Open Doors CEO David Curry joined with pastors from China to issue a dire warning concerning Christian persecution in China. We have documented previously how China is actively working against the free expression of Christianity in China, viewing it as an existential threat to its existence.
China has developed a countrywide system for tracking every citizen in their normal day-to-day activities. Every phone conversation, every meeting, every association; anything everybody does throughout the country is being monitored.
These surveillance technologies certainly threaten the free expression of religion in China, but the threat is much more expansive than just China.
Open Doors warns that China may be signaling the future of invasive monitoring technologies throughout the world – not just in China.
World Watch List concerning Persecution in China
Open Doors just released its influential list of the top fifty countries where Christians and other religious minorities are being persecuted. This release is an event attending by representatives of the Trump administration, Congress, and various human rights activists.
The greatest threat to the free expression of faith throughout the world is likely to be China. The country had a significant increase in the persecution rankings of nations from 27 to 23 on the report.
While there are other nations whose government more aggressively persecutes its citizens, the real threat from China is more subtle. The nation is preparing to start aggressive surveillance of all its citizens with the issuance of a “social rank” system.
Having a good social rank means you will be able to enjoy the benefits of being a Chinese citizen including the ability to get a good job, to travel freely throughout the country, to have a bank account, and to get your children into good schools and higher education.
Having a poor social rank means just the opposite. You will no longer be able to work and associate freely, your children will be unable to get good jobs or attend a university and likely will be only able to get a manual labor job if at all.
This carrot and stick approach to social management is driving the implementation of a security system to monitor every living person in the country.
Monitors will be everywhere. Some will be the electronic monitors that will be present in every store, every street corner, every school room, every store, and throughout the countryside.
There are also flesh and blood monitors watching your every move as well. Children are required to report their siblings or their parents if either develops any religious tendencies. Children are told their parents may want to become martyrs and take their life if left to follow Christianity; they need to be helped – turn them in.
Follow the Leader
The “Leader” in China, of course, is Xi. His portrait and sayings are everywhere. In an eerie replay of Mao Tse Tung’s omnipresent face and Little Red Book, Xi’s picture replaces every picture of Christ in every church throughout China.
Xi’s sayings are taken as the new gospel; they are to be memorized and honored as Truth. If you disrespect Xi, you may find yourself with a lower social score or if the offense is serious enough, you may just disappear.
Some minorities are being especially hard hit. The Uighurs – a Muslim minority in northeast China, are being attacked especially hard. At least 1 million Uighurs have been interned since 2017 in so-called “re-education camps.”
The government had protested that such camps did not even exist. However, after images of these camps appeared throughout the internet along with watchtowers and barbed wire fences, the government acknowledged these centers.
Uighurs make very clear, however, that they were ill-treated and not re-educated in these camps. They were detained, interrogated, and beaten because of their Muslim religion.
Uighurs Persecution in China
The Chinese province of Xinjiang has been under Chinese control since it was annexed in 1949 upon formation of the People’s Republic of China.
Most Uighurs still identify as belonging to their homeland previously known as East Turkestan. . The area is important to China and is designated a “special economic zone” as it is rich in oil and miner supplies.
China claims the Uighurs hold “extremist views” and claims they are a threat to their national security. The Chinese legislature passed a law prohibiting Uighur men from wearing long beards and the women from wearing veils. Dozens of mosques have been destroyed as the people are encouraged to abandon Islam and follow only the Chinese government.
Christian Persecution in China
The Chinese are concerned unregulated Christianity offers an alternative worldview from Communism and therefore is a threat to the government. Christianity has to be controlled or else it must be destroyed.
The more a surveilled person is seen going to church, the more they are labeled a “radical” with serious consequences.
The Chinese are shutting down home churches on a massive scale. Churches that refuse to place surveillance cameras to watch their congregations are destroyed and frequently the pastors are arrested..
Pastor Jian Zhu was raised in China and now works as director of the China Institute of Lincoln Christian University in Illinois, notes that the persecution of Christians is now the worse he has seen.
The Chinese government now has placed severe restrictions and policies on the house churches, asking neighbors to spy on one another, pressures school teachers and college professors to betray and sign a statement to denounce their faith as well as to do the same to the students.
He also notes churches are required to take down any cross on the inside or outside of their buildings and put up pictures of President Xi Jinping. Underground churches are also accused of illegally fundraising because they collect money from their congregants.
Ziu notes some cities are shutting down all churches. He notes,
Now, they are trying to eliminate Christianity from public life. Cameras are all over to watch church and Christians go to Sunday service. Families are threatened to not go to church or they will be punished or their relatives could be in trouble.
Open Doors notes,
They are using this artificial intelligence and surveillance to a whole new level. All indications show that in 20209 — and this is why we are highlighting this — they are bringing these two systems together. They are merging the social scoring system and surveillance and artificial intelligence to give them the tools and the power to oppress the people.
He then noted,
Muslims are forced to give up their faith and their culture. it’s only a matter of time before the world is going to jump on this technology because China is selling it to Iran, they’re looking to sell it to Egypt and other countries as well.
It is hard to overstate the danger of pervasive government spying on its citizen in the name of stopping terrorism or maintaining social order.
The vast social monitoring system in China is being implemented at a very rapid rate, and its totalitarian consequences are everywhere . Innocent people with no agenda other than to live a peaceful life are being caught up in the total surveillance system.
Children are being encouraged to spy on their parents while students are encouraged to spy on their teachers. In a page right out of the Gestapo from Nazi Germany neighbors are spying on neighbors. A knock on the door in the middle of the night from the police is becoming ever more common throughout the country where people are arrested for what they might do, rather than what they have done.
Electronic surveillance systems are being marketed to other totalitarian countries throughout the world raising the very real possibility such a system might metastasize globally. Iran is thought to have a similar system where citizens are identified through facial recognition software and their movements continuously monitored.
Many Christians have a very ominous view of their surveillance system as it sounds eerily like that mentioned in the Biblical Book of Revelations where citizens who do not support the centralized government will not be able to buy or sell anything anywhere. Those who fail to conform will be easily identified and taken into custody.
The future is here – and it is very frightening.