It’s no secret that the Chinese communist government has taken full advantage of the coronavirus pandemic.
They’ve raided home churches, arrested pastors, and now, enacted new religious laws.
And if unchecked, here’s why the consequences for Hong Kong Christians will be devastating.
Hong Kong, a special administrative city of China, has resisted much of the oppression spreading throughout China in recent years.
The city has operated under its own government and has remained open to the outside world in the areas of business, trade, and finance.
Hong Kong has also protected freedom of religion, worship, and evangelization, providing a safe haven for Christians in the region.
But this state of semi-freedom is now threatened by potential changes to Hong Kong’s autonomous status.
In late May, the Chinese legislature approved a resolution to impose new “security laws” on Hong Kong.
Taking advantage of the global panic and unrest caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese government has sought to criminalize anything they define as “subversion of state power” or “secessionist activities.”
The approval of the resolution means that Chinese security forces will be able to operate directly within Hong Kong, clamping down on any activities deemed undesirable or subversive.
Of course, the Chinese communist regime has already proven that anything can be “undesirable”—especially any public or private practice of Christianity.
And many of Hong Kong’s believers are worried that this new resolution will result in fierce persecution and the ultimate extermination of Christianity in the city.
Cardinal Joseph Zen, the Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong, reflected somberly that the persecution rampant in mainland China will undoubtedly spread to Hong Kong.
“We have nothing good to hope for,” Zen said. “Hong Kong is simply completely under [China’s] control. We depend on China even for our food and water.”
“But we put ourselves in the hands of God,” Zen added, urging citizens to pray for God’s protection amid the new regulations.
Zen admitted that he has often been confused by China’s ever-restrictive actions toward Hong Kong, especially since the city provides valuable trade, resources, and connections that are not available to mainland China.
“Everybody understands that Hong Kong is very useful to China for the exchange of currency and many other things—investment by foreign enterprises…and now, they are ready to destroy everything, and we can do nothing because Hong Kong is [small].”
“[China] can crush [us] as they like,” Zen said grimly.
The Chinese government, of course, has portrayed its actions as protective rather than restrictive. But the huge protests throughout Hong Kong portray the people’s real fears over the new resolution.
Despite the city’s social distancing guidelines, thousands of protestors came out into the streets when the resolution was approved. The crowds included Christians and unbelievers alike, all of whom were concerned about the impending loss of freedom.
The Hong Kong police force suppressed the crowds with harsh and violent tactics, causing even more riots.
Bishop Zen expressed concern about the protests, noting that while they are necessary, they have already divided the church.
“Even our [Catholic] community is divided, as everybody in Hong Kong must take sides,” he said. “Even families are split.”
“I think the majority of the faithful, the silent majority…they think that the authority is wrong,” Zen continued.
But it’s been hard to rally the church as one during these unusual times, Zen added.
Despite the faithfulness of Hong Kong Christians and Catholics, and despite the suffering their brothers and sisters are facing in mainland China, these believers have received no affirmation or encouragement from the Vatican or other church leaders.
“And you can just imagine, in all these years, with all the persecution increasing in China, with all the cruelties, the brutalities of the police on our young people—not word from the Vatican. No word. Not one word.”
Zen called on the international community to speak up against the injustices already occurring in Hong Kong.
“I think the international community should feel a moral duty to [protect] this city, where we live according to international values. And also for their own interest, because the destruction of our system in Hong Kong is not good for anybody.”
“We [do] not accept any law made by a government that does not represent the people,” Bishop Zen concluded firmly.
Please pray for the protection of our brothers and sisters in Hong Kong and throughout China, and consider signing a petition to protect Hong Kong’s citizens from excessive police force.