International Christian Concern | Linda Burkle | March 25, 2020
2019 was a year marked by heightened surveillance and persecution of Christians in China. According to China Aid, Christians living in President XI Jinping’s current regime have experienced more arrests, imprisonments, and church closures than at any other time since Mao’s Cultural Revolution. There were at least 5,576 attacks reported on churches last year, an increase of 171 from the previous year. David Curry, President and CEO of Open Doors USA, stated “The Chinese government is nearly single-handedly responsible for the steep increase in churches and Christian buildings attacked in 2019. The newest policies are penalizing minority Christians in unprecedented ways. If they continue down this path, they will be the single largest violator of human rights worldwide.”
Open Doors Watch List designated China as the 23rd worst country for religious persecution, up from its previous ranking of 27th. However, this ranking cannot completely reflect the government surveillance, social oversight, and oppressive limitations that are constantly increasing on all religions. The report cites examples of persecution such as the banning of online Bible sales, teachers and medical staff being pressured to sign documents saying they have no religious faith, the elderly told that their pensions will be cut off if they didn’t renounce Christianity, pastors being arrested without charges and sentenced to prison, children under the age of 18 being forbidden from attending church, and landlords being pressured to cancel rental contracts with churches.
In addition to these abuses, an international tribunal has found evidence of forced organ harvesting in China’s so-called reeducation camps. Reports indicate that organs are removed while prisoners are still alive and sold for a large profit. While China denies these allegations its actions are widely acknowledged and condemned by the international community, including human rights groups, politicians, and religious leaders. On February 27, 2020, a letter signed by many of these leaders was sent to President Trump urging him to demand human rights violations end as a condition of the Phase Two China Trade Agreement negotiations.