China has reportedly announced an intensified campaign against Christian churches ahead of a national summit on religion.
The Chinese Communist Party is gearing up for a more rigorous crackdown on Christian churches in the country. The announcement from Zhongguo Mingzu Bao, the Party's official paper dealing with religious matters, comes in the wake of the series of arrests of Christian ministers and closing down of churches, according to Breitbart.
In the past two years, China has been tightening regulations on Christian groups in the country. In the eastern province of Zhejiang, the government has taken down crosses from buildings and demolished around 1,700 churches, Christian Today (CT) reports.
President Xi Jinping's rule has reportedly brought the worst anti-Christian campaign in China in the past 20 years. In 2014 alone, the Chinese government has arrested almost 1,000 rights activists in connection with the crackdown on human rights.
"We must manage religious affairs in accordance with the law and adhere to the principle of independence to run religious groups on our own accord," CT quotes Xi's statement during a CPC meeting last year." Active efforts should be made to incorporate religions into socialist society."
This year, prominent Christian lawyer Zhang Kai was detained for representing Christian churches amid the government's move to take down crosses from establishments. Authorities said Zhang has become a threat to China's "national security." His present location has also been kept from his family and the public, the report details.
Just last month, a Christian pastor in Anhui province was arrested after being accused of engaging in "cult activities" and for allegedly communicating with organizations outside of the country. Pastor Lu Jiangyang was freed after 15 days, but his arrest clearly told other clergy that the Chinese government can take down Christian churches at liberty.
In July, Lu had also been arrested for organizing a church summer camp for school-aged children, the report adds.
The report by Zhongguo Mingzu Bao says President Xi wants to have more control on churches and other religious organizations in the country, especially because Christianity is experiencing massive growth in the country with an estimated 10,000 people being converted daily. Xi also aims to reduce foreign influence in China, especially in the religious sector.