|Photo Courtesy: ChinaAid|
MIDLAND, Texas, Feb. 4, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ -- Government persecution of Christians and churches in mainland China deteriorated for the seventh straight year, ChinaAid said Monday in its annual report, with the defining characteristic of 2012's persecution being the government's stated intention of eradicating house churches.
Based on information collected by ChinaAid in 2012 on 132 persecution cases involving 4,919 people, the number of people sentenced jumped 125% over the previous year and the incidences of persecution rose 41.9% from 2011.
ChinaAid cited a secret document issued in September 2011 as the reason for the focus in 2012 on eradicating house churches. Four different measures were used: Forcibly banning and sealing up churches, pressuring churches to join the official "Three-Self" church system, detaining church leaders and sending them to labor camps on the pretext of "suspicion of organizing and using a cult to undermine law enforcement," and strictly restricting the spread of the Christian faith among students.
The report, however, concludes with an upbeat tone, noting that the political scandal late last year that saw the ouster of rising political star Bo Xilai and the leadership handover at the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party that ushered out the Hu Jintao-Wen Jiabao government ended their era of ultra-leftist ideology.
"ChinaAid is cautiously optimistic," the report said, pointing out that despite the escalating persecution and the political upheaval of 2012 "the church ... is still standing firm, flourishing like the cedars of Lebanon and fruit trees planted by the streams, bearing much fruit at the appointed time."
For the full text of the report including diagrams click here.