China has progressed up the Open Doors World Watch List.

The annual report published by the Open Doors World Watch List on January 16 has put Asia squarely in the top spot of Christian persecution. The report stated a drastic rise of persecution of Christians in 2018, the year when Hindu nationalists ran amok in India and Indonesian Christians were living in fear due to the spurt of radical Islamism. The report specially mentioned China as Beijing has straitjacketed religious regulations in the country. If the Open Doors report is accurate, then about 50 million Chinese people have suffered government persecution in 2018 alone.

The Open Doors organization defines persecution as any kind of hostility which one experiences for simply following the Christian faith. This includes not only physical actions against Christians but also hostile verbal language and attitudes.

The 2019 edition of the World Watch list takes into account 50 countries. One Christian in three suffers high persecution in Asia. According to Nina Shea, director, Center for Religious Freedom, Hudson Institute, Christians are being persecuted due to three factors: nationalism, militant atheism, and radical Islam. All three are present in Asia.

India earned the dubious distinction of finding a place in the top 10 list for the country's first time.

The top spot is held by North Korea, a position it has occupied for the last 18 surveys. The total number of countries having “extreme” persecution levels are now 10. The list of promoted countries includes China, Mauritania, Algeria, and Central African Republic. China has zoomed up the persecution list, from its 43rd position in 2018 to 27th in 2019. A few church leaders claim that Beijing has amped up the prosecution so much that the horrific days of the Cultural Revolution which ended in 1976 were better than present day. The world’s most populous nation holds anywhere from 93 million to 115 million Protestants. Catholics number anywhere between 10 to 12 million. It is anticipated that China will be home to the world’s biggest Catholic population by 2030.

It was observed that Beijing has only tightened its grip on places of religious worship in 2018. A large number of unofficial churches were shut down and pastors detained. Government workers removed crosses from urban and rural structures. A few Chinese cities even went to the extent of banning Christmas celebrations.

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