In its latest effort to “guard churches against foreign infiltration,” the Education Bureau of a locality in northeast China launched a special crackdown campaign in April to suppress educational institutions with foreign religious links.
According to Bitter Winter, the Bureau-issued plan seeks to implement President Xi Jinping’s “important instructions not to allow infiltration into our country through religion, not to allow foreign religious forces to develop a system in our country, and not to allow the formation of the forces against the Party and the government in religious fields.”
The document repeatedly highlights the threat imposed by religions on the CCP’s rule. Consequently, educational institutions are instructed to carry out comprehensive three-dimensional anti-religion propaganda using campus broadcasts, LED display boards, and social media, such as WeChat and QQ platforms.
Other confidential documents issued in other provinces obtained by Bitter Winter also order crackdowns on foreign-related churches in April. These documents list American and South Korean churches active in China, such as American Southern Baptist Mission, the Bethel Church, and the Reformed Presbyterian Church, as key targets. Some decrees mention that China’s intelligence officers overseas should be employed to obtain relevant information on churches.
A house church member told Bitter Winter, “After the Coronavirus outbreak, China’s relations with the Western world deteriorated even more, which has resulted in harsher crackdowns on Christianity in the country.” Under President Xi Jinping, China has grown increasingly suspicious and hostile towards foreign ideologies and religions. Beijing fears that these values and beliefs could threaten the communist regime.