80% Of Chinese Students Who Convert To Christianity Abroad Give Up Faith Once They're Back Home

Christians attend Sunday service at Shouwang Church in Beijing.Reuters

Christians abroad, non-Christians at home.

That is the case for an increasing number of Chinese students who converted to Christianity while studying overseas but who give up their faith once they're back home in China, Foreign Policy reported.

The news outlet blamed this on Chinese authorities' hostile treatment of Christians.

Tens of thousands of Chinese students educated in English-speaking countries abroad and who converted to Christianity have been returning to China every year since 2010, the report stated.

However, once back home, 80 percent of these Christian converts stop attending church service, according to informed sources.

"When Chinese converts return home, they often find it difficult to select a church where they feel comfortable," the report said, noting that in China public proselytising is severely curtailed and church networks are isolated.

Chinese culture also poses a roadblock for the Christian converts. For instance, former University of Nottingham student Jason Fu told Foreign Policy that balancing his work and faith is incredibly difficult now that he is a teacher at a university in Nanjing.

"Theoretically, we should prioritise God over everything else, but real-life scenarios often don't permit that," he said.

Although China is officially an atheist country, there are 67 million to 100 million Christians in China while there are 87 million Communist Party adherents, according to estimates made by foreign scholars.

Last year, the Chinese government moved to force all religions to "surrender to the authority and leadership of the Chinese Community Party," according to Christian persecution watchdog China Aid.

Beijing targeted house churches, forcing them to register under the state-run Three-Self Patriotic Movement. With religious groups closely monitored and pastors handlicked by the state, Chinese Christians have learned to act "cautious and defensive toward outsiders," according to China Aid.

The new regulations, according to an October 2016 report, include a ban on wide-ranging religious practices, including "organising citizens to attend religious trainings, conferences and activities abroad, preaching, organising religious activities, and establishing religious institutions or religious sites at schools."

The new rules also seek to prohibit the spreading of the Gospel online, and "organising religious activities in unapproved religious sites," which is seen as an attempt to restrict contact among churches and religious organisations in China.

These rules, according to China Aid, are meant to further "suppress all unofficial religious activities via dispersing Christian house churches, silencing Tibetan and Xinjiang separatists and undermining the Vatican's influence on Chinese Catholics."

China currently ranks 39th on the Open Doors USA World Watch List of top Christian persecuting countries.