(Photo: Reuters / Petar Kujundzic)
China Aid Association revealed in its annual Persecution report that persecution of Christians in China continues to rise, with house and urban churches being some of the main targets.
According to the statistics, government persecution in the world's most populous country, where Christians make up only 3-4 percent, "worsened significantly" in 2013. Persecution rose by 38.82 percent since 2012.
"House churches in China had a difficult year in 2013, but we won't lose heart. Oppositely, only in such circumstances can churches be constantly purified, free of blemishes, mature and strong, and prepared for even greater mission," said Bob Fu, founder and president of China Aid.
"When political regimes and figures, one by one, sink into the long river of history, Jesus Christ's Church stands tall and firm, and like it was 2,000 years ago; even the power of Hell cannot triumph over it."
The detailed 2013 report noted that persecution has manifested itself under the aim "destroying Christianity's accumulated social cultural capital," something which is in danger of becoming a long-term guiding principle for the Chinese government.
The Texas-based nonprofit organization reported similar results in 2012, noting that there was an uptick in government persecution for the seventh consecutive year.
In total, ChinaAid said that it documented 143 cases in 2013 where 7,424 people were persecuted.
Of the different categories it looked at – including the total number of persecution cases, the number of people persecuted, the number of people detained, the number of people sentenced, the number of abuse cases and the number of people abused – all but one increased between 2 and 50.9 percent. Only the number of abuse (verbal, mental, and physical abuse and torture) cases fell, by 42.9 percent since 2012.
Other persecution watchdog groups like Open Doors note a moderate level of persecution in China. In the group's 2014 World Watch List, China was listed as number 37 on the list of countries where Christians are most persecuted, keeping its same rank from 2013.
"The Communist government continues to keep a close watch on Christian activities. Some churches are state-approved and controlled, some are illegal and the state fights against them, and the majority are not registered, but tolerated," Open Doors writes.