This week, China celebrates 100 years of the Chinese Communist Party. But don’t be fooled by skyscrapers and consumer goods. One hundred years later, China is still a communist nation. And its leaders still hate Christians who refuse to bow to their ideology, writes Dr. David Landrum.
As images of ecstatic East Germans dancing on the ruins of the Berlin Wall spread across the world, it seemed like the writing was on the wall for Communism. Nation after nation, one-party socialist governments were overthrown. Even the mighty Russian monster has embraced a new era of openness, or Perestroika, and tried to engage more with market forces.
Writer Francis Fukuyama proclaimed that this was âthe end of historyâ. In other words, liberal democracy was the last ideology in force and would henceforth be the only, the only way to run a nation.
That same year, 1989 was the year of student protests in Tiananmen Square, calling for democracy, free speech, and a free press. However, these ended in a very different way, with a bloody government crackdown, which Chinese authorities still barely recognize as history today.
It seemed that Chinese Communism did not go in the direction of the Polish, Yugoslav and other Soviet models. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), first founded in 1921, was a tougher and cunning beast. Again and again, just like Madonna, he never stopped reinventing himself.
To retain power, the CCP began to pursue a âone nation – two systemsâ policy in which social and political Marxism rubbed shoulders with free market capitalism. Western companies have rushed to tap into this vast new market. With the rollout of Brexit, China has become our biggest import market as we spend tens of billions on electrical gadgets, clothing and, ironically, PPE and Covid test kits for the NHS.
People often think that China is communist in name only. But don’t be fooled by the gleaming skyscrapers and shiny smartphones. It is, a hundred years later, still an essentially Marxist nation. And it should concern us all – especially if we care about religious freedom, which is slowly being crushed by the CCP.
Certainly, we are not in the days of Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution, responsible for, at the very least, 45 million deaths, the massive shutdowns of churches and the forced “re-education” of believers. However, the prognosis for religious freedom – as for many other types of freedom – is very bad right now – and is getting poorer.
Each year, Open Doors publishes The World Watch List, a ranking of the 50 nations where Christians face the worst persecution and discrimination. Year after year, China has surged in the rankings, dropping from number 43 in 2018 to number 17 this year. It is a shocking trend and a sign of a deeper disease in the party and the nation.
China has dramatically intensified its persecution of Christians and other faiths. For Christians, the new era of persecution involves pastors jailed without trial, churches demolished without warning, crosses torn from churches, devotees forced to praise the CCP, and even Bible stories altered to better align with ideology. of State.
Recently, Open Doors commemorated Operation Pearl, in which 40 years ago, a million Bibles were smuggled into China overnight. Today, access to the Scriptures remains difficult. There has been a crackdown on the availability of Bibles, while online Bible apps and Christian chat rooms have been closed. As technology is militarized by the CCP, cyberspace becomes a new frontier of control over its own citizens, ushering in the era of digital persecution – something it exports to other repressive regimes.
Along with online censorship, churches are being forced to install facial recognition technology, so the state can record who has attended a service. Mobile phone technology effectively follows citizens throughout their lives. All of this is built into China’s “social credit system” which enables the suppression of Christians in a myriad of day-to-day activities such as education, employment, and the criminal justice system. It is perhaps not surprising to hear Christians turn off their cell phones in their microwave (isolated) when they come together to worship.
More recently, with the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and greater political and media exposure of China’s global economic expansionism, President Xi Jinping’s emphasis on making the CCP a synonym of identity Chinese national government has the potential to turn any dissident group or individual into “enemies of the state.”
There is a sting in the tail: The agenda to intimidate and diminish Christianity is in large part due to the phenomenal growth of the Chinese church. With very conservative estimates of 100 million believers in China, there are now more Christians than there are CCP members. And with the church growing steadily at an annual rate of seven percent, there is a very real possibility that China will become a predominantly Christian nation in a few decades. The Chinese establishment is worried – it should be!
As the CCP celebrates 100 years of its bloody and brutal existence, China’s imperial claims pose a clear and present danger to all free societies. Meeting this challenge will require great political determination. It will also have to be recognized that while the Chinese Communist Party presents an assortment of ideologies including capitalism, fascism, and nationalism, it remains very communist at heart – the same dangerous ideology that nations faced in the past. Cold War era when Brother Andrew bravely smuggled Bibles to persecuted believers behind the Iron Curtain.
Within China, it will be the power of prayer and the gospel that Christians will need to respond to the iron fist of totalitarianism. After all, it is the gospel that sets people free – a freedom so dangerous that it calls into question the future existence of the CCP. The challenge for Christians in the West is to support our brothers and sisters – spiritually and materially – urgently.
Dr David Landrum is the Advocacy Director for Open Doors UK & Ireland, part of Open Doors International, a global network of NGOs that has supported and empowered persecuted Christians for over 60 years and works in over 60 countries .