China's Religious Freedom: A Maoist Shackle to Religion on Pretext of National Security?

May 25, 2016 12:03 PM EDT

Government persecution of Christians in China has increased sevenfold since 2008 affirming China's ambition to take control of all religious organizations, a Texas-based charity institution China Aid reported.

It said more Christians have been harassed, beaten and a message that the Maoist government is "dead serious" about its policy that all religious organizations must submit to the leadership of the Communist Party.

The crackdown is focused in Zhejiang province, where over 20 church buildings were torn down and 1,300 crosses removed. Throughout the crackdown, over 500 Christians including 28 pastors were arrested and charged, and another 130 injured

This report emboldens the US Commission on International Religious Freedom's listing of China as the top-tier violator to freedom of religion, along with eight other countries that include Myanmar, Iran, North Korea and Saudi Arabia.

The US Commission reported that a systematic egregious and ongoing abuses in China against Christians, Buddhists, Muslims and other sectarian groups are prevalent.

China has lodged a diplomatic protest with the United States in response to the report. 

But its pessimism towards religion was also indicated by President Xi Jinping when he urged for his country's vigilance against foreign infiltration through religion, firmly warning that religion should never interfere with the affair of the state.

Release International, a partner charity of China Aid, has the same insights about the persecutions against Christians, and has urged Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom to use Britain's relationship with Xi to push for religious freedom in China.

"In all conscience, Britain cannot put trade before human rights," said Paul Robinson, a spokesman for the charity, referring to the new trade agreement between China and UK.

It also urges Christians in the UK to stand in solidarity with "our Chinese brothers and sisters, and those in other nations where churches have been demolished."