The Chinese government is implementing stricter rules against five types of social organizations that are deemed illegal, including house churches that are not registered under the Chinese Communist Party-backed Three-Self Patriotic Association.
China's Ministry of Civil Affairs held a meeting with other government departments including the Ministry of Public Security to define a list of "illegal social organizations" and launch a campaign against them.
Radio Free Asia reported that the meeting was held to "comprehensively deploy a special action to further crack down on and rectify illegal social organizations," which included house churches.
The report revealed that the Chinese government's key targets in its "special operations" were five types of "illegal social organizations'' such as "pseudo-national studies and mysticism activities, and activities under the guise of religious banners."
In the list provided by the Sichuan Provincial Civil Affairs Department, as much as 84 Christian and Buddhist groups were named as "illegal social organizations," including the Chengdu Qiuyuzhifu Church, which has been heavily persecuted by the Chinese government and the Early Rain Covenant Church, which the communist authorities had shut down in 2018.
The list also included several non-governmental charities and public welfare organizations.
China also launched a new crackdown on organizations whose names include the words "China," "Zhonghua," or "National," as it is deemed deceitful to present themselves as a subsidiary of the state if they are not.
Also targeted are those who participate in legal organizations to "deceive" the Chinese government, those who organize competitions in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and those who organize activities that "pretend" to promote health, sinology, mysticism, and religious gatherings.
According to The Christian Post, crackdowns on "illegal social organizations" and restrictions on religious groups in China have increased to a record breaking level based on a 2020 report from the Pew Research Center. The report revealed how China consistently had the "highest score on the Government Restrictions Index out of all 198 countries and territories in the study."
"The Christian church in China, now numbering nearly 100 million people, is facing a level of persecution and attempted control not seen for many years," Open Doors' World Watch List 2021 report said, The Tablet reported.
"The government will be well aware of the rapid growth of the church - if it continues at the rate that it has for the past 40 years then it will reach nearly 300 million by 2030, and close to 600 million by 2040," the report said.
Open Doors' Global Analyst and director of Strategic Research, Dr. Ron Boyd-MacMillan, emphasized that the CCP under Xi Jinping is "threatened" that the number of Christians is rising at a rapid rate - thus explaining the continued state-sanctioned persecution of Christians in the country.
The report says that on top of the crackdown on "illegal social organizations," the Chinese government also expects church leaders to be "country-loving," "promote socialist values," and "praise the government," which many of them are uncomfortable with. The Christian persecution in China also targets women and children, who are considered the most vulnerable of all.