Censoring social media part of China's 'draconian' plan to persecute Christians

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez |

(Vsevolod Malakho/Twitter, Sept. 23)This Twitter photo dated Sept. 23 exemplifies the use of social media to garner support for China's Christian churches which face widespread persecution. In this photo, Chinese authorities tear down two Christian churches. A third church had its cross removed.

BEJING, China (Christian Examiner) -- A move by China's president to step up Internet censorship is nothing more than Xi Jinping's aim at "purifying cyberspace" and evidence of long-standing "draconian policies" with radical implications for the persecuted Christians in the Communist nation, a humanitarian groups says.

A warning issued by China's president last week indicated renewed vigor for religious policies to stop the spread of non-communist values in the nation. Yet the accompanying emphasis on Internet censorship could reveal the real purpose of a high-level Communist Party conference.

As numerous policies were addressed as part of a three-day policy meeting, President Xi Jinping also reportedly sought to unite the Communist Party and non-Communist social media leaders to oppose dissension "in the name of nationalism," according to a written statement by Kody Kness, China Aid vice president. 

The timely disclosure of incidents of persecution greatly assisted the international community to understand the unfortunate reality for religious practitioners in China and the restrictions on religious freedom
- China Aid, 2014 Annual Report

"President Xi's plea to the youth and social media representatives signals the Communist party's weakness, namely a generation unwilling to trade freedom and basic civil and political rights for party allegiance and prosperity," Kness said.

It is that generational unwillingness to which Kness refers coupled with the use of social media that has proved a powerful defense for religious freedom against an oppressive Chinese government.

According to the organization's 2014 report titled "The Year of 'Persecution and Endurance'" it is through the use of social media that "religious practitioners throughout China bravely disclosed information regarding persecution in order to expose illegal practices of local government officials."

In one example from the non-profit group, by drawing international exposure to government-led persecution with photos, texts, and videos administered through various social media outlets, human rights lawyers were able to secure the release of more than 100 Chinese Christians jailed for their faith last year.

The China Aid report notes: "The timely disclosure of incidents of persecution greatly assisted the international community to understand the unfortunate reality for religious practitioners in China and the restrictions on religious freedom. Through citizen reporting on persecution via social media, it is apparent that the CPC does not value rule of law or religious freedom and has consistently attempted to restrain and reform all religion in China, often deeming religious practitioners who assert their rights as merely government dissenters."

Although the Communist Party and it's members are officially atheist, the Chinese constitution allows its Chinese citizens religious freedom. However, in recent months Chinese Christian churches in the provincial capital of Zhejiang, have been forced to remove crosses from their church buildings in efforts to silence religious expression.

Through social media and the internet photographs have circulated evidencing the removal of the Christian symbols and in some cases the demolition of entire buildings.

The anti-church confrontations have led numerous Christian groups worldwide to mobilize events, often on social media, and stand in solidarity with the persecuted Christians in China.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Activists respond after Chinese government demolishes crosses & churches

Chinese Christians face fiercest persecution in a decade

Christians in China brace for persecution