We are concerned about developing restrictions on freedom of religion or belief in China. This includes reports that authorities are tightening control over how certain religions are practiced, including Christianity. The freedom to practise, change or share ones faith or belief without discrimination or violent opposition is a human right that all people should enjoy.
We are aware of credible reports of the closure or demolition of unregistered churches in some areas of China, including the Early Rain Covenant Church and the arrest and detention of its Pastor Wang Yi. British diplomats met with Chinese officials in January and expressed concerns on the pressures facing Christians and directly raised Pastor Wang’s case. Also in January, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief, raised concerns about the case in the House of Lords.
We are also concerned by reports that individuals are being harassed or detained for their beliefs across China, and that new guidelines on religion may restrict lawful and peaceful observance. There is also evidence to suggest restrictions on sales of Bibles by unauthorised sellers are in place.
The Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, has asked the Bishop of Truro to review what the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) can do to better support persecuted Christians worldwide, including in China. The Review will map levels of persecution and discrimination against Christians around the world; assess the impact of the FCO’s current and recent support; and make recommendations. At the publication of the Bishop’s interim report, the Foreign Secretary said “I look forward to seeing the Bishop’s final report in the summer, and identifying further specific steps the FCO can take to do more to address the fate of persecuted Christians around the world.”