The persecution of Christians has reached an all time high in China and the government is contributing to the suffering of the faithful, according to the 2014 annual report released last week by Christian human rights organisation China Aid.
Based on the report, there were 572 documented cases of persecution against individuals from different religions last year compared to 143 cases in 2013, equating to a 300 per cent increase.
As for the number of religious practitioners who suffered from abuse, 17,884 reported being persecuted in 2014 compared to the previous year's 7,424. The number of persecuted church leaders also rose to 2,682, compared to 800 in 2013.
Based on the statistics, one of the most alarming changes reported was the huge increase in the number of 'dissidents' sentenced by the government, from just 12 people in 2013, to a total of 1,274 individuals in 2014.
The report told of government sanctioned modifications or demolitions of Christian property under the guise of eradicating illegal structures.
"The increase in government-sanctioned persecution against religious practitioners and human rights lawyers and advocates reflects the overall political transformation that is occurring within the Communist Party in China (CPC), namely an orchestrated effort to consolidate power and suppress dissent and any perceived threats to the Chinese government, including the growth of religion in China," China Aid stated.
Through their annual report, the group denounced the government led crackdown against so called cult activities as well the implementation of political reforms by CPC President Xi Jinping, which legalise the continued persecution of Christians in the country.
A study entitled Religion in China: Survival Under the Communist Rule estimated that by 2025, there could be as many as 160 million Christians in China and by 2030, the figures could reach 247 million, overtaking the US, Mexico and Brazil as the largest Christian nation in the world.
"It is fair to say that the rapid increase in the number of Christians in China over the past decade has triggered a unique sense of crisis within the CPC. As the Christian faith continues to grow in China, so does the number of Chinese citizens who embrace rule of law, oppose totalitarian governance, and support the expansion of civil society," the group stated.