SANTA ANA, Calif. (Nov. 16, 2012) – Chinese church leaders do not expect major changes after China’s ruling Communist Party announced a new leadership team Thursday in Beijing.
Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang will succeed Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao as top Politburo Standing Committee members and take over the presidency and premiership, respectively, in March 2013.
It is unlikely the leadership change will affect China’s policy towards the church, states Xiao Yun (not his real name), Open Doors Director for China.
“As long as we communicate with the government, they leave us alone,” states one house church leader.
“All Open Doors contacts give us this same message,” says Yun. “The leaders in the Communist Party are not democrats. They want to stay in power, even after they step down from their official position. This means they make sure they select like-minded successors.”
Yun ads: “For now, the Chinese church expects it can continue to grow both in size and in depth. The government will keep close watch, that’s for sure, but severe oppression is something of the past.
“I like to say the government is improving, but on the other hand there are still some Christians in jail because of their faith. Christians are among the 400 minority groups (officially classified in 56 categories) that are still persecuted by society and sometimes the government.”
The majority of the Christians, however, experience growing freedom. China is ranked No. 21 on the 2012 Open Doors World Watch List of the 50 worst persecutors of Christians. Last year China was No. 16 and in 2010 No. 13.
According to leaders of unregistered churches, materialism is a much bigger threat for the church than persecution.
An estimated 100 million Christians worldwide suffer interrogation, arrest and even death for their faith in Christ, with millions more facing discrimination and alienation. Open Doors supports and strengthens believers in the world’s most difficult areas through Bible and Christian literature distribution, leadership training and assistance, Christian community development, prayer and presence ministry and advocacy on behalf of suffering believers. To partner with Open Doors USA, call toll free at 888-5-BIBLE-5 (888-524-2535) or go to www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.
(For more information or to set up an interview, contact Jerry Dykstra at 616-915-4117 or email [email protected])