China just did the something that they have never done before – failed to publish an economic growth target this year. This is just the first sign of troubles in China.
On Thursday, 2,057 of China’s top Communist Party members descended down on Beijing to host the biggest government meeting of the year. The session had already been delayed by 78 days due to the coronavirus.
There is both fear and anger in the air surrounding this high profile meeting. There is a fear of the current pandemic. There is a fear of the crashing economy. There is a fear from the record number of unemployed. There is a fear of protests erupting all over the country.
And there is also anger. There is anger that Christianity continues to grow in China despite all of the efforts to stop it. There is anger that Taiwan is making noise at the WHO. There is anger that Hong Kong has not shut down the massive protests. There is anger that America and many nations around the world are pointing the finger of blame, in regards to the pandemic, at China.
In their anger, the government is threatening to strip away more freedoms from Christians in China. If there is any doubt about this anger, just take a look at what the official government newspaper Xinhua report passionately published recently. “Who ever sets up a chat group online is responsible for it! Many group leaders have already been detained.” “Did you really think that being an online group host is free and easy? Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!”
Yes – that is a direct translation.
Chat groups on WeChat have grown increasingly popular in China among Christians. Anyone can create a group and host about 500 people, but what those groups discuss is always monitored by the government. Sometimes China will post a friendly icon of a police officer on your screen, just to remind you that you are not alone. On October 8, 2017, when China posted the new laws about religion, they also posted new laws about chat groups. The two go hand-in-hand. Chat groups had been used as an effective way to evangelize, so China implemented new regulations. These regulations, issued by China’s Cyberspace Administration, stipulate that those who establish and manage an online (chat) group are responsible for its content. Even if you do not share about Jesus in your group, you can be arrested if someone else shares about Jesus in your group and you failed to police them.
There is a fear and anger stirring in China, but not among the Chinese Christians. The believers in China know what it is to be persecuted and they have been tested. The church continues to grow.
BTJ is working with the church to continue to find ways around the new regulations to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Please continue to pray for the leadership in China, the creativity and perseverance of the underground church, and the vision of Back to Jerusalem.
BTJ is watching the current government session in China closely and will continue to report on the meeting.