China (MNN) — Christians remain one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world. David Curry of Open Doors USA says China rose significantly on the recently-released World Watch List. More about the 2020 World Watch List here.
“Over the last 24 months, [China] jumped almost 20 spots,” Curry says.
“That’s due to the consolidation of power from President Xi and his desire to go back to what I call the Soviet mindset of government, [or] government as God.”
China uses technology to target faith groups
Oppression in China is sophisticated and tech-savvy, Open Doors reports. The Communist government uses widespread surveillance and artificial intelligence (AI) to target Christians and other faith groups.
“They are using surveillance technology and artificial intelligence in a way that no country ever has before. It really, I think, does not bode well for the future,” Curry says.
Surveillance and AI allow Chinese officials to monitor citizens’ activity, he explains. By watching who goes to church and how often they attend services, authorities can determine citizens’ loyalty to the Communist cause.
Anyone found “lacking” could be given a poor social score. “They have a score for every citizen on how well you are in alignment with the Soviet system… it’s a way to efficiently oppress people,” Curry explains.
“This is why we’re raising a red flag on China,” he adds.
“The UN and other international bodies need to have a very serious conversation about how facial recognition is going to be used to or could be used over religious minorities, whether they be Jews or Christians or anybody else, [and] what this means for the future.”
Worse yet, Curry says, China’s looking to export its techniques.
“We know that China wants to sell these technologies to Iran and other countries that may want to use it in negative ways. I think we [need to] pray for people to wake up to the implications of this.”
Additionally, Chinese pastors are being asked more often to register with the government. If they refuse, they risk church closure and arrest. More than 5,500 churches in China have been closed down, and churches in at least 23 provinces have been harassed or shuttered.
How to help
Now that you know, what will you do? Surround this situation in prayer, Curry requests, and find tangible ways to help persecuted Chinese Christians through Open Doors USA.
“In countries where there is oppression, people are speaking out courageously, but often you won’t hear from them again. So, we need to pray for these people who are speaking out for the right to worship Jesus, to read a Bible, to attend church,” Curry says.
Pray with Chinese Christians and church leaders for the fortitude to withstand increasing pressure and violent acts of persecution. Find more prayer needs here.
Header image is a stock photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash.