As the faithful grow in number, Beijing steps up repression that is wide and deep.
June 4, 1989, was a seminal day for China’s faithful, as the Chinese government massacred thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. The same day, Communist Party leaders watched as pro-democracy candidates in Poland supplanted Communist rule—with Pope John Paul II’s indispensable support. Together the events jolted Beijing into tightening its control over religion.
Post-Tiananmen, Christian groups were made to register with state “patriotic” associations or risk punishment as “evil cults.” Anxious to maintain access to Western markets, Beijing selectively enforced these rules in large cities. The rural Christian underground bore the brunt of church closings and mass internment of their members in labor camps.