In the past few years, the Chinese government has exerted pressure on the foreign missionaries evangelizing in China. According to the Christian Human Rights Organization, there are only some 200 Korean missionaries who remain in China, and who are currently in preparation to leave China under pressure from the local authorities.
As early as last year, the Chinese official media “Global Times” as well as many regional media groups have reported that from 2011 to May of 2012, the Chinese government deported some 500 Korean missionaries in the name of attacking illegal immigrants, illegal residents, and illegal workers (simply known as “the three illegal’s”).
The Chinese government’s attack against foreign missionaries still did not stop. According to the information obtained by the ChinaAid Association, starting from 2012, China had initiated a secret investigation of some 300 remaining Korean missionaries, until around 100 Korean missionaries had been deported or forced to leave, while the remaining 200 were in preparation to leave in order to escape their fate.
Apparently, Korean missionaries are mainland China’s most populous group of foreign missionaries. Besides engaging in evangelizing, they also evangelize through education and businesses. Considering their own gains, some regional governments exhibit a certain level of tolerance for these foreign missionaries who minister through work.
However, the central Chinese government from time to time holds large-scale suppression activities to attack these residential foreign missionaries. Apart from “the three illegal’s” in 2011, the Human Rights Organization was revealed to be involved in the secret activity of “Typhoon No. 5” initiated 6 years ago, which widely forced out hundreds of foreign missionaries.
To many foreign missionaries who evangelize through work, the Chinese officials have been long forewarned. As the ChinaAid Association pointed out, in two secretly issued documents by Chinese officials, one of them involved “opinions on defense against foreigners’ use of religion to invade into high schools and against evangelization within school grounds”.
The ChinaAid Association recently disclosed an example of foreign missionaries being persecuted within Chinese school grounds. On February 20th, a college student mission conference held in Jimo City of the Shandong Province was banned by the police. Attendees including an American Chinese and two Korean missionaries are still in custody, their passports having been confiscated, awaiting further actions which can possibly include deportation.
The Chinese officials have always advocated for House Churches being included in the Three-Self Church system. They simultaneously invite foreign missionaries to serve in China through legal means (Three-Self Church channels) to engage in Christian activities in China.
However, the Three-Self Church system is governed by the government, and the limitations and doctrines of religious freedom of which are vastly different from those of Western countries. Besides, because of the unique national condition and political system, the persecution of local Church leaders and followers will often occur under the Three-Self Church system. Even if foreign missionaries go through the Three-Self channel to serve in China, there is no guarantee for absolute freedom and safety.
[Editor's note: Carol Lee translated the article.]