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The ‘threat’ of Christianity in China

International | Chinese government tells believers to put their faith in socialism
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 3/19/19, 05:06 pm

A Chinese government religious official last week accused the West of using Christianity to weaken the country’s political power and called for obedience to a socialist interpretation of the religion.

Xu Xiaohong, head of the official Movement of Protestant Churches in China, said Western influence and private meeting places plague Christianity in the country, adding that people who try to subvert national security under the guise of Christianity will face justice.

“Anti-China forces in the West are trying to continue to influence China’s social stability and even subvert our country’s political power through Christianity, and it is doomed to fail,” he said during a speech at the People’s Political Consultative Conference. “Only by continuously carrying forward and practicing the core values of socialism can our Christianity truly be suited to socialist society.”

The Chinese Constitution officially recognizes religious freedom, but President Xi Jinping’s government has led a crackdown on religious groups it views as a threat to the Communist Party. China’s plan to influence Christianity includes rewriting the New Testament based on Buddhist and Confucian teachings.

Since the December arrests of leaders and members of Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, authorities continue to harass and detain worshippers. In central Henan province, security officials forcibly demolished crosses on more than 4,500 church buildings over the past year, according to China Aid. “Nowadays, many house churches conduct irregular services for the sake of avoiding the surveillance of local officials,” one Chinese Christian said.

In a stern speech during a recent visit to Hong Kong, U.S. Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback called on China to respect the “sacred right” of worship. He also condemned the country’s treatment of Muslims at internment camps in the western Xinjiang region. The U.S. State Department said it is considering “targeted measures” against those responsible for the abuse.

“The Chinese Communist Party must hear the cries of its own people for religious freedom and act to correct its wrong,” Brownback said. “It is a war they will not win.”

The Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry rejected Brownback’s comments as full of “prejudice and hostility.”

Brynne Lawrence, the English editor with ChinaAid, told me increased pressure from the United States could influence China’s actions. “China likes to look good to the outside world,” she said. “One of the most effective means we have seen is other countries putting pressure on China to stop the abuses there.”

Associated Press/Photo by Qatar Ministry of Foreign Affairs Associated Press/Photo by Qatar Ministry of Foreign Affairs A Feb. 25 meeting between the United States and the Taliban in an undisclosed location in Doha, Qatar

Piecemeal peace process

The United States and the Taliban last week ended their longest direct negotiations yet for peace in Afghanistan with both sides reporting progress. At the end of the 13-day meeting in Qatar, the U.S. envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said the two sides compromised on draft agreements over a “withdrawal timeline and effective counterterrorism measures.” The measures require the Taliban to break ties with and not harbor other groups designated as terrorists.

“It’s clear all sides want to end the war,” Khalilzad said. “Despite ups and downs, we kept things on track and made real strides.”

The Taliban also confirmed some progress, but noted it did not agree to a cease-fire. The group also remains unwilling to speak with the government in Afghanistan, which it views as a U.S. puppet. Afghan officials remain upset over their exclusion from the peace efforts.

It is not clear when the next talks will begin, but the Taliban has the upper hand. The United States is desperate to start pulling out some of its 14,000 troops from the country after 17 years of war. The insurgent group also continues targeted attacks against security forces in Afghanistan.

“What we’re getting is a deal that doesn’t end in peace” Hamdullah Mohib, the Afghan national security adviser, told The New York Times. —O.O

Associated Press/Photo by Maya Alleruzzo Associated Press/Photo by Maya Alleruzzo Women, children, and an injured man leaving the besieged village of Baghuz, Syria, on Thursday

Caring for the children of ISIS

More than a thousand ISIS fighters and their families surrendered last week, as Syrian and Kurdish forces besieged one of the terror group’s strongholds in Syria. Now other countries must make difficult repatriation decisions, especially regarding the families of ISIS fighters.

The British government faced outrage this month after 19-year-old ISIS bride Shamima Begum’s newborn baby died in a Syrian refugee camp, The Guardian reported. Britain revoked Begum’s citizenship this year and refused to allow her to return.

France repatriated five young orphans of ISIS fighters but said it would evaluate children with living parents on a case-by-case basis, according to The Guardian. A repatriation order is before a court in Belgium, according to Radio Free Europe.

Meanwhile, Tajikistan announced it will try to repatriate all Tajikistani children from Iraq and Syria.

“We’re planning to bring them home,” Tajikistan Ambassador to Iraq and Kuwait Zubaidullo Zubaidzoda told Radio Free Europe. In 2015, the country offered amnesty to fighters willing to return and renounce violence. —Julia A. Seymour

Herdsmen target northwest Nigerian community

Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria’s northwestern Kaduna state are suspected of staging multiple attacks that killed at least 120 people since February in the predominantly Christian area, Christian Solidarity Worldwide reported last week.

During attacks on two villages in the state’s Kajuru local government area on March 11, militants killed 52 people and destroyed about 100 homes. Another attack a day earlier left 17 people dead in another village. At least four other similar raids occurred in the same area.

The majority of the violence followed a televised statement by Gov. Nasir el-Rufai, who claimed that more than 66 Fulanis died in an attack targeting the group. The National Emergency Management Authority disputed the casualty report.

In a statement on March 12, the local Adara Development Association condemned the violence, saying its community is “gripped by a fully funded and supported group of terrorists that have been wreaking havoc in our land for long, while those saddled with the responsibility of securing us deliberately looked the other way.” —O.O.

American sentenced in Iran

Iran has sentenced U.S. Navy veteran Michael White to 10 years in prison in the first conviction of an American in the country since President Donald Trump took office, White’s lawyer confirmed over the weekend. The 46-year-old faced two charges, including insulting the country’s top leader and posting a private photo publicly, according to his lawyer, Mark Zaid.

The motive behind his arrest and sentence remains unclear. White, a California native, traveled to Iran to visit his girlfriend and never returned. His mother, Joanne White, said she filed a missing persons report and found out about his arrest from U.S. State Department officials in January. His case further complicates relations between the United States and Iran, which worsened after Trump withdrew from a global nuclear pact and reimposed sanctions on the country. —O.O.

Onize Ohikere

Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.

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  • AlanE
    Posted: Tue, 03/26/2019 03:24 pm

    Each time I hear of a state recognizing the church as a threat, I understand the hand of God is at work in that church. We must be praying for the Chinese believers.