Christians in China may not be celebrating Chinese New Year as a persecution charity warns such occasions – as well as covid – could be used as an opportunity to further crackdown on believers.
China’s artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities have been described as “world leading” and are being used to trace underground churches and Christian groups.
In April 2021, popular communication medium WeChat banned the word “Christ” in line with new Chinese laws, but restrictions have since worsened.
Tech experts are warning that China’s AI capabilities span far beyond their borders, with the government likely to be monitoring citizens living overseas.
Christianity is deemed “unpatriotic and pro-Western,” spurring the ill-feeling from the Chinese Communist Party.
Andrew Boyd, from Release International, said: “We know that China is exporting this same state of the art surveillance technology to other nations in the region. So it's a deep concern, and it's not just one for Release International. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom has warned that China is a high-tech surveillance state which is using artificial intelligence to watch and harass Christians and other religious minorities.”
“The Chinese Communist Party is atheist. It's an authoritarian state.
People under the age of 18 are not allowed to go to church in China, forcing young people to attend underground churches instead.
He continued: “Within China, the church is tolerated if they register with the government. It's not supported, but it's tolerated, just; although they have been tearing down official churches.
“But some Christians feel that they can't put up with endless government surveillance and the government deciding who's going to be their pastor, and what they should preach.”
“They will have to worship underground and that makes them illegal. So within China, if a group in your society is doing its own thing, then that raises suspicions that they may be enemies of the state.”