As the Chinese authorities begin to ease the coronavirus restrictions, the government crackdown on Christians only continues to worsen.
According to human rights organisation Bitter Winter, communist government officials shut down at least 48 different state-sanctioned churches between 18th and 30th April in Yugan county alone. Yugan is home to more than 1 million people, with ten per cent identifying as Protestant.
One unidentified member of a local Three-Self church in Shegeng said that officials, accompanied by the town's mayor, stormed his church in April, forcibly removing its podium, cross and every other visible religious symbol.
The man explained: "Ever since the central religious supervision team was stationed in Yugan county, officials of all government levels don’t dare to relax.
“Whether they demolish a church or a cross, everyone is afraid to challenge them. If you try to protest, they will accuse you of fighting against the Communist Party and the central government.”
Another Christian located in Yugan’s Daxi township revealed that a party official told local believers that they were closing down the area's churches because "there were too many believers in the county.”
"When so many believe in God, who will listen to the Communist Party? There is no other choice but to remove crosses from your churches," the official reportedly stated.
In late March, the Daxi township government launched a fresh crackdown on Christians, aiming to remove religious symbols from rural households. As part of the new rules, villages in the township are prohibited from erecting crosses or display couplets with cross images.
“The government does not allow us to believe in God,” a local believer explained. “Xi Jinping follows the path of Mao Zedong, who cracked down on all religious beliefs and killed people of faith. If you refuse to obey the president who orders you not to attend religious meetings, you’ll be arrested and imprisoned.”