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Hong Kong's freedom needs to be protected for Christians' freedom, says campaigner

by Cara Bentley

In the special administrative region of Hong Kong, there is an increasing fear that China is trying to make the city come more and more under their control.

The former British colony has its own government with separate laws and budget control but still comes under China as a whole.

Recently though, people in Hong Kong say they are noticing their liberties evaporating and want more of a say in their leaders - which has caused weeks of pro-democracy protests.

For Christians, the prospect of China imposing their laws on Hong Kong could also be a frightening thought according to religious freedom charity Release International.

Andrew Boyd from the charity told Premier: "China has been named as a country of concern by a number of different groups. One of the reasons is what appears to be a rise of nationalism within China. We see this in other nations too.

"President Xi Jinping is imposing a policy of 'sinicisation', which is affecting the churches. Now what that means is trying to make them more Chinese. That's what that word means. So, we've seen crosses being ripped down from churches and Chinese flags put up and a great suspicion towards Christians and it is this suspicion and this sense of control which we're seeing reflected on the streets of Hong Kong right now - that's their concern."
China was highlighted in the Bishop of Truro's report into persecuted Christians for suppressing Christians by putting regulations on large churches, imposing limits on where they can meet and restrictions on religious education that make passing on a parent's faith to their child more difficult.
When asked if he supported the pro-democracy protests Andrew Boyd replied: "It's not a Release position to support protests, but we understand why they're doing it and we understand that at the heart of this issue is the desire for freedom and the problem of a state exercising control over them.

"And that's really what the world is seeing when it looks at what is happening in Hong Kong.

"These things have come from the mainland...look at what is happening, particularly towards Christian religious freedom there, because if you don't have that basic freedom of belief, what freedom do you have? All freedoms come from that and China, really, in the 21st century needs to just unclench that fist a bit and give the freedoms that its own people deserve and long for."

What's it like to be a Christian in China? Listen here:


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