of the cross should blend in with the building. Moreover, the cross should not exceed “one-tenth of the height of the building’s façade.”

The Hong Kong Free Press reported in 2015 that according to the Gospel Herald, an online Christian newspaper, over 1,200 church crosses had been taken down in the past year and a half in Zhejiang.

State-sanctioned churches like the Chengdong Christian Church, a Three-Self Church in Jiangsu Province that has been registered with the government, were also not exempted from having the cross removed, China Aid reported. Maya Wang, China senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, once pointed out that “The government has always been suspicious about religions—it tightly controls religious beliefs and expressions and Chinese people can only believe in five official religious. But it’s important to point out that many of the churches with crosses removed by the government are official churches recognized by the government.”

Those who resisted the removal of the cross were arrested, like Huang Yizi, a pastor in Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province, who was detained and later jailed for a year in 2015, according to South China Morning Post.

5. Detaining and Imprisoning People

While people around the world were enjoying the warmth of the Christmas season in 2018 with their near and dear ones, many House Christians in China had to face mass arrest and round-the-clock surveillance for their faith.

On Dec. 9 and 10, 2018, some 100 churchgoers along with their pastor from the Early Rain Covenant Church, an independent Protestant church in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, were taken into police custody. The reason given was that their church was not registered with the Chinese authorities. Unregistered churches in China are referred to as “underground churches” by the communist regime.

Sometimes, those detained are met with some degree of persecution from the police, such as being beaten or deprived of food and water, as in the case of the churchgoers from Early Rain Covenant Church.

Bob Fu, the founder of United States-based Christian rights organization China Aid, told South China Morning Post that in 2018, more than 10,000 cases of Christians being detained were recorded, as compared with about 3,000 cases in 2017.

6. Killing for Organs

In recent years, there have been numerous reports that indicate the communist regime has been harvesting organs from prisoners of conscience, with the majority being from Falun Gong practitioners.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is an ancient mind-body cultivation practice based on the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance. The practice was banned by the Chinese communist regime in 1999 shortly after a state-run survey estimated that there were at least 70 million people practicing Falun Gong in China alone. Since the communist regime started cracking down on the practice in July 1999, numerous Falun Gong adherents have been arrested and detained.


In detention centers, Falun Gong adherents found themselves “frequently given blood tests and medical examinations while other prisoners (with the exception of Uyghurs, Tibetans, and certain House Christian groups who were also targeted) receive no such treatment,” according to the 2016 report “Bloody Harvest/ The Slaughter: An Update” by David Kilgour, former Canadian Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific), Ethan Gutmann, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and David Matas, human rights lawyer.

Matas said: “The ultimate conclusion of this update and indeed our previous work, is that China has engaged in the mass killing of prisoners of conscience, primarily practitioners of the spiritual-based exercises Falun Gong, but also Uyghurs, Tibetans, and select House Christians, in order to obtain organs for transplants.”

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In the report, the authors also estimated that the number of organs that were harvested per year ranged between 60,000 and 100,000, though Chinese authorities claimed that 10,000 organ transplantations took place a year.

7. Restricting Children From Religious Activities

In 2016, the communist regime issued education rules for the Uighur minority, which stated that parents cannot “organize, lure or force minors into attending religious activities,” Foreign Policy reported. The rule also stated that if any parent is caught encouraging religion “any group or person has the right to stop these kinds of behaviors and report them to the public security authorities.”

Just like the Uighur minority, the Christian population was also met with similar rules, where children were restricted or banned from attending religious activities.

©Getty Images | LIU JIN

The authorities in Wenzhou City banned Sunday School in 2017, Reuters reported. Despite the ban, the churches were not deterred. Several Christians said that some churches had moved Sunday School to Saturdays or started teaching children in private homes. In other provinces such as Jiangsu and Henan, children were barred from attending Christian summer camps, The World Watch Monitor, a Christian news outlet, wrote.

The outlet added that churches from the state-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement in Fuzhou City, Fujian Province, was told: “it is forbidden to force or tempt juveniles to believe in any religion and it is also forbidden to conduct religious activities in non-registered religious venues without approval.”

8. Renouncing Faith

Another method that the communist regime used to curb the increasing Christian population was to have them renounce their faith. The VOA reported in August 2018 that some Chinese Christians had posted a renouncement form from the authorities on the internet.

The form contained the following statement: “I had limited understanding of Christianity. Taking on Christianity as my belief is also blindly following the trend. Now I have a more comprehensive understanding of religion and religious beliefs. After further studying Christianity, I have a clearer understanding of my spiritual needs. I announce that I will not participate in Christian religious activities from now on and I will no longer believe in Christianity.”

A month later, RFA reported that the CCP had told high school teachers in Zhejiang Province to sign a letter pledging that they would not follow any religious faith. “[Authorities in Wenzhou’s] Ouhai district put out a short video that was mentioned when the schools were holding their meetings,” a Christian said. “It was saying that teachers mustn’t hold any religious beliefs, and particularly that they mustn’t proselytize in schools.”

Medical professionals were also faced with similar restrictions and were told they would have to report those who violate the laws, including family and friends, to the authorities.

9. Rewriting the Bible

In 2018, Bob Fu told the United States House of Representatives that the Three-Self Patriotic Movement and the Chinese Christian Council, both state-sanctioned Protestant bodies, came up with a five-year plan on “promoting the Sinicization of Christianity,” The Christian Post reported.

According to The Guardian, the plan was to find similarities to socialism and have a “correct understanding” of the text. The bodies also proposed to “re-translate the Bible or re-write biblical commentaries.” Fu explained to The Christian Post that according to the outlines, “the new Bible should not look westernized and [should look] Chinese and reflect Chinese ethics of Confucianism and socialism.”

In September 2019, Bitter Winter, a magazine on religious liberty and human rights in China, reported that believers of state-run Three-Self Church were told by the authorities to take down displays of Ten Commandments and replace them with quotes from Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

“The Party must be obeyed in every respect. You have to do whatever the Party tells you to do. If you contradict, your church will be shut down immediately,” United Front Work Department officials reportedly told a congregation in Henan Province at the end of June 2019.

From The Epoch Times






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