Christian religious freedom campaigners have given a stark warning on Chinese New Year about a new way in which Christians are being oppressed in the country.
Campaigners have said that schoolchildren are being made to declare whether they are Christians, and those who admit their faith are required by the Communist Party to sign a declaration that they will renounce Christianity.
Bob Fu, president and founder ChinaAid told Voice of the Martys Canada: “If parents and grandparents refuse to cooperate in making their children denounce their faith, then their job security is jeopardised. Cases show that grandparents can lose their public health and welfare if parents fail to dissuade their children from believing in Christianity”.
Fu, a prominent religious freedom campaigner, explained that a mother was teaching her five children at home about literature, maths and religion, when she found herself surrounded by police and arrested.
“She learned that her husband had reported her faith,” he said. “You can only imagine the kind of trauma this is causing right inside the family.’
UK-based charity Release International, a partner of China Aid, has again named China as a country of particular concern in its 2024 Persecution Trends report.
Andrew Boyd from the charity told Premier Christian News, the crackdown is extremely hard to navigate due to surveillance, censorship and control from the Chinese government.
“There are so many CCTV cameras within China, he said. “Conservative estimates put it at around about 200 million but Released International partners believe there may be many more than that.
“But they know that the face recognition cameras are being put up in every pulpit and in the four corners of [State recognised] churches. It's monitoring the congregation, and the reason it's doing that is not only to track those who are turning up, but to dissuade people from turning up.
“It's illegal for you to bring your children to church, if they're under the age of 18. Children cannot go to church. Church is off limits to Communist Party members, civil servants, police officers, and members of the military. So those cameras are there to ensure that they never go near a church.
“How do you navigate that if you want to stay true to your faith? You probably have to join an underground church and run the gauntlet of all those CCTV cameras in order to worship secretly and in China, unfortunately, illegally”.
Campaigners say although the goal of the Communist Party is to eliminate Christianity in its country, Christians are still estimated to make up between 6 and 7 per-cent of the population, which exceeds the number of members of the Communist Party.
Listen to Premier’s full interview with Andrew Boyd here: