BY JAMES BEMBRIDGE
With the Pope having signed the ‘Sino-Vatican Agreement’ (a treaty which allows the Vatican to appoint Chinese bishops) one could be forgiven for thinking that Christians in Communist China enjoy a kind of freedom only described in the pluralistic Utopian visions of ‘literal consumerists’ – sorry, communists – like the ridiculous Ash Sarkar. But as with any China counterfeit, this holy bound treaty is merely a tenuous veneer masking a less than holy reality; one begrimed by detentions and a rewriting of holy scripture.
Under the communist regime, the Holy Bible has been subjected to what is often phrased as ‘theological reconstruction’, or to describe it in less flowered language: purging the book of anything thought to threaten the authority of the state. Ninety percent of Chinese Catholics do adhere to this bastardised propaganda, whilst the remaining Catholics, and Christians who are not of Roman Catholic denomination, are somewhat more reticent to indulge in the adulteration of their faith – by an atheistic government, no less.
This defiance was no better exemplified than by Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin. In 2012, Ma was chosen to be a government-approved Bishop of the state-licensed ‘Patriotic Catholic Association’ but on the day of his ordaining, another bishop, illegitimate and not recognised by the state, was brought in by government officials to take part in the ceremony so as to send a message to any other dissenters: resistance is futile, look at how even your best are now yielding to the state.
Or so went the plan.
When the time came for the so-called illegitimate bishop to take part in the sacramental right, in an act of self-sacrifice – no doubt inspired by the legacy of Christ, perhaps read in its true form in a grubby Beijing back alley – Ma rushed to embrace the bishop, thus preventing the man from the immolation of his principles or the fratricide of his congregation.
For this, Ma was placed under house arrest and remains so to this day. Perhaps if the Chinese authorities had thought to read the unabridged version of the Bible, shall we say, then they would have come to realise that the best way to quell a movement isn’t to make a martyr of its leader.
The reality of being a Christian in China is to practice your faith in ‘underground churches’ or ones which are constantly monitored by the state. Many churches have been destroyed by authorities and their clergymen detained indefinitely. Children are not permitted to practice faith and health professionals must sign agreements confirming their rejection of any authority higher than that of President Jinping.
Any desire from world governments to tackle the plight of Chinese Christians, or indeed any human rights abuse in China, is soon jettisoned by veiled threats from Chinese officials, pointing out how this may impact diplomatic relations.
Over the past 40 years, China has seen unprecedented growth, transforming into a global superpower with a GDP only second to the US. There is a line of thinking amongst self-styled globalists that a country’s economic development will bring with it a social one, like that of Western countries. Ironically, it has been China’s ever-growing economic power which has shielded it from calls to adopt Western liberalism.
Perhaps this is why despite pledging to tackle the worldwide persecution of Christians, Boris Johnson seems set to allow Huawei to build our 5G network, ignoring desperate pleas from US advisors of the security threat that such a deal would pose to the UK; it is why Trump has drastically softened his stance in the US China trade negotiations, realising that he needs trade with China more than they need him; and let’s not forget that China’s economic power is the reason why Imran Khan feigns ignorance over the unspeakable acts being committed against Chinese Muslims.
Many Chinese Christians feel betrayed by Pope Francis’ ‘surrender act’ with China and many more in the world, disillusioned. One would hope that his Holiness, when met with stories of the fascistic brutality imposed upon his Christian brethren by Chinese jackboots, may forgo turning the other cheek.
If you wish to support persecuted Christians in China, then one way is to spread awareness by sharing articles like this, another is to donate to the charity Open Doors.