Source: Direct Reports from China
Date: July 3, 2018
Shenyang city’s National Security Bureau closed down the Rehoboth International School accused of religious affiliation and deported three school instructors in March this year. Over ten government departments conducted a joint operation to investigate the school.
The attention to the private school in Liaoning Province was drawn during the National People’s Congress and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, both of which took place at the beginning of the year. A task force including the United Front Work Department, the Bureau of Religious Affairs, the Bureau of Education, the Public Security Bureau, and the Press and Publication Bureau was set up to investigate the school and its foreign instructors.
During the investigation, the principal of the school was asked if the school instructors talked about the Bible and taught students to pray in classes. Officials demanded to know if the school had religious infiltration and foreign contacts, and where the teaching materials were purchased, warning the principal that teaching materials had to be government-approved, otherwise, they were deemed illegal. The principal explained that many students were planning to study abroad, so a portion of their materials were originals purchased abroad. One Communist Party official angrily said that this was “collaborating with the enemy and selling out the country.” He added, “Classes in China must discuss Marxism-Leninism; otherwise, it’s subversion of the socialist regime!”
Three foreign instructors – two from the United States and one from Brazil – underwent investigation and were interviewed, after which all three were expelled from the country. A National Security Bureau official ordered one of the American instructors to “get out of here within 24 hours.”
The school was closed down and forced to stop all classes for two months, suffering severe financial losses. A school employee described that after the closure, it felt like “a dark cloud is pressing down on us. Everyone is in a panic. The CCP government’s religious oppression is the same now as it was during the Cultural Revolution. It just wants to intensely indoctrinate the people and have them focus on the core values of socialism.”
Another one said, “Xi Jinping promotes Marxism-Leninism and says that the socialist system is the most advanced in the world. Authorities are afraid that foreign instructors will bring with them the spirit of other countries’ freedom of belief and universal love and that the common people will uphold these things, then no one will believe in the Party anymore.”
Since the new Regulations on Religious Affairs came into force on February 1, 2018, foreign missionaries in mainland China have been suffering persecution and have been expelled from the country to restrict the dissemination of religious freedom in China. Some of the schools who hired foreign instructors have also become major targets of the Chinese Communist Party government.