A new report from ChinaAid, a non-governmental Christian non-profit that focuses on human rights abuses and religious freedom in China, is drawing attention to increased levels of persecution in the Asian nation. The data presents a variety of forms of persecution, including sinicization, educational reforms, and widespread rights abuses, while highlighting how the laws of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have tightened in the last year.
ChinaAid released the 63-page document, the Annual Persecution Report 2022, on February 14. The report notes that government pressure on Christian churches and faithful to yield to political ideology have made them hesitant to expose their plight to the rest of the world. As China’s efforts to sinicize – transform the faith to become more in-line with Chinese culture – intensify, those in opposition face heightened persecution.
According to UCANews, critics of the CCP have been quick to denounce the policy of sinicization in China. Wang Yang, a Political Bureau member of the CCP, summed up the policy at a January 27 symposium, in Beijing:
Wang stated that “religious groups should unite the majority of religious adherents around the CCP and government to forge a “positive energy” to help realize the “Chinese Dream.”
Wang went on to urge faith leaders to stay on the “correct political path” and ardently support the CCP. His further comments suggest that the CCP is turning to the tactic for fear of “infiltration of overseas forces,” further suggesting that the country views the Christian faith as a force of cultural invasion, to some extent.
The report continues to note a surge of government ordered church demolitions. A Gothic style church in the Catholic Diocese of Taiyuan was leveled along with its bell tower in August, and in June a Catholic church in Shijiazhuang city was destroyed after Bishop Dong Baolu refused to join the state-run patriotic church system. The report lists at least four other cities in which Christian denominations, including Catholics, have seen their houses of worship demolished.
ChinaAid also examined the government’s legal prosecutions of Christians on fabricated charges that have led to arrests and convictions of lay Christians. They report that provincial and local governments have detained Christians all over the nation, denying them attorney and family visits. The report paints the picture of disproportionate punishments for alleged crimes of belief, with prisoners facing long months in captivity before getting their day in court.
Those lay Christians awaiting trial may still be the lucky ones, as reports of cleric disappearances continue to be widespread. The report highlights four bishops of note, as well as at least 10 priests, who have disappeared without a trace or explanation. The CCP has further engaged in harassment and intimidation of the faithful; interrupting worship services, baptisms, pilgrimages, and even online church services.