Christians are living a "nightmare" in China as President Xi Jinping continues to tighten restrictions on believers, a congressional commission report says.
Upon releasing the 2018 Annual Report of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), U.S. Representative and commission co-chair Chris Smith said Jinping's efforts to "Sinicize" religion into a government-controlled framework has made life extremely difficult for Christians in the country.
"If you don't comport with the Communist Party principle about everything you do to the ideology of Xi Jinping, you are going to be arrested, you are going to be tortured, and in many cases you are going to be killed," Smith said, according to Baptist Press.
"When Bibles are burned and Tibetan monks burned themselves in protests, when a simple prayer over a meal in public may be considered illegal religious gathering, when mosques and churches are demolished in Uyghur and Kazakh Muslims are forced to denounce their faith," Smith said, "the China dream is a nightmare for millions upon millions of Chinese citizens."
The 405-page report covering a one-year span ending in September documents "unprecedented repression of ethnic minorities" in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, "dramatic increases" in Communist Party control of government, society and business, and the increased use of technology as a repression tool.
Also included in the report are a political prisoner database, political prisoners of particular concern and recommendations for the Trump administration and the United Nations, BP reports.
Under Jinping, China is more aggressive at home and abroad, the CECC said in summarizing its findings.
"We see an ascendant and increasingly aggressive China, seeking to take center stage in the world, and in so doing, determined to shape new global norms on development, trade, the internet, and even human rights," the CECC said. "All the while, the fundamental authoritarian character of China's political system remains the same."
The commission recommended advocating publicly and clearly for political prisoners, including the appointment of a special adviser for religious and political prisoners to coordinate interagency efforts on prisoners' behalf.
It also urged leaders to pressure China to "guarantee to all citizens freedom of religion in accordance with its international human rights obligations, enforcing sanctions against individuals guilty of oppressive acts."
Finally, the commission called on China to end its population control policies including forced abortions, decades of which "have exacerbated China's demographic challenges, which include a rapidly aging population, shrinking workforce, and sex ratio imbalance."
China is ranked 39th on Open Door USA's World Watch List of 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
Authorities believe Christianity, whose followers are said to rival in number the 85 million members of the Communist Party, "poses a major threat" to its long-term stability.