20,000 Chinese Christians persecuted by Chinese government: report

China's Premier Li Keqiang speaks at the opening ceremony of Boao Forum in Boao, Hainan Province, China, March 24, 2016. | REUTERS/CHINA DAILY

An annual report conducted by a persecution watchdog group and published on Wednesday, May 18 reveals that a total of 20,000 Chinese Christians suffered religious persecution at the hands of the Communist Chinese government in 2015 alone.

"In 2015, China Aid documented 634 cases of persecution in which 19,426 religious practitioners were persecuted, representing an 8.62 percent increase from 2014's 17,884 religious practitioners persecuted," read a statement in the "2015 Annual Report Chinese Government Persecution of Christians and Churches in China" conducted by ChinaAid.

China's "Three Rectification and One Demolition" beautification campaign targeted demolition of numerous Christian buildings and crosses on charges of violations with the country's building code. The demolitions have led to the death of a church pastor's wife in Henan province and the arrests of Christian leaders as well as human rights lawyers.

The report also pointed out that aside from Christians, Tibetan Buddhists and Muslims "likely experienced even more intense government persecution" by the atheistic Chinese government.

However, Christianity in China continues to grow despite relentless persecution.

The document indicated that Christians fasted and prayed everywhere, tied themselves on the cross, protested on the streets carrying small wooden crosses, re-erected crosses that had been removed by the authorities, and held up a staunch fight against the government demolitions. Many Christians were also boosted by the court victories achieved in cases including civil law, administrative law, and property rights law.

"The top leadership is increasingly worried about the rapid growth of Christian faith and their public presence, and their social influence," Bob Fu, ChinaAid president, told The Christian Post in an interview. "It is a political fear for the Communist Party, as the number of Christians in the country far outnumber the members of the party."

ChristianAid is optimistic that the Christian faith "will eventually cover the vast expanse of this nation."