China (MNN) — Top official Che Dala defended China’s “training program” in Tibet and warned against overdoing religion. The Chinese Communist Party appointed Che as Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region three years ago, tasking him with economic reform.
During a press briefing yesterday with foreign reporters, Che encouraged Tibetans to follow the CCP’s formula for a “happy life.” Che also warned citizens not to “overdo” religion, Reuters reports:
“As long as they work hard to get rich, listen to the party, follow the party, and get down to doing things, their future will be more beautiful.”
Critics say the Tibet program looks eerily similar to controversial labor camps in Xinjiang that hold thousands of Uyghur Muslims against their will. Voice of the Martyrs USA spokesman Todd Nettleton says China is waging war on every religion – including Christianity.
“Protestant churches are also being told to take down the pictures of Jesus, put up a picture of Chairman Mao [or] put up a picture of President Xi Jinping,” Nettleton says.
“Don’t sing your Christian hymns to start your service; instead, sing patriotic songs about the Communist Party.”
Why does President Xi hate religion?
Gospel growth and Communist control drive the latest crackdowns on Christians. Persecution even extends to children, Christian Post reports.
“[The oppression] is a reflection of the fact that the Church in China has grown dramatically in recent years. It is also a direct reflection of President Xi Jinping’s attitude towards religion and his desire for the Communist Party to exert control,” Nettleton says.
Why can’t religious groups and President Xi’s CCP peacefully coexist? Earlier this month, International Christian Concern’s Meg Midwood observed, “China’s leader, President Xi, is terrified of religion. Religion represents a threat to his authority, a potential Achilles’ heel of the communist infrastructure.”
Nettleton points to Xi’s history as another possible explanation. “Before [Xi] was a national leader, he was a provincial leader, and one of the things he did to ‘make his mark’ in that position was to crack down on the Church,” Nettleton says.
“I think he sees that as part of the way he got this job now as the president, and he has brought that philosophy to the national government.”
An official statement signed by 39 nations raised concerns about China at the U.N. General Assembly last week. U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo urged the Vatican to join diplomatic efforts to hold China accountable for human rights abuses at the end of September.
“This is a very serious issue for our brothers and sisters in China. It’s good to see our U.S. government paying attention to that and speaking in a very public way about it,” Nettleton says of Pompeo’s efforts.
Find your place in the story
Now that you know, how will you respond? Nettleton describes two ways to help persecuted Christians in China. “The first thing is to pray. We need to pray for the Church in China right now, which under intense pressure,” he says.
Use the prompts listed alongside this article to guide your intercession, or visit this page.
“The second thing we can do: make sure our government officials know we want to see them hold the Chinese government [accountable] about religious freedom,” Nettleton continues. Find your representative here.
“As voters in a democracy, they work for us. We need to let them know that this is a priority.”
Header image depicts Chinese President Xi Jinping during a 2015 visit to London. (Photo courtesy of Foreign and Commonwealth Office via Flickr/Creative Commons)