The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is continuing to tighten regulations on all religious activity, including Christianity, alongside the CCP’s emphasis on “Sinicisation” (making Chinese).
In measures effective from March 2022, conducting religious activities online now requires official authorisation. Organisations and individuals wishing to provide religious information online must apply to their local Department of Religious Affairs office. Sermons, worship services and training activities run by religious groups, religious schools, and temples and churches may be broadcast online only after obtaining a special licence. Some churches have successfully gained licences, which are valid for three years.
Content aimed at young people is also severely restricted, and no foreign organisations or individuals are allowed to operate online religious information services within China.
Regulations introduced in June 2022 by the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) and the Ministry of Finance increased state oversight and regulation of the finances of churches and other places of worship.
Despite continuing measures against unofficial congregations, known as “house churches”, the number of Christians continues to rise, estimated at around 150 million. The intensity of persecution varies across the country, often initiated at provincial or city level but in the knowledge of the CCP’s approval. Many house churches have been closed and members arrested. Crosses have been removed from churches, and Biblical paintings or Scriptures replaced with portraits of President Xi Jinping or his quotes.
The CCP’s high-tech surveillance systems continue to target non-atheist minorities. A sustained campaign of persecution has seen tens of thousands of Muslim Uyghurs interned in “re-education” camps in Xijiang province.
At the 20th CCP National Congress in October 2022, President Xi was chosen to lead for a third term, suggesting that existing repressive policies against Christians are likely to continue.
Pray that Christians will grow in resolve and strength even as restrictions against them are tightened. Ask that God will give wisdom to church leaders in how to respond to new regulations. Pray that authorities will see Christians as a force for good and harmony in Chinese society.