Chinese Pastor Pan Yongguang and 61 congregants from Shenzhen Holy Reformed Church (SHRC) have continued to face persecution by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), even after fleeing the country in 2019, according to a report from The Blaze:
Despite escaping China, Pastor Pan and his parish have nevertheless been subject to continued harassments, threats, and surveillance by the CCP. Those they left behind in China have also paid the price for their families' Christianity, in the way of intimidation, interrogation, and other statist abuses, including the prohibition of a newborn child's legal status.
The pastor, whom CCP agents have accused of "treason," "collusion with foreign forces," and "subversion of state power," learned that his siblings and mother have been penalized as a result of his actions.
Another congregant's relative in the mainland was told by communist officers, "Your descendants may suffer."
The CCP requires churches to register with the State, which regulates the churches. Churches must install surveillance cameras, and display images of communist propaganda such as pictures of Xi Jinping. People under the age of 18 are also prohibited from participating in religious ceremonies.
Pressure mounted when the regime, responding to the 2019 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, sought to everywhere re-exert its dominance. Pastor Pan said that "quasi-martial law" was consequently imposed on Shenzhen and upon his parish.
The SHRC mulled over what to do. The church put the matter to a vote, and the majority elected to leave.
Though they successfully made it to South Korea, it was made abundantly clear both by local authorities and U.S. officials that Pastor Pan's congregation would be unable to stay. Less than 1% of asylum seekers were permitted to stay in 2019.
SHRC eventually fled to Thailand for fear of being deported by South Korea. However, SHRC congregants believe they are still being stalked by CCP agents in Thailand.
Within months of the SHRC's exodus, Pastor Wang Yi, the founder of one of China's largest unregistered churches, was sentenced to nine years in prison, denied all political rights, and fined. Yi's fate is commonplace for Christians in the region.
Spanish journalist Pablo M. Diez has elsewhere noted how Catholic Bishop James Su Zhimin, like others who refused to subordinate themselves to CCP religious regulators, was "disappeared" after "having spent most of his life deprived of his freedom."
Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong was similarly arrested May 11, 2022, for his religiosity, support of freedom, and criticism of the CCP.
The CCP has also activated agents in the United States. Earlier this year, five CCP spies were charged with stalking, harassing, and spying on Chinese nationals in New York.
In October 2020, eight illegal agents of the CCP were charged for surveilling, locating, and intimidating targets of the communist regime. These agents intended to coerce their targets back to China, where "they would face certain imprisonment or worse following illegitimate trials."
China conducts what Freedom House describes as "the most sophisticated, global, and comprehensive campaign of transnational repression in the world," against Christians and other minorities such as Uyghurs.
Over 1,500 ethnic Muslim Uyghurs have been detained in the Middle East and North Africa, many of whom have been extradited back to China. Thousands more have been targeted, hit with cyber attacks, or have had their families back in China threatened.
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