Source: Direct Reports from China
Date: May 18, 2018
Sources from mainland China report that the United Front Work Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, the Ministry of Public Security, and the State Administration for Religious Affairs jointly created the Plan for the Special Campaign on Legal Investigation and Prosecution of South Korean Christian Infiltrations, directed at the house churches established by South Korean Christian groups in China. The plan requires that all authorities on different levels must suppress and crack down on South Korean Christian groups and regularly report their progress. Since April and May, many local governments have begun to carry out this plan.
Bitter Winter has learned that, in early April, based on a document jointly prepared by the Shenyang Committee United Front Work Department, the Shenyang Public Security Bureau, and the Shenyang Bureau of Religious Affairs, a district in Shenyang required that all departments under its jurisdiction must work together and launch a special campaign to implement the plan. This initiative affects the departments of the United Front work, public security, education, civil affairs, commerce, tax, religious affairs, political and legal department, and the stability preservation office.
The campaign aims to resolutely crack down on the major South Korean Christian groups and their evangelical personnel in China. The main goal is to cut off the channels through which these groups come to preach in China, demolish their platform for religious activities in the country, and prevent the major South Korean Christian groups from organizing their Chinese believers to receive religious training in the neighboring countries and other regions of China. The investigation also aims at prosecuting South Korean Christian groups preaching online.
The restricted document also states that the Chinese Communist government would mainly strike in a planned orderly and staged approach against religious groups such as Onnuri Community Church, Youth with a Mission, Korean Intercorp Mission, New Heaven and New Earth Church, Young Disciples of Jesus, Presbyterian Church of Korea, and World Mission.
The first stage, from mid-February to March 17, is to investigate and fully grasp the situation. Officials from villages and towns have already received the notice and an investigation form. Apart from the Christian groups mentioned above, the investigation also targets Jehovah’s Witnesses and Berean Church. The form requires gathering the following information: the name, ID number, and accurate contact information of church director; the church address, number of believers, church’s overseas connections, etc. All Chinese citizens working in South Korea are also the targets of this investigation. Once the information is collected and submitted to the Government, the Chinese public security organs will immediately severely crack down on the key members and ordinary believers of South Korean Christian groups.
The second stage, from March 18 to July 31, is to crack down on these groups in accordance with the law. This document also emphasizes that by following the lead of exemplary cases this task should be carried out one by one, based on the principle of “striking as soon as it matures.”
Bitter Winter has learned that, recently, several staff members from a South Korean Christian group were arrested, one by one, in Northeast China. In April, the plan was also carried out in the city of Wuxi, Jiangsu, and in Minle County, Gansu. In early May, the governments of Anhui’s Lu’an city and Shaanxi’s Huangling town held meetings to carry out the plan.
Bitter Winter plans to report on how religions are allowed, or not allowed, to operate in China and how some are severely persecuted after they are labeled as “xie jiao,” or heterodox teachings. We plan to publish news difficult to find elsewhere, analyses, and debates.
Placed under the editorship of Massimo Introvigne, one of the most well-known scholars of religion internationally, “Bitter Winter” is a cooperative enterprise by scholars, human rights activists, and members of religious organizations persecuted in China (some of them have elected, for obvious reasons, to remain anonymous).