Christianity is Stigmatized, Feared, and Marginalized, in China as well as in the United States, because the Idea that Rights are God-Given Undermines Government Authority.
SHUITOU, China — Ian Johnson reports: Along the valleys and mountains hugging the East China Sea, a Chinese government campaign to remove crosses from church spires has left the countryside looking as if a typhoon had raged down the coast, decapitating buildings at random.
In the town of Shuitou, workers used blowtorches to cut a 10-foot-high cross off the 120-foot steeple of the Salvation Church. It now lies in the churchyard, wrapped in a red shroud.
About 10 miles to the east, in Mabu township, riot police officers blocked parishioners from entering the grounds of the Dachang Church while workers erected scaffolding and sawed off the cross. In the nearby villages of Ximei, Aojiang, Shanmen and Tengqiao, crosses now lie toppled on rooftops or in yards, or buried like corpses.
On a four-day journey through this lush swath of China’s Zhejiang Province, I spoke with residents who described in new detail the breathtaking scale of an effort to remove Christianity’s most potent symbol from public view. Over the past two years, officials and residents said, the authorities have torn down crosses from 1,200 to 1,700 churches, sometimes after violent clashes with worshipers trying to stop them.
“It’s been very difficult to deal with,” said one church elder in Shuitou, who like others asked for anonymity in fear of retaliation by the authorities. “We can only get on our knees and pray.”
The campaign has been limited to Zhejiang Province, home to one of China’s largest and most vibrant Christian populations. But people familiar with the government’s deliberations say the removal of crosses here has set the stage for a new, nationwide effort to more strictly regulate spiritual life in China, reflecting the tighter control of society favored by President Xi Jinping.
In a major speech on religious policy last month, Mr. Xi urged the ruling Communist Party to “resolutely guard against overseas infiltrations via religious means,” and he warned that religions in China must “Sinicize,” or become Chinese. The instructions reflect the government’s longstanding fear that Christianity could undermine the party’s authority. Many human rights lawyers in China are Christians, and many dissidents have said they are influenced by the idea that rights are God-given.
In recent decades, the party had tolerated a religious renaissance in China, allowing most Chinese to worship as they chose and even encouraging the construction of churches, mosques and temples, despite regular crackdowns on unregistered congregations and banned spiritual groups such as Falun Gong.
Hundreds of millions of people have embraced the nation’s major faiths: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam and Christianity. There are now about 60 million Christians in China. Many attend churches registered with the government, but at least half worship in unregistered churches, often with local authorities looking the other way. Read the rest of this entry »
Chriss W. Street continues:
…China is about to show its third straight quarter of negative real (after inflation) GDP growth. The nation had been relying on a stock market boom to play a “decisive role” in funding the nation’s “Silk Road” reforms to transition to a consumer economy.
But as Breitbart News warned in “China’s Lehman Brothers Weekend Begins,” the “Red Dragon” has suffered a financial collapse equivalent in degree to the U.S. stock crash in 2008-9. Unlike the U.S., which used a formal government bailout to stabilize markets, the Communist Party instructed the nation’s banks to use their own balance sheets to guarantee the current $8 trillion stated value of all of China’s 2800 listed stocks.
As Stratfor’s John Minnich points out, “market capitalization of Chinese stock markets hovered around $1 trillion to $2 trillion” before the recent stock boom. At its peak on June 12, “China’s stock market capitalization, all the markets across the country, was something in the area of $10 trillion to $11 trillion.”
Minnich comments that people before the boom might gamble some of their personal savings into the stock market, but “it wasn’t critical to financing, corporate financing in the Chinese economy. Almost all corporate finances came through the state-owned banks.” Read the rest of this entry »
The upper echelons of Chinese leadership appear to have come face to face with a realization that’s true all the world over: slimming down is hard to do
Felicia Sonmez writes: Quality over quantity. Less is more.
Those have been the watchwords of the Chinese Communist Party ever since its top leaders declared in early 2013 that its membership would be controlled in a bid to improve the organization’s “vigor and vitality.”
Two years later, the upper echelons of Chinese leadership appear to have come face to face with a realization that’s true all the world over: slimming down is hard to do.
In a communique released Tuesday, the Organization Department of the Communist Party’s Central Committee said that the party boasted 87.793 million members as of the end of 2014. The figure – which exceeds the entire population of Germany – represents a net increase of 1.1 million from a year earlier.
China is in the midst of a sweeping anti-graft campaign under President Xi Jinping, with announcements of corrupt officials’ investigation and ouster from the party a near-weekly occurrence. Along with that crackdown has come a steady stream of warnings for party members to rein in behavior ranging from their mahjong playing to the use of terms like “dude” or “boss” when addressing their superiors.
At its heart is the pursuit of the party’s survival. Xi and other top leaders have made a point of reminding cadres that the Chinese Communist Party must avoid the same pitfalls that brought about the demise of the former Soviet Union – particularly disloyalty to Communist ideals – with some Chinese scholars warning that the Soviet collapse came when the ranks of its Communist Party had swollen to an unwieldy 19 million, or nearly 10% of the Soviet Union’s adult population.
The membership of the Chinese Communist Party currently stands at about 7.8% of China’s adult population. Read the rest of this entry »
China is in the midst of a crackdown on what it describes as “terrorism driven by religious extremism”. The campaign is focused on the western province of Xinjiang, home to China’s Uighur ethnic minority who are predominantly Muslim.
The government believes religion breeds terror and has been trying to control religious expression in the region by imposing rules on the Uighur community. Critics say it is exacerbating the terror problem.
They show what the Chinese government deems as acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. They are a striking example of Chinese propaganda and highlight the government’s crude portrayal of ethnic relations in Xinjiang.
Inspirational posters are a fairly common sight in Chinese cities, advocating things like hard work and team spirit. It is not clear who painted these posters, but their presence implies they have some kind of official approval…(read more)
— The Economist (@EconAmericas) May 10, 2014
HONG KONG — The police in Xinjiang, the ethnically divided region in far western China, fatally shot eight people on Friday after what the state-run news media described as an attack by assailants armed with bombs made from gas cylinders. Three other attackers died in an explosion they set off, the reports said.
The official accounts did not identify the bombers, but it was clear that they were Uighurs, a Turkic people who have grown increasingly resentful of the growing numbers of ethnic Han Chinese in the region and of state controls on their culture and Muslim religion. The accounts called the assailants terrorists, as have many previous official reports describing clashes with Uighurs.
A bus stop has been built on the Jiefang South Road where several thousand Han people marched with knives and sticks, seeking revenge on the Uygurs, but were stopped by officers of the People’s Armed Police with tear gas. Elderly women wearing red armbands sat on chairs at the bus stop yesterday, watching passers-by, while squads of armed police patrolled the area.
A Uygur who owns a grocery shop on the Xinhua South Road said his business was affected for several months after the riot in 2009, as the road was the worst-hit part of the city.
“Uygurs would be regarded as terrorists after the July 5 incident, if men wore a beard or women wore a kerchief, a veil or a gown,” he said. “Schools are teaching children not to believe in religion.
“We’re so depressed and feel unable to breathe,” he said. [Source]
The 2009 riots erupted from protests over the deaths of two Uyghur migrant workers in southern China, which ignited a cocktail of existing grievances. At Dissent Magazine, Nick Holdstock examines the triggers of this and earlier incidents, from which he argues authorities have learned the wrong lessons:
Four years later, what are the prospects for further unrest in Xinjiang? In as much as anything in China (or elsewhere) can be said to follow a pattern, there have arguably been broad similarities between the causes of, and responses to, the Urumqi protests and previous ones in Xinjiang.
BEIJING —Andrew Jacobs reports: The Chinese authorities announced on Wednesday the arrests of five people described as Islamic jihadists who they say helped orchestrate an audacious attack near Tiananmen Square, the political heart of the nation, that left five people dead.
In a brief message posted on its microblog account, the Beijing Public Security Bureau said the arrested men, all ethnic Uighurs from China’s western Xinjiang region, had enlisted a family of three to drive a vehicle across a crowded sidewalk on Monday and then ignite the car at the foot of the Tiananmen Gate. Two tourists were killed and 40 people were injured as the vehicle sped toward the entrance to the Forbidden City, just yards from the iconic portrait of Chairman Mao.
The occupants of the car — identified by the police as Usmen Hasan, his wife and his mother, also Uighurs — died as it went up in flames. The police say that in addition to gasoline and a gas canister, investigators recovered from the vehicle two knives, metal clubs and a banner bearing “religious extremist messages.” The police did not disclose the content of those messages.
“This was a violent terrorist act that was carefully planned and organized,” the statement said. Read the rest of this entry »
Nearly all Chinese media outlets have blocked out reports on the incidents and are removing pictures and clips taken from the explosion in Beijing. They don’t want negative reports to deter potential investors and foreigners and affect trade relations. So, if they don’t want a future with daily events like this they better block out muslims from their country. As usual the muslims in China whine about “discrimination”. What does discrimination mean in muslim language? It means that if they don’t have full blown Islam in any country they go to or live in, they ‘feel mistreated’ and demand that the entire society bend and conform to their demands. They take no responsibility of their own behavior but continue with the same aggression and savagery we see everywhere they are.
Only one media outlet (South China Morning Post) dwelled deeper on the investigation: “There were some suggestions that police were looking at suspects from the Uighur community, Muslims from the northwest of China.”
(more) Published: October 29, 2013 | New York Times
BEIJING — The Chinese authorities investigating a deadly episode near Tiananmen Square appeared to be focusing on suspects from Xinjiang, the region in China’s far west that has been the scene of increasingly violent resistance to Beijing’s hard-line policies. Officials increased security at pivotal intersections, subway stations and tourist sites across the capital on Tuesday. But they remained conspicuously silent about an incident that many Chinese believe was a deliberate attack on the political and symbolic heart of the nation.
HONG KONG – The Chinese government has unveiled plans to make at least one film for each of its 55 ethnic minority groups.
The scheme was unveiled Sunday by the State Ethnic Affairs Commission, which said that more than 20 of the country’s ethnic groups had never been properly represented on screen.
The official Xinhua news service said that the first four films would represent the Mongol, Manchu, Dong and Qiang groups.
China has long produced propaganda films through its state-controlled studios, though the films’ popularity has waned in recent years.