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China: Christians could face ‘re-education’ camps

June 2021 | by Evangelical Times

Zhang Kai, christian lawyer missing in China since 2017.
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Christians in China may find persecution stepping up a pace, with reports warning that they could find themselves in ‘re-education camps’.

Press reports have cited ‘ever-growing evidence of the deteriorating treatment of religious groups in China’, highlighting the treatment of the Uyghur Muslims, who have been taken to camps in Xinjiang, as an example of what is to come.

To date, despite international outcry, Beijing has denied the Uyghurs are in concentration camps, stating these are ‘re-education facilities’.

However, in April, Radio Free Asia reported that authorities in China are detaining Christians in secretive, mobile ‘transformation’ facilities to make them renounce their faith.

According to that report, a member of a Christian ‘house church’ in the southwestern province of Sichuan said he was held in a facility run by the ruling Chinese Communist Party United Front Work Department, working in tandem with the state security police, for 10 months after a raid on his church in 2018.

According to the report, this facility was mobile, in that it could just be set up in some basement somewhere. The interviewee claimed this was staffed by people from several different government departments.

The Chinese government is notoriously secretive, and therefore it is difficult to verify claims. But there does seem to be increasing evidence of the deteriorating treatment of religious groups in China.

For many years, minority group Falun Gong protesters have stood outside the Chinese Embassy in London, claiming their members have been subjected to forced organ harvesting.

Christians are known to have been subject to various methods of persecution. Evangelical Times has previously written about the forced closure of churches and the demolition of church buildings.

Release International has highlighted the story of Chinese Christian lawyer Zhang Kai, who was arrested in August 2015 for defending Chinese churches in the courts against the state.

Although he was understood to have been released on bail in 2016, there is no news about his whereabouts since 2017.

Other Chinese human rights lawyers have similarly been detained and charged in the years since.

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