China has threatened to send children from Christian families to re-education camps, according to alarming reports from a member of a local church in the country.
A member of China's Early Rain Covenant Church has described the intensifying persecution of Christians by the Chinese Communist Party, saying that authorities had threatened members of the church that they could have their children seized and taken away to re-education camps. Others had been told that their adopted children could be forcibly removed from their Christian parents.
Liao Qiang, a member of Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, has told International Christian Concern (ICC) that their church had previously been shut down by authorities, and that their pastor, Wang Yi, had been jailed in 2018. However, despite this, the government continues to harass and persecute the church's members.
Qiang himself was forced to flee China, and now lives with extended family in Taiwan following "limitless persecution" from the Chinese Communist Party.
He has said, "They not only threatened us, normal adult, normal church members, but they threatened our children. Some of our members have adopted children, and CPC forcibly sent the adoptive children back to the original family. That is the main reason why we fled China. Because we can't guarantee our adopted child would not be taken away by them."
Previously, ICC has reported that authorities in China forcibly removed children from the family of church members Pei Wenju and Jing Jianan, with Chinese Communist Party officials saying they were being removed as the children were "trapped by an evil religion".
Qiang has also described how some parents had been ordered by China authorities not to send their children to Christian church-run schools. Others had been told they risked having their children taken away to re-education camps.
He has said, "The biggest help is to report the persecution. Report it fairly. We aren't saying the U.S. government should put pressure on the Chinese government. This isn't what we hope for.
"What CPC is most afraid of is being exposed. They are afraid of transparency. We don't want the government or the public to pressure CPC. Because under such circumstances, CPC will definitely intensify religious persecution. The worse China-U.S. relations get, the more CPC persecutes Christians."
The brutal Chinese regime hopes to use persecution as a tool to bargain with the West when it comes to trade negotiations, according to Qiang. He has said that the CCP "makes you think that they are willing to compromise, because they know Americans care about freedom of religion. If China makes a concession in religious freedom, then U.S. should compromise in trade."
ICC's regional manager for Southeast Asia, Gina Goh, has written in a report: "With the intensified crackdown against churches, both state-sanctioned and underground, there is no longer a safe place to be a Christian in China." She said that "almost every province in China has seen Christian persecution on the rise", but in particular Henan and Anhui provinces "have a high percentage of Christians" and have witnessed brutal "cross demolition campaigns."
Goh has said, "Thousands of crosses have been removed since 2018, with some churches levelled to the ground. Deteriorating Sino-U.S. relations could further encourage crackdown against churches in 2020."