Standing in the China immigration line behind a group of Asian Americans from California at the Shenzhen Lowu border, I witnessed something I have not seen in years – an aggressive immigration officer with good English.
“Why are you coming to China?” the officer said, as he pulled one of the Americans away from the immigration desk and conducted a kind of informal immigration review.
“For the trade fair in Guangzhou,” the Californian man responded, showing all of his reservations, invitations, and travel tickets.
“Why? Why do you want to come to China for the trade show?”
It was not long before I was being questioned by the same aggressive immigration agent, who took me to a back room behind the immigration desks. “What is your business in Lowu,” He asked looking at my official visa.
“For shopping,” I responded. Before the pandemic, Lowu was a major hub for foreign residents in Hong Kong looking to buy cheap goods.
“Why come to Lowu when things are cheaper in Hong Kong?”
To the idea that I could buy things cheaper in Hong Kong than Lowu, I literally laughed out loud! I couldn’t help myself. The agent had clearly overreached and he knew it. After about fifteen minutes of making me wait alone in a room by myself, he finally let me into the country, but his presence is just one of the many reasons for foreign investors feeling unwelcome in China.
The American group in front of me in Shenzhen were on their way to the Canton Fair which kicked off on April 15. China was supposed to be launching a charm offensive to lure investors back to China after three years of some of the most draconian lockdowns in the world. However, it seems that their ‘zero-tolerance’ policy created an aggressive authoritarian police state that is not so easy to change.
As a result, the Canton Fair, the first they have had since the country dropped all their Covid restrictions, fell flat. With Chinese vendors desperately needing foreign customers for their goods, ranging from toys to electronics, they needed big results, and they simply didn’t get it.
Investors have been fleeing China in droves and they are taking their production factories with them and Christians know why.
What is happening in China should teach us a lesson that Christians have known for generations and that is that economic freedom can only exist where religious freedom flourishes. Since 2019, when China launched its strongest persecution against Christians, their economy has taken a nose dive. The Canton Fair is perhaps just the latest victim of China’s persecution against the church.