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 »
Zunyou Zhou writes: Thailand’s police have linked the August 17 bomb attack on the Erawan Shrine, a popular tourist attraction in Bangkok, to Uighurs, a largely Muslim ethnic group some of whom have been fleeing Chinese rule. The bombing killed 20 people, including seven Chinese tourists, and injured more than 100 others. Nobody has claimed responsibility for one of the worst terrorist incidents in recent Thai history.
Two men are currently in Thai custody: one is an ethnic Uighur carrying a Chinese passport while the other’s nationality hasn’t been confirmed. Thai police and security analysts have said that the perpetrators may have sought retaliation for Thailand’s forced repatriation to China of more than 100 Uighurs in July or for Bangkok’s crackdown on a human smuggling ring that had transported Uighurs from China to Turkey.
If the Thai allegation proves to be true, the blast would mark a rare spillover of violence related to Uighurs outside China. This attack would add a new dimension to the serious issue of terrorism in China, with significant security implications not only for China but also for Turkey, Thailand and other transit countries in connection with the movement of Uighurs.
Uighurs are a Turkic-speaking minority group who call China’s far-western Xinjiang region home. Overseas-based exile groups and campaigners say that Uighurs face brutal repression in China; Beijing denies any religious or cultural discrimination and maintains that its policies help bring stabilityand prosperity to Xinjiang.
Since 2008, China has faced an increasing number of violent attacks which Beijing has blamed on Uighur separatists connected to overseas terrorist organizations. The violence had typically been confined to Xinjiang until October 2013 when a jeep careened onto the sidewalk near Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, killing two pedestrians and injuring more than 40 others; the three perpetrators set the vehicle on fire, taking their lives.
Several months later, a handful of Uighurs mounted a mass knifing at a train station in the southwestern city of Kunming, leaving at least 29 civilians dead and more than 140 others wounded. Beijing said the perpetrators were separatists who had carried out the attack after they failed to flee China for Southeast Asia. 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)
SHACHE COUNTY, China – The month of Ramadan should have been a time of fasting, charity and prayer in China’s Muslim west. But here, in many of the towns and villages of southern Xinjiang, it was a time of fear, repression, and violence.
“Throughout Ramadan, police intensified a campaign of house-to-house searches, looking for books or clothing that betray “conservative” religious belief among the region’s ethnic Uighurs…”
China’s campaign against separatism and terrorism in its mainly Muslim west has now become an all-out war on conservative Islam, residents here say.
“…women wearing veils were widely detained, and many young men arrested on the slightest pretext, residents say.”
Throughout Ramadan, police intensified a campaign of house-to-house searches, looking for books or clothing that betray “conservative” religious belief among the region’s ethnic Uighurs: women wearing veils were widely detained, and many young men arrested on the slightest pretext, residents say. Students and civil servants were forced to eat instead of fasting, and work or attend classes instead of attending Friday prayers.
The religious repression has bred resentment, and, at times, deadly protests. Reports have emerged of police firing on angry crowds in recent weeks in the towns of Elishku, and Alaqagha; since then, Chinese authorities have imposed a complete blackout on reporting from both locations, even more intense than that already in place across most of Xinjiang.
“Chinese police have cracked down on the wearing of beards and veils, in observance of Ramadan, in Muslim-majority Xinjiang province.”
A Washington Post team was turned away at the one of several checkpoints around Elishku, as army trucks rumbled past, and was subsequently detained for several hours by informers, police and Communist Party officials for reporting from villages in the surrounding district of Shache county; the following day, the team was again detained in Alaqagha in Kuqa county, and ultimately deported from the region from the nearest airport. Read the rest of this entry »
Government continues crackdown over violent incidents blamed on Uighur separatists from Xinjiang region
BEIJING—Chinese state media said on Saturday that eight convicted terrorists were executed in the far western region of Xinjiang, where ethnic conflicts have left dozens of people dead this year.
Among those executed were three men convicted of plotting a deadly assault in the heart of Beijing last year in which the attacker—with his mother and wife as passengers—drove a sport-utility vehicle through crowds, killing themselves and three bystanders, the government-run Tianshan Net news portal said.
The incident was a sign that the ethnic violence was spilling out of the ethnic region of Xinjiang.
The others who were executed were convicted of offenses including police attacks, bomb making, murder and arson, the news portal said.
The report didn’t say when the executions took place.
Xinjiang is home to the Muslim, Turkic minority of Uighurs. Beijing has blamed the ethnic violence on terrorism with overseas ties, but human rights groups say the Uighurs are suffering from repressive policies and practices. Read the rest of this entry »
Victor Zhikai Gao is director of China National Association of International Studies. He was a former employee of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and served as English interpreter for Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s.
For CNN, Victor Gao writes: For many decades, unlike their counterparts in many Western countries, Chinese police did not carry guns. Even the armed police in China, charged mainly with guarding foreign embassies, government buildings and important facilities, would normally only carry unloaded guns, keeping the bullets separate.
A police officer firing a gun was a rarity, because China was a safe country.
Recently, however, a major shift is occurring that is significantly changing the landscape, as China faces its own “war on terror.”
With the war in Afghanistan winding down, there has been an intensification of terrorist attacks in China. Most bear the same tell-tale fingerprints. They originate from China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region, which borders Afghanistan, and are perpetuated by extremists from China’s Uyghur minority, a mainly Turkic-speaking Muslim population.
They aim to indiscriminately kill innocent, unarmed people in public places, demonstrating a complete disregard for human life. Read the rest of this entry »
— WSJ China Real Time (@ChinaRealTime) May 28, 2014
Mourners and volunteers descended on Kunming today after knife-wielding attackers killed 29 people in a frenzied rampage.
“I saw two attackers, both men, one with a watermelon knife and the other with a fruit knife. They were running and chopping whoever they could.”
Distressing photos circulating online showed bodies, pools of blood and abandoned luggage scattered across the terminal floor in the wake of what authorities termed an ‘organised, premeditated, violent terrorist attack’.
More than 130 people were injured in the frenzied attack last night, which has left China shaken
It is a small step towards comprehending the atrocity as officials try to uncover who was behind it
Earlier, volunteers descended on the city’s hospitals in Yunnan province to give blood for the 130 wounded
Today, hospitals were filled with citizens giving blood as dozens remain in a critical state.
Outside, candles were laid in heart shapes as the nation absorbs the shock of the event.
It is believed that more than 10 people took part in the attack. As well as the four who were shot yesterday, one was taken alive. The rest are still being hunted.
KUNMING, China (AP) – More than 10 assailants slashed scores of people with knives at a train station in southern China, drawing police fire, in what authorities called a terrorist assault by ethnic separatists based in the far west, state media said Sunday. Thirty-three people were killed and 130 wounded.
Police fatally shot four of the assailants , arrested one and were searching for the others following the attack late Saturday at the Kunming train station in Yunnan province, the official Xinhua News Agency said. Witnesses described attackers dressed in black storming the train station and attacking people indiscriminately.
Student Qiao Yunao, 16, was waiting to catch a train at the station when people starting crying out and running, and then saw a man slash another man’s neck, drawing blood.
“I was freaking out, and ran to a fast food store, and many people were running in there to take refuge,” she told The Associated Press via Sina Weibo, a Chinese microblog. “I saw two attackers, both men, one with a watermelon knife and the other with a fruit knife. They were running and chopping whoever they could.”
The attackers’ identities were not yet confirmed, but evidence at the scene of the attack showed that it was “a terrorist attack carried out by Xinjiang separatist forces,” Xinhua quoted the municipal government as saying. Authorities considered it to be “an organized, premeditated violent terrorist attack.”
The far western region of Xinjiang is home to a simmering rebellion against Chinese rule by separatists among parts of the Muslim Uighur (pronounced WEE’-gur) population.
Most attacks blamed on Uighur separatists take place in Xinjiang, where clashes between ethnic Uighurs and members of China’s ethnic Han majority are also frequent. Saturday’s assault took place more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) to the southeast in Yunnan, which has not had a history of such unrest.
However, a suicide car attack blamed on Uighur separatists that killed five people at Beijing’s Tiananmen Gate last November raised alarms that militants could be changing tactics and aiming to strike at soft targets throughout the country.
In an indication of how seriously authorities viewed the attack – one of China’s deadliest in recent years – the country’s top police official, Politburo member Meng Jianzhu, arrived in Kunming on Sunday morning and went straight to the hospital to visit the wounded and their families, Xinhua reported.
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.