New wave of oppression
According to Bob Fu, president of the NGO China Aid, the situation for Christians in China has changed under President Xi Jinping, who took office in 2013. “Officially Christianity was not overtly regarded as a national security threat” under the previous administrations of presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao.
Although China’s constitution guarantees freedom of religious belief , Fu said that Christianity has become a “major target” in China and is now being treated as “a political and security threat to the regime.”
David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA, stated that there has been a change from previous trends to recognize Christians as productive members of Chinese society. He stated “China has the goal of nationalizing Christians ….It has had a chilling effect on religious freedom in China.”
The worsening situation can be compared to a “new Cultural Revolution.” Fu said “Christians, including Catholics have been asked to change into a different version of belief under the banner of ‘Sinicization of religion’ in order to make Christianity compatible with socialism.”
The authorities’ focus previously had been on unregistered Protestant and Catholic churches. Now, even registered churches are coming under increased scrutiny and even persecution. Some church properties have recently been rezoned to allow for demolition and local pastors are even required to meet weekly with local officials to discuss their sermons in advance. Some leaders of government sanctioned churches, including Rev Gu, have been arrested and face heavy criminal sentences.