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Chinese Christian bookstore takes 'Jesus' off book covers to bypass internet censorship laws

by Tola Mbakwe

Two Christian organisations have had to resort to removing the word 'Jesus' from their resources in order to evade the nation's internet censorship laws.

The Christian Council of China and the Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches of China own an online bookstore on Chinese social media platform WeChat.  

According to persecution watchdog China Aid, the bookstore, called Tianfengshuyuan, has had to update all of the covers and description of their books to take away any reference to Christianity. 

They are using Chinese pinyin writing to replace 'Christ', 'Jesus', 'Christians' and other words. 

The book store owners replaced all Chinese characters for "Christ" with "JD," or even completely removed "Christ" from its books. 

In Chinese pinyin, "Christ" is spelled "ji du."

In the book title of "Walking with the mother country-patriotic stories of Chinese Christians," 'Christians' is covered with colour blocks.  

Photo Credit: China Aid

Fuzeng Xing, Dean of Chung Chi Seminary of Chinese University of Hong Kong, wrote on his Facebook page: "In their official WeChat store, not only does 'Christ' become 'JD,' 'Jesus' also becomes 'YS,' and 'Bible' becomes 'SJ.'"

China Aid said stores are also covering any occurrences of other religious terms like "God" and "Lord" with colour blocks.

Even though The Christian Council of China and the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches of China are both official government-sanctioned religious organisations, they are prohibited from selling Christian books under Chinese law. 

In 2018, a law came into effect which banned the Bible from all online booksellers in throughout China. 

China Aid said: "Unlike Buddhist and Islamic books, as the "Holy Bible" does not have an ISBN in China, regular book stores do not sell Bibles there. People can only buy them legally from government-sanctioned "three-self" churches, Christian Council of China stores, or the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches of China scenes."

In 2001, Zuoan Wang, head of China's national religious affairs bureau, said: "The printing and distributing of the Holy Bible is under a special condition. We delegated the whole thing to the Christian Council of China and the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches of China. It's like granting a 'special privilege' to them."

Earlier this month a Chinese Christian bookstore owner was sentenced to seven years in prison for selling unapproved religious publications imported from Taiwan, the US and other countries

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