Why Christians Must Wake Up to the Chinese Communist Party
Author’s Note: In this article, I carefully distinguish the Chinese Communist Party from China and the Chinese people. This is intentional. The primary victims of the Chinese Communist Party have been Chinese people and various other ethnic groups within China — all of them are image-bearers beloved by Jesus. Conflating a party with a people or a nation is a grave mistake, and I hope this article avoids it. My heart breaks for my Asian brothers and sisters in Christ living in China who experience more persecution in a week than I have in my lifetime.
Back in 2015, I read about “the great wall of sand.” The details confused me, but I understood it had something to do with the South China Sea and debates over who controlled what part of the ocean.
I read it and moved on.
At that point, I understood that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was important. I knew it was someone’s problem. It just wasn’t mine. I knew it affected some people. It just didn’t affect me.
But then something happened:
Worldwide, 4.5 million people died from a pandemic that began under the CCP’s watch.
Now, almost two years after the first case of COVID-19, it’s become increasingly clear, thanks to the invaluable reporting of journalists like Josh Rogin (further detailed in his recent book), that the pandemic came from a lab in Wuhan and that the CCP knew about it.
The Chinese Communist Party knew...
But the CCP hid its early knowledge of COVID-19 from the White House and from the rest of the international community. What happened next is even more disturbing:
- In late January of 2020, Chinese scientists mapped the genome of COVID-19, but the CCP banned them from releasing this vital information.
- The CCP spread a (now presumed false) story that the virus originated in a wet market in Wuhan. After this, the CCP destroyed all evidence within that market to make their theory impossible to prove or disprove.
- Simultaneously, the CCP began the quiet work necessary to protect its own population before other countries realized that COVID-19 was a serious international threat. The international delay was largely due to the CCP’s deceptive COVID-misinformation campaigns (falsely suggesting, for example, that the virus would stop spreading in warm weather). By the time COVID outbreaks exploded in China, the CCP was prepared to contain the virus swiftly. Meanwhile, it continued to spread misinformation about COVID-19’s transmissibility. The rest of the world, thrown off by the CCP’s lies and deception, was plunged into the most deadly pandemic in a century.
- The CCP then used threats — like withholding vitally important medical supplies — to keep other governments from looking too closely into the Wuhan lab-leak theory. Meanwhile, organizations like the World Health Organization (which is partially funded by the CCP) repeated the CCP’s faulty claims.
Now, as the truth comes out, the CCP is obstructing efforts to determine what happened, even though this information could prevent future pandemics.
The CCP was once known for its totalitarian, regressive control of its own population’s speech and knowledge. Now, it’s applying these same tactics to control speech and knowledge worldwide. The cost? Death, lasting mental and physical illness, and worldwide financial instability.
The Cost of the CCP’s Lies
Once upon a time, the CCP didn’t affect me.
That fairytale world came crashing down in 2020. I didn’t see my parents for a year. My city underwent psychologically destructive lockdowns to protect our at-risk community from the virus. Masks. Social distancing. Closed businesses. During this time, depression, anxiety, divorce, suicide, and gender dysphoria increased across the population, some reaching all-time highs.
If our call as Christians is to love our neighbor, how should we orient ourselves toward a party responsible for such tremendous loss of life and wellbeing?
After all, we must not forget that this behavior is in line with the CCP’s character.
The CCP ascended to power by murdering 45–100 million Chinese people (it is difficult to determine because the CCP keeps these numbers tightly protected), and starving millions more based on their personal beliefs. In recent history, the CCP used its power to crush minority ethnic populations like the Uyghurs (a Muslim minority in China who speak a Turkish dialect). It is imprisoning Uyghurs under false charges and to prevent the possibility of future crimes.
Can you imagine being imprisoned for crimes you have not yet committed? The CCP has created concentration camps where they oversee forced labor and conduct forced sterilizations on Uyghurs. As a result, the Uyghur population has experienced a 60 percent reduction in birthrates. This is a cultural genocide, which echoes previous CCP actions in Tibet.
And I haven’t even begun to discuss their treatment of Christians.
Chinese Christians and the Chinese Communist Party
The CCP uses technology to surveil and track the behaviors of its citizens in a way that would make Big Brother proud and Vladimir Lenin jealous.
Every person in China is given a “social credit score,” which evaluates their loyalty to the CCP and, using artificial intelligence (AI), predicts their future loyalty. The CCP has almost no limits, using cameras and facial recognition, as well as online surveillance, to track personal associations and travel, to evaluate speech, and to determine obedience to the CCP’s ideology. The CCP also requires private companies to play along by providing the CCP with data on employees — not only their behavior, but also their beliefs.
The cost of a low social credit score is enormous. The CCP will blacklist you, preventing you from receiving employment and home loans, restricting your access to banking, raising the cost you pay for bike rentals and other everyday goods, limiting your access to healthcare and education, and removing your ability to travel.
For example, as of June 2019, 27 million people had been denied airplane tickets because they were considered “untrustworthy.” Many of those deemed “untrustworthy” are doxed—their personal information listed online, their photos shown on buses and before movies—and their children are prevented from entering higher education.
The CCP will lower your social credit score for a wide array of misdeeds. Some examples sound comical: jaywalking or playing your music too loud on a train. But other examples should strike you as nefarious, like ideological dissent, including worshiping in a non-state-sanctioned underground Christian church.
Chinese Christians not only face the ordinary costs of a low social credit score, but they can be fined exorbitantly for hosting Christian worship gatherings or owning properties where Christian gatherings take place. In some cases, properties are even seized by the state. Chinese Christians carefully monitor all communication so as not to alert the party (which uses AI to read and report everything) to their faith or gatherings. One story highlights how terrifying the situation is: some Christian groups must use USB thumb drives to store all of their Christian resources and books so that if the CCP shows up, they can drop them into water, destroying the evidence in order to avoid life-changing consequences.
During my time as a pastor, I’ve had contact with many Chinese Christians and Chinese Christian expats. They will tell you horror stories about their interactions with the CCP, which I cannot repeat here for their safety. But the CCP is profoundly invested in rooting out Christianity, which it sees as a threat to its own ideology and totalitarian rule.
A New Way to Get Rich
What’s happening to the Uyghur population, where any sign of Muslim identity—having a beard, not drinking alcohol, or having a copy of the Quran — are grounds for imprisonment, 24/7 surveillance, forced sterilization, and forced labor is one of the worst abuses of human rights in this century. But the West has done almost nothing.
Why? The answer isn’t shocking.
Here are some examples:
- Disney filmed its live-action version of Mulan in Xinjiang, the province where the CCP is committing cultural genocide against the Uyghurs. In the credits for the movie, Disney thanked the CCP and the province of Xinjiang for filming there. In a similar move, they changed a Tibetan character in Doctor Strange to a white woman to avoid the CCP’s ire (the CCP has systematically destabilized Tibet, claiming authority over it in 1950). This allowed them to show Doctor Strange in the CCP’s lucrative markets.
- When the manager of the Houston Rockets tweeted a pro-democracy tweet in defense of Hong Kong — where the CCP is dismantling democracy and the free press in breach of its prior agreements — the CCP responded by removing Rockets games and gear from China. The NBA stood to lose about 400 million dollars, so it responded swiftly: the manager almost got fired, the NBA apologized, and LeBron James demeaned the manager as uninformed. James was likely making a bid for the CCP to play his upcoming Space Jam film in its lucrative market. The CCP, however, had its cake and ate it, too. Space Jam never came to China. Eventually, the Rockets’ manager left.
- Kodak posted haunting pictures of the communities wrecked by the CCP’s Uyghur concentration camps on social media. They later took the photos down and apologized.
- John Cena called Taiwan a country (it is a country, though the CCP claims it is a rebel province), and later apologized for it in Mandarin.
- The CCP demanded international airlines remove Taiwan from their maps. They obliged.
- Airbnb willingly sells all of its customers’ and hosts’ personal information to the CCP, and when their consumer privacy expert — whose job was to protect users — blew the whistle, they just shrugged. He had to quit.
- Amazon, Microsoft, and Google worked together with the CCP to launch WeChat — a one-stop communication hub for the Chinese people. WeChat allows the CCP to collect enormous amounts of data on its population, surveil their activity, and improve their social credit score system. The tech companies stood to make tremendous money from the deal, however, so they turned a blind eye to its totalitarian aims. But part of the deal is that these companies, like the Chinese populace, can no longer critique the CCP.
To state the obvious, it’s bad enough that the CCP surveils and controls its populace. Now, it’s exporting that control abroad, such that American corporations are increasingly enslaved to the CCP’s ideology — an ideology that justifies human rights abuses, precipitated a worldwide pandemic, persecutes Christians, exports totalitarianism, and enforces rigorous ideological agreement — and they’re unable to critique it.
A Call to Christians
This is only the tip of the CCP iceberg, and, if you’ve read this far, I hope you’re concerned. The West seems totally unable to address this international challenge, despite the fact that it touches our everyday lives and impacts the everyday lives of our Christian brothers and sisters overseas.
Are these matters for Christians to speak out about?
A few years ago, I taught a class on the book of Isaiah. One challenge for modern readers is Isaiah’s repeated reference to world powers that rose and fell over a period of 200 years (730–520 BC): the neo-Assyrian empire, the neo-Babylonian empire, Persia, Egypt, Edom, Aram, Phoenicia, Lydia, the Grecian city-states, and beyond.
It’s hard for Christians in the 21st century to place these nations on a map, much less understand the international politics Isaiah references.
Of course, Isaiah is not alone. Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Amos, Jonah, Habakkuk, Obadiah, and Nahum all spend a tremendous amount of prophetic energy analyzing the international scene outside of Judah’s borders.
Why? Because Yahweh was never just the God of one nation. He is the God over all nations. Jesus is not just one king among many. He is the king of kings. Perhaps this is why the great prophetic book of the New Testament, Revelation, describes national entities (in the style of Daniel) as monstrous beasts whose military might makes unholy matrimony with commercial powers.
This tradition goes back to the Exodus, when Pharaoh defaced creation by mandating the murder of all male Israelite children. He denied the Israelites their right to worship Yahweh. He exercised totalitarian control of his people, refusing to listen when they begged him to let Israel go.
Pharaoh did not understand that there are moral limits to power. Pharaoh did not understand that Yahweh was committed to restoring the world that Pharoah’s genocidal sin defaced. Pharaoh did not understand the Genesis declaration: that all humans are created in God’s image, full of dignity, kings and queens in their own right, imbued by him with inalienable rights and liberty.
So Yahweh crushed Pharoah. And, in the centuries that followed, he sent prophets to remind Israel that Yahweh remained in charge — no matter what the Babylonians or Assyrians did. He would oversee their demise, and, perhaps most shockingly, he would oversee their salvation.
In the face of such tremendous military and economic power, the temptation for Israel was to compromise with it. But repeatedly, the prophets delivered the same command: Israel must not compromise with Babylon. They must not become like the Babylonians, bow down to Babylon’s gods, or mince words about Babylon’s pride and evil (Daniel 1-6).
Jesus, as the resurrecting and restoring king, is profoundly concerned about nations that vandalize shalom — who compromise the welfare of humanity and creation.
Christians should seriously consider what it looks like for us to value life in the face of a looming giant who cares little for individual dignity and rights. We should be the loudest voices advocating for Uyghurs and against the social credit system that American-owned corporations are helping construct. We should push Wall Street and Hollywood to stop sleeping with Babylon — no matter how much money she promises to give.
And we should do all of this precisely because we know that Jesus loves China and the Chinese people whom the CCP oppresses.
So long as the CCP sets its face against the Genesis declaration — as Pharaoh and Babylon both did in the past — the regime will need sober Christian prophets to remind it that Jesus — not CCP president Xi Jinping — is king of kings.
Wanting to learn more? Check out this week's episode where we talk more about the CCP and roles Christians should consider.
Patrick Miller (MDiv, Covenant Theological Seminary) is a pastor at The Crossing. He offers cultural commentary and interviews with leading Christian thinkers on the podcast Truth Over Tribe, and is the coauthor of the forthcoming book Truth Over Tribe: Pledging Allegiance to the Lamb, Not the Donkey or the Elephant. He is married to Emily and they have two kids.Twitter