Open Doors launched its World Watch List 2023 on Wednesday, where China ranks top 16 among the 50 countries where Christians are most persecuted.
More than 360 million Christians suffered high levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith, according to the World Watch List 2023. More than 5,621 Christians were murdered, 2,110 churches were attacked, and 4,542 Christians were detained.
Ranked No. 17 last year, China has seen tightening restrictions and increasing surveillance over the past year.
“Surveillance in China is among the most oppressive and sophisticated in the world, and new restrictions on the internet and social media – together with the 2018 regulations on religion – are putting severe limitations on Christian freedom. Many churches are being monitored and closed, no matter whether they are independent or belong to the Three-Self Patriotic Movement. It remains illegal for under-18s to attend church,” the report explained.
“Christian leaders are particularly vulnerable to persecution, including imprisonment or, in a small number of cases, abduction. In the past year, several Christians have been arrested and charged with illegal business operations, fraud or acting against the state’s security,” the global religious persecution watchdog said.
“Life is also difficult for converts from Islam or Tibetan Buddhism. If discovered by their family or community, they are usually threatened and physically harmed – all in an effort to win them back to their original faith. Neighbors may report any Christian activities to the authorities or the village head, who would take action to stop believers.”
North Korea tops the list as believers are sent to labor camps or killed on the spot if discovered by the authorities. The top 10 countries include Somalia, Yemen, Eritrea, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and Sudan.