To implement direct orders from President Xi Jinping, the Jiangsu provincial government started in July a new targeted campaign in five cities.
by Yang Guang’an
Multiple internal CCP documents that Bitter Winter recently obtained confirm that the government of the eastern province of Jiangsu has started a new round of coordinated, six-month-long crackdown on the Christian faith. Launched in July, the operation concentrates on shutting down house churches and state-approved Three-Self churches alike.
According to the documents, this new operation can be traced to a neican – an internal reference report of limited circulation for the highest ranks of government –with Xi Jinping’s instructions on the issue of Christianity in northern cities of Jiangsu, distributed by China’s official Xinhua News Agency on June 2.
The sensitivity and depth of neican reports far exceed the publicly available information on Xinhua: most are classified as state secrets and are made available only to government officials at appropriate levels. Based on a neican, leaders of relevant institutions and levels of governance then issue instructions as to their implementation to subordinate authorities.
Jiangsu’s provincial government and Party committee, attaching great importance to Xi’s instructions, launched a crackdown in five prefecture-level cities in the north of the province where about 80 percent of province’s Christians reside: Xuzhou, Lianyungang, Suqian, Huai’an, and Yancheng.
Seeking to avoid attention and criticism from the international community and reduce the discontent from local Christians, the government has spent a few months preparing the new operation.
As per The Special Governance Work Plan on the Issue of Christianity in the Five Cities of Northern Jiangsu, issued by the provincial United Front Work Department on August 2, the investigative research and planning stages of the new operation were set for July and August. August and September were dedicated to propaganda development, as well as mobilization and deployment of personnel. The implementation of the operation was foreseen for October and November. To prevent any crackdown-related incidents on the National Day, celebrated on October 1, concentrated rectification activities were postponed to later October. The month of December will be dedicated to post-implementation management activities.
According to the document, the main objectives of the crackdown are “two reductions, two normalizations, and two fortifications,” meaning that the number of religious meeting venues and believers should be reduced, private meeting venues eliminated and crosses removed, and the management of the clergy and believers strengthened.
According to sources, relevant government departments were set quotas for eliminating meeting venues and reducing the number of believers.