ChinaAid Releases Annual Report of Chinese Government Persecution of Christians & Churches in Mainland China in 2011

2011 Annual Report: Chinese Government Persecution of Christians & Churches in Mainland China
February 1, 2011

Preface: Nehemiah 6:9 & Photos of 2011’s Major News Events

I. Summary and Analysis of Government Persecution of Christians and Churches in Mainland China in 2011

II. Chart: Cases of Persecution of Government Christians and Churches in Mainland China in 2011

III. Diagrams Illustrating Government Persecution of Christians and Churches in Mainland China in 2011

Conclusion: “Beijing Terrorism” Cannot Defeat Christ’s Church


“They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, ‘Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.’ [But I prayed], ‘Now strengthen my hands.’”

Nehemiah 6:9

On April 10, 2011, the first day that Beijing Shouwang Church held its Sunday worship service outdoors, more than 160 church members were taken into police custody. This Reuters file photo shows police herding onto buses church members detained at the church’s designated outdoor worship site.

(A PDF of the full report is available here:

Authorities in Linfen, Shanxi province, prohibited the Linfen church from celebrating Christmas. This photo, provided by overseas Chinese Christians Jenny Chen and Li Fei, shows police vehicles and an armored personnel carrier guarding the road outside the Jindeng Church. Chen was later kidnapped by Tianjin Domestic Security Protection agents and beaten.

I. Summary and Analysis of Government Persecution of Christians and Churches
in Mainland China in 2011

The Year of “Beijing Terrorism” and of the Church Shining Bright

Government persecution of Christians and churches in China worsened significantly in 2011. In comparing the total number of persecution cases, the number of people persecuted, the number detained, the number sentenced, the number of abuse cases and the number of people abused with the same figures for 2010, the total of all six categories showed a jump of 42.5% over the previous year. Compared with the statistics in ChinaAid’s past annual reports, this trend of worsening persecution has persisted for the past six years, with an average annual increase of 33.1% in the total of all six categories of persecution statistics tracked by ChinaAid.

1. Comprehensive Analysis of the Main Characteristic of and Reason Behind 2011 Persecution: To Curb the Influence of Christianity on Society

In addition to continuing the 2008 and 2009 practice of “targeting house church leaders and churches in urban areas” and 2010’s “attacking Christian human rights lawyers groups and using abuse, torture and mafia tactics,” the focus of the persecution in 2011 was on increasing the intensity of attacks against Christians and house churches with societal impact.

In December 2010, the Communist Party Central Committee’s Public Security Commission issued a secret document to target China’s house churches in the implementation of its special suppression campaign “Operation Deterrence.” The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in an April 20, 2011 statement said, “In a February 2011 speech, Wang Zu’on [sic – correct spelling is Zuo’an], head of China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA), called on government officials to renew efforts to ‘guide’ unregistered Protestants to worship in state-sanctioned churches and ‘break’ large churches like Shouwang into small groups. He also outlined efforts to further deny Chinese Catholics the freedom to make bishop appointments with the Vatican’s approval, require Muslims to pass political tests to go on pilgrimages, and better manage Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and unregistered shrines.” (

Looking back at the situation in 2011 reveals that the persecution inflicted on churches as a whole and the deterioration of religious freedom overall in China resulted from the strict implementation of Wang Zuo’an’s guidelines, which were undoubtedly the policy decision of the Communist Party Central Committee. The effect of this policy-making decision was to suppress the ever-expanding influence on Chinese society of religion, especially of Christianity.

Two major cases are representative of the 2011 practice of targeting influential house churches for persecution: the large-scale suppression of Beijing Shouwang Church for 38 continuous weeks, and the continued strict surveillance and suppression of the Linfen church in Shanxi province since it was banned in 2009.

Targeting Churches with Societal Influence: In the 38 weeks beginning on April 20 and continuing through Dec. 25, there were more than 1,000 detentions of members of Beijing Shouwang Church. Several hundred other church members were placed under house arrest by the police and Domestic Security Protection agents. During this time, some believers were verbally and physically abused while in detention, and some lost their jobs or were evicted due to government pressure on their employers and landlords. The church’s pastors and elders were confined under house arrest the entire time and deprived of their liberty.

The church in Linfen, Shanxi province is still being suppressed and under strict surveillance today. From September to November 2009, some 5,000 Christians from the church in Linfen were persecuted by the government, including more than 100 who suffered injuries from beatings and 10 church leaders who were sentenced to prison terms ranging from two to seven years. Subsequently, the government continued to persecute the Christians from this church, strictly prohibiting the church from resuming its activities. During the 2011 Christmas season, large numbers of police vehicles, and even at least one armored personnel carrier, were mobilized to seal off the church’s main meeting point, Jindeng (Golden Lampstand) Church.

Special mention needs to be made of the fact that, when an overseas Chinese Christian from Canada, Jenny Chen, and her daughter made a special trip to China during the Christmas season to visit with the brothers and sisters of Beijing Shouwang Church and the Linfen church in Shanxi, they were followed and threatened by Domestic Security Protection agents. In January 2012, Ms. Chen was abducted by Tianjian Domestic Security Protection agents and secretly interrogated and beaten. (See and

There were also some more typical cases. They include the detention of 11 house church leaders and Christians in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa in or around October 2011. They were held for nearly a month before being released at different times. During that time, some other Christians were verbally abused and beaten and had some 2,000 copies of the Bible in Tibetan confiscated. This case of persecution also was due to the growing societal influence in Tibet of Christians and the church. In September 2011, Mengfu (Blessed) Student Fellowship in Ulanqab, Inner Mongolia, was banned and its leader detained and fined. His crime was evangelizing students.

Targeting Christians with Societal Influence: The Chinese government’s suppression in 2011 of Christians with societal influence actually began in December 2010 with the persecution of Dr. Fan Yafeng and Yu Jie. Fan Yafeng is a well-known scholar of constitutional law, a church leader and a leading activist in the citizens’ rights protection movement; Yu Jie is a well-known Christian writer and public intellectual. After putting Yu Jie under house arrest for more than a year, the government in January 2012 allowed him and his wife and their young son to leave for the United States. Fan Yafeng, his wife and their young son remain under house arrest to this day, with Domestic Security Protection agents standing guard round-the-clock at the door of their apartment.

In 2011, some other Christians with societal influence were also persecuted in various ways. The Uyghur house church leader Alimujiang in Xinjiang has now served four years in prison, and in February 2011, his appeal was rejected and his original 15-year sentence was upheld; the vice-president of the Chinese House Church Alliance, Shi Enhao, was sentenced in July 2011 to two years of re-education through labor. Many well-known Christian human rights lawyers were persecuted: Jiang Tianyong and Li Fangping in Beijing and Guangzhou’s Tang Jingling all were abducted and tortured by the government; Beijing human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, after being abducted by the authorities and “disappeared” for 20 months, was sent to a remote prison in the far western region of Xinjiang to serve a three-year prison sentence. Some well-known Christian lawyers and political dissidents also were punished: Chen Wei from Sichuan province and Chen Xi from Guizhou province were sentenced to nine- and 10-year prison terms, respectively; Zhu Yufu from Zhejiang province is still in jail awaiting the result of his trial nearly a year after his arrest. Beijing’s Ni Yulan and her husband, Dong Jiqin, are in jail awaiting trial and sentencing. A well-known Christian in the film and visual arts, Jiang Yaxi, is also in prison awaiting trial. For other similar cases, see our top 10 list of 2011’s persecution cases:

Against the backdrop of China’s dark political and cultural environment, it is inevitable that the rapid growth of the church would create “a city on a hill—a light in society” effect, giving the Chinese people great hope and the powerful force of transformed lives. This kind of positive influence clearly has had the effect of putting the Communist ideology under attack, which is exactly what those defenders of totalitarianism fear and is why they so ruthlessly engage in harsh repression and splitting and dividing. This is the attitude and the policy taken by the ultra-leftist political ideologues represented by the Hu Jintao government toward Christianity and all religions that have a powerful influence on society.

2. Statistical and schematic analysis of the overall persecution of Christians and churches in 2010

Government persecution of Christians and churches and in China worsened significantly in 2011 as compared with 2010. The total of six categories of persecution statistics tracked by ChinaAid (number of persecution cases, number of people persecuted, number detained, number sentenced, the number of abuse cases and the number of people abused) showed a jump of 42.5% over 2010. It should be noted that the information collected by ChinaAid about persecution cases in China is but the tip of the iceberg. Be that as it may, these cases come from most of the provinces and municipalities across China are diverse and affected urban and rural house churches, Three-Self churches, Catholic churches, as well as individual Christians, including clergy, human rights lawyers, political dissidents and artists. Taken together, they are sufficient to reflect the overall situation and severity of the persecution suffered by churches and Christians in 2011.

In 2011, ChinaAid collected information on 93 cases of persecution across the country, up 3.3% from 2010. The 4,322 people who were persecuted (337 of whom were clergy) represented a 29.3% increase over the previous year. The 1,289 people who were detained (267 of whom were clergy) was an increase of 131.8% over the previous year. Four people were sentenced, a 33.3% drop over the previous year. There were 24 cases of abuse (beating and verbal abuse, torture, and physical and mental abuse), an increase of 33.3% over the previous year. Seventy-six people were abused, up 20.6% over the previous year.

Comparing the data in the above six categories – total number of persecution cases, total number of people persecuted, number of people arrested, number of people sentenced, total number of abuse cases, and total number of people abused – the overall situation of persecution can be statistically represented as being 42.5% worse than in 2010, 63.7% worse than in 2009, 95% worse than in 2008, 261% worse than in 2007 and 318.1% worse than in 2006. Please see the graph below.

Having reported on the overall situation of church persecution in mainland China and the five main characteristics of the persecution, the rest of this report will examine the situation in 2011 in greater detail through case studies, statistical analysis and diagrams.

II. Chart: Cases of Persecution of Government Christians and Churches in Mainland China in 2011
(A PDF of the full report, including this chart, is available here.)

III. Diagrams Illustrating Government Persecution of Christians and Churches in Mainland China in 2011
(A PDF of the full report, including these diagrams, is available here.)

Conclusion: Beijing Terrorism Cannot Defeat Christ’s Church

In the year just ended, China’s Communist regime has succeeded in creating an atmosphere of terror among the Chinese people―throughout the country but particularly in Beijing―by skirting the nation’s judicial system to punish its own citizens, in violation of the nation’s laws, through abduction, forced disappearance, torture, abuse, mentally and physically destructive abuse, treating family members as guilty-by-association, etc. In 2011, more than 100 influential lawyers and human rights activists―both Christians and non-Christians―were “disappeared,” tortured, put under surveillance or sentenced. The number of people who were threatened by or forced “to drink tea” with police or Domestic Security Protection agents exceeded 1,000.

In 2011, Christians and churches in Beijing experienced wide-ranging persecution, accounting for a large proportion of the persecution nationwide and throughout the year. Across the country, many Christians and churches were forced, after they had been terrorized by the persecution, to keep quiet; they were too afraid to say anything openly about their suffering. That’s why ChinaAid has not reported some of the cases it has collected information about, or delayed in reporting some cases.

This kind of “Beijing terrorism” persecution is carried out in two main ways: torture and guilt-by-association. These measures were first used on human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng and became standard procedure starting with the treatment of Dr. Fan Yafeng, a leader in the rights defense movement.

The methods of torture that have been used so far have been varied, but all are aimed at destroying a person’s body, will and spirit. One frequently used method is repeated blows to the head. This kind of violent abuse designed to destroy a person’s spirit has been used on Gao Zhisheng, Fan Yafeng, Yu Jie, Jiang Tianyong and the overseas Chinese woman Jenny Chen from Canada, as well as others. In the Chinese cultural context, beating a person in the head is an extreme form of insult; to a man, it is no less mortifying than a sexual assault is to a woman.

Guilt-by-association is another form of “Beijing terrorism.” Starting with Gao Zhisheng, nearly all the families associated with those persecuted churches or Christians with societal influence have without fail been punished or threatened to varying degrees. Commonly used methods include: house arrest, being followed, threats, surveillance, insults, harassment, beatings, and putting pressure on adults through their workplaces or on students and children through their schools. Victims of this form of persecution include Gao Zhisheng’s wife and children, Fan Yafeng’s wife and child, Jiang Tianyong’s wife and child, Tang Jingling’s wife and mother, Shi Enhao’s children, and ChinaAid spokesman Mark Shan’s brother, Randy C. Shan, who lives in China.

Torture and guilt-by-association have a long history in China. After Deng Xiaoping, who suffered greatly from these methods during the Mao era, took power in the late 1970s, he was partially successful in doing away with the evil tradition of guilt-by-association. In the past five years, however, the Hu Jintao government has resumed the rampant use of torture and guilt-by-association. Once this Pandora’s box in Chinese culture is opened, it will be difficult to close, and will become a vicious cycle.

The existence of “Beijing Terrorism” is not just because of the Hu Jintao government’s pursuit of ultra-leftist ideology and governance that undermines the rule of law, it also is related to the weak attitude taken by the Western world. Through its treatment of Gao Zhisheng, Liu Xiaobo, Fan Yafeng, Teng Biao, Chen Guangcheng, and Uyghur Christian Alimujiang, the Beijing regime was using these typical cases to test just how weak the response might be from the Western world, especially the United States, when the human rights of the Chinese people, including the minority groups, are trampled upon. As a result, Beijing is becoming ever more emboldened in its internal repression and external “money diplomacy.”

These embarrassing facts are not only China’s sorrow, they are also evidence of the failure of the power of world justice. The failure of international efforts to bring about justice is not necessarily because Communist China today is stronger and more powerful than Germany and Japan were during World War II or the Soviet Union was during the Cold War. Rather, it is because the international community—in particular the Western world—is no longer staunchly guarding and holding fast to the concepts of freedom, justice and human rights as it once had. The result is fear when noble sacrifice is necessary and retreat when a price must be paid. Added to which is the lure of money and personal interests. All of these factors corrupt the spirit and dissipate courage, spreading ever wider―just like the current economic crisis.

In this unsettling situation, however, there is reason for hope. And that is in the fact that the church in China, in defending and fighting for its rights strictly for faith reasons, is doing so in a non-violent, law-abiding way. And the effect this has had on society, politics, culture and ethics is further reason for hope. This has demonstrated that China’s house churches have become the backbone of efforts to promote freedom of religion, human rights and the rule of law and is the cornerstone for the development of a civil society in China.

ChinaAid founder and president Bob Fu said, “House churches in China which are committed to the sole headship of Christ in the church and to evangelism must operate as illegal groups conducting so-called ‘illegal religious activities,’ and consequently must be ready to suffer the administrative penalties inflicted by the state.”

Indeed! China’s Christians need not place their hopes on any government or any organization, but rather, they rely entirely on the head of church alone―the Lord Jesus Christ―and remain faithful to this great God. Over the past 60 years of bloody punishment by the state, the church in China has steadily grown and matured. Is this not the most powerful testimony to the work of the Holy Spirit? So let us boast in the Lord Jehovah, and in this way answer those who persecute and ridicule us.

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us–yes, establish the work of our hands.”

Psalm 90: 17
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A PDF of the full report is available here:

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