Chinese film director and cinematographer Zhang Ji has announced that his soon to be released film "Moses on the Plain" will no longer be called such to avoid any potential conflict with China's communist government because of the film's reference to the biblical name of Moses. Zhang announced during the Beijing International Film Festival last week that his film will now be called "Fire on the Plain."
"In this movie, we use a lot of fire as an element. I hope that we can use fire to connect different time and space, emotions, and that it can shine into our lives," Zhang explained to reporters, according to Radio Free Asia. "I hope it can bring everyone brightness and strength."
When asked by reporters however if the film's name change was due to a potential problem with China's communist regime,. Zhang refused to answer. The upcoming film, which will be released in December, is based onthe novel of the same name, "Moses on the Plain," written by Shuang Xuetao, which was released in 2016 and follows a detective trying to solve a murder case of a taxi driver.
"Moses is not just a name in the Bible, he is also a national hero of the Israelites," Chinese Christian Fellowship of Righteousness's Father Francis Liu explained, claiming that the film title change is an effect of Beijing's censorship of Christianity-related words from the public space, the Christian Post reported.
"For instance, he once led the Israelites against the tyranny of Egyptians and fought for freedom and liberation of his race," Fr. Liu added. He posited, "Do the Chinese authorities fear the positive meaning behind this name?"
Persecution watchdog Open Doors USA estimates that China is home to a 97 million-strong Christian community. They believe that most of these Chinese Christians worship in what China's communist regime considers "illegal" underground house churches, which are not registered with the state.
Moreover, the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern has documented over 100 incidents of Christian persecution in China in the span of just one year. Between July 2020 to July 2021, there were over 100 incidents recorded, with 14 of which labeled as "Sinicization," the act of forcefully assimilating religious groups into the CCP's preferred culture by China's communist regime.
In May, the Heritage Foundation also reported on intensified Christian persecution in China. The report revealed how Christians are being held in secretive "brainwashing camps" or what the Chinese communist regime calls a "transformation facility."
A Chinese Christian wrote about his experience following the CCP's raid of his house church in Sichuan province in 2018. He described prisoners being held in mobile facilities operated by the United Front Work Department and the Chinese state police.
He and other prisoners were made to stay inside windowless rooms without ventilations and were verbally and physically abused. Chinese authorities have also increased their demolition efforts of churches and other religious Christian structures.