The War on Religion in China

09/24/2020 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Over the past few years, we have only seen the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities increase in China. This spike in oppression sits primarily on the shoulders of China’s president, Xi Jinping.

ICC’s president Jeff King recently sat down with Olivia Enos, a senior analyst with the Heritage Foundation, to unpack this surge in persecution.

Would you take a moment to prayer for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering in China at this very moment? To listen to the full podcast episode, click here.

Transcript:

The church in China is going through its biggest crackdown in 40 years. But the abuses of the Chinese administration go way beyond that. They’ve enslaved 2 million or more of their own people. They illegally annexed Hong Kong. Hong Kong was a democratic country. They took it over illegally just recently, millions of Hong Kong are in the streets saying we don’t want any part of this. And they were crushed brutally. So unfortunately that ship has sailed.

They’re also enslaving countries around the world economically, and they do it because then they can build out military bases. So they get control of them and then build military bases and naval bases, et cetera. And apart from that here, probably one of the scariest things is they have built a surveillance system for their whole population. And so they have millions of cameras watching every movement of their citizens’ activities. And it’s tied into facial recognition, artificial intelligence. I’m telling you this thing is like out of Revelation where it says that people can either buy or sell without the government’s permission. That’s what it reminds me of.

Look, all this at the head of the snake is present Xi Jinping. He’s completely bent towards domination and aggression. And here’s the question I keep asking myself, is this a narcissistic garden variety dictator that’s going to come and go, or are we watching the early years of a Hitler who’s going to ignite the world in war down the road because of his aggression? We don’t really know. I don’t know, but I want to get to the bottom of that. So we’ve been doing a lot of work on China.

I interviewed Olivia Enos down at the Heritage Foundation. She’s a China expert and has a lot of insight. If you’re a China watcher, you’re going to want to watch this. You don’t want to miss this one. So sit back and enjoy. You can get the podcast on our website or wherever you pull your podcasts from. But God bless and enjoy.

Jeff King:

Olivia, just talk about what is this administration and who they turned out to be? What are they doing, the guys that are running China right now?

Olivia Enos:

Yeah, absolutely. So the leader of China is Xi Jinping, and I think we have not seen such an authoritarian leader in China since Mao. He is really reminiscent of a lot of the policies that Mao put into place, whether that’s collectivization, silencing of religious groups, suppression of civil and political liberties. We’re seeing this on a massive scale, and Xi Jinping has definitely consolidated power in ways that his predecessors really did not. Whereas we saw a move toward liberalism and more openness from China under Deng Xiaoping, we’re definitely not seeing that under Xi Jinping.

Olivia Enos:

And so one of the ways that I think this is really demonstrated is that Xi Jinping actually eliminated term limits for himself so that he could stay in power. And then subsequently, and I think really relevant to our audience here is just that he instituted new regulations on religious affairs back I believe it was in 2018, and that made it so that all religion needed to basically manifest at characteristics that were in line with the vision of the Chinese communist party. And I think that the way in which Xi Jinping has targeted religious groups. And if this is any religious group, whether Muslim, Christian, Catholic, Falun Gong Tibetan Buddhists, we just see it across the board, the whole gamut that they have this desire for religion to be tamed and under the hat of the Chinese communist party. And that has resulted in just the Chinese government has always targeted persons of religious faith that I think we’re seeing it at a new and more pernicious level now.

Jeff King:

Yeah, that’s a great summary. And I’m hearing and what I’ve seen is basically look, the Chinese, the communist party was on a 40-year upswing, not necessarily heading towards democracy, but it was heading towards some kind of hybrid communism and a much more relaxed version. Then you had Tiananmen Square. So it had its ups and downs, but there was a clear trajectory. So here comes Xi, and we are back to the Mao years.

Olivia Enos:

In more recent years, we have seen extreme persecution. Today there are between one and three million Muslims believed to be in political reeducation facilities where they are subject to basically indoctrination, reeducation. They’re forced to learn Mandarin. Some have been subject to torture. New and emerging reports suggest that some individuals have been subject to forced abortions or sterilization. In such a way that now even members of Congress are calling on the administration to investigate whether or not genocide is taking place there.

Olivia Enos:

I think we have not seen the rapid collectivization and subsequent internment of people in many, many years, especially in the Chinese context. I mean, the Chinese government has long engaged in putting people in reeducation or in prison, extrajudicially, but on such a massive and widespread scale, I don’t think it’s really happened.

Jeff King:

That’s a great summary. And I think the big point is where you started. It’s mind boggling. It’s a million plus people in prison camps. So they’re called reeducation camps, but they’re taken from their lives and stuck in these places. And only the Chinese could do it with such scale and efficiency. It’s just mind boggling. What’s been the treatment of Christians?

Olivia Enos:

What we see is that a lot of Christian pastors are taken in, and in fact, there is several but one that I’ll name. Pastor Wang Yi, who was sentenced last year to more than six years in prison and fined significantly for the role that he played in the Early Rain Covenant Church, and the Early Rain Covenant Church beyond being like a Gospel-preaching church was also very actively involved in responding to natural disasters like when the earthquakes came. And even more have been involved because the church continues to run quietly in response to COVID-19 and trying to alleviate suffering there.

Olivia Enos:

But we see pastors being thrown into prison. We see churches being shuttered by the Chinese communist party forcibly. We see individuals being taken in for questioning and tortured. We see crosses being taken down from churches, and the Chinese communist party asks that if you are a unregistered church, like Early Rain Covenant Church, that you register with the Chinese communist party. And when you do that, you become subject to what they believe the Gospel is, which is very distorted, not in any way sticking to the inerrancy of scripture. It really makes the Gospel subservient.

Jeff King:

It really serves the party.

Olivia Enos:

Yes. Exactly. Subservient to the party. And so it’s just very, very concerning. And so, yeah, Christians are just very persecuted, and we have to keep watching for that and praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ. And I think Christians should be active and involved in promoting the religious freedom of all groups in China. Not only because it’s beneficial for believers, but also because we should be promoting religious freedom so people can freely practice their faith.

Jeff King:

Thank you so much for all the work you do for waking the world up to the evil that’s out there and is always ready to take over and to stand for freedom and for justice. And you’re just an amazing resource. And we just thank you for everything you’re doing.

Olivia Enos:

Well, thank you so much for having me. This has been such a joy and a pleasure to talk about this, and hopefully we can see good things for China and for North Korea in the future.

Jeff King:

If not now, they’re coming later. We just need to pray that way. Bless you. Thank you so much, Olivia.

ICC is on a mission to help persecuted Christians. Will you join us?