CHINA – No safe place to be a Christian in China, report says

Baptist Standard | July 28, 2020

China persecutes Christians to gain leverage in future diplomatic relations with the United States, a Christian seeking U.S. asylum claimed in a video released July 22 alongside a new report by International Christian Concern.

Liao Qiang, a member of Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, further claimed in the ICC video that the Chinese Communist Party (CPC), “makes you think that they are willing to compromise, because they know Americans care about freedom of religion. If China makes concession in religious freedom, then U.S. should compromise in trade. It’s CPC who politicizes religious freedom, not Christians.”

Liao fled to Taiwan with his extended family after the Chinese government shuttered the church in December 2018. The video, recorded in May, accompanies the ICC’s new report on Religious Suppression in China, examining the “legal underpinnings and practical implications of China’s systematic repression of religion.”

Continued persecution of Christian families

Even as Early Rain Covenant Church founder Wang Yi and a church elder remain imprisoned for their faith, Qiang said China continues to persecute members of the church, forbidding parents to enroll their children in church schools, threatening to send children to government re-education camps, and forcibly sending adopted children back to their birth parents.

“The reason why we left China is because the Chinese Communist Party is limitless in its persecution. They not only threatened us, normal adult, normal church members, but they threatened our children,” Liao said.

“Some of our members have adopted children, and CPC forcibly sent the adoptive children back to the original family. That is the main reason why we fled China. Because we can’t guarantee our adopted child would not be taken away by them.”

The CPC forcibly removed four adopted children from one Early Rain Covenant Church family, returned them to their biological parents and eventually dispersed them among other homes, Qiang said.

“This is a living tragedy,” Liao said. “Their constant oppression made me feel we must flee China, because our children are most important to us.”

Government has sweeping authority

Gina Goh, ICC’s regional manager for Southeast Asia and the author of the report, said China’s vaguely worded constitution allows the government to define what falls within the realm of “normal religious activities,” giving the government the authority to “crack down on certain religious practices or even disband them.”

The government established its own set of rules governing religion in 2018. The “Regulations on Religious Affairs” bypassed passage by the National People’s Congress and the Standing Committee because the rules are regulations, not laws, Goh said.

Faith leaders are charged with such crimes as illegal business operation, unlawful assembly, disrupting public order or endangering national assembly.

Gary Bauer, a commissioner with the nonpartisan United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, participated in ICC’s webinar to release the report. Bauer thanked the ICC for its advocacy and commended the Trump Administration for prioritizing international religious freedom.