Government oppression is a familiar reality for Chinese Christians, but new enforcement methods raise concern. It’s a troubling development on the heels of the Tiananmen Square Massacre’s 30-year anniversary.
Between June 3 and 4, 1989, unknown thousands of Chinese citizens died at the hands of armed military forces. As recounted here, soldiers had been ordered to clear Beijing’s Tiananmen Square of protestors “by whatever means necessary.” Documents released by China’s government place the death toll between 200 and 300, but BBC News reports 10,000 people perished.
Following the incident in Tiananmen Square, China’s government warmed to Christianity because they saw how it helped society. “The Communist structure had…no moral underpinning… so, they (government officials) allowed Christianity to flourish for a season,” says David Curry of Open Doors USA.
“Now, you see a great tightening of restrictions in a way that we haven’t seen before, largely because of their capacity for surveillance.”
The changing face of persecution in China
As described here by Open Doors USA on its World Watch List, China is the 27th most difficult place in the world to be a Christian:
The management of religious affairs in China lies with the Communist Party now, not just with the government. And Christians are intensely and increasingly feeling this shift and fear of Christian persecution. Since the Communist Party took over, the implementation of the regulations on religion, the treatment of religious groups, especially Christians, became much harsher across the country.
Typically, persecution looks like this: government officials use “the available laws to restrict Christians [and] to ‘pick on’ Christian churches,” Curry explains.
Chinese authorities previously used zoning regulations to tear down church buildings, he describes as an example. Officials in some locations refused to let believers put up crosses or build churches because they lacked the proper permits.
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SOURCE: Mission Network News, Katey Hearth