WEA Religious Liberty Prayer bulletin | No. 458 | Wed 12 Dec 2007
CHINA: REPRESSION ESCALATES IN LEAD-UP TO OLYMPICS
By Elizabeth Kendal
The Olympic Games will open in Beijing at 8.08pm, on 8-8-08 and China is getting ready. In a recent article, 'Faster, higher, censored', Graeme Philipson (The Age, Melbourne) states: 'China will use the 2008 Olympic Games to market itself to the world. All countries do this, but the Chinese example will look more like Berlin 1936 than Sydney 2000.' Philipson's point is that the image will not be real -- it will be a facade or an illusion -- with China using the Olympics to 'airbrush out the full extent of its oppression . . . just like Hitler and the Nazis 70 years ago'. He ominously warns: 'Visitors to China next year will see the new stadiums and the expressways and skyscrapers and apartment complexes. They will probably even be able to access their hometown newspapers on the web. They will probably not stop to think that the 1936 Olympics were followed by the most vicious repression the world has ever seen.'
Human rights advocates and Christian ministries report repression is intensifying in the lead-up to the Games. The government wants to ensure 'subversive' elements or 'reactionary' forces do not spoil the show. Shi Weihan (37) runs a Christian bookshop near the Olympic village. According to Compass Direct, though Shi worships in an unregistered house-church, his bookshop has only ever sold books for which he has had government permission. Recently Shi, his wife Zhang, and several employees were arrested. Whilst most have since been released, Shi and a female employee, Tian Hongxia (whose father was seriously beaten during the arrest), remain in custody. Shi Weihan is diabetic and there are concerns for his well-being. As China Aid Association (CAA) notes, this is not an isolated case.
CAA also reports that on 7 December a major police operation raided and detained all 270 house-church pastors meeting for prayer and Bible study in Linyi City in the northern coastal province of Shandong. They were handcuffed in pairs like criminals and taken off for questioning. As of 10 December, 150 pastors were still in custody.
In July 2001 Radio Australia reported China's Vice Prime Minister Li Lanqing as saying at an anti-cult exhibition that winning the 2008 Olympic bid proved the international community appreciated the social stability and economic progress in China and the healthy lives of the Chinese people. He concluded that this justified China's fight against 'cults'.
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD -
* will protect and keep Shi Weihan and Tian Hongxia in body, mind and spirit so they will grow in grace and knowledge of him; may he, the God of justice, sweep away Chinese injustice.
* will sustain and encourage all China's detained pastors and freedom advocates (including numerous writers and lawyers); by the working of his Spirit may he grant his faithful imprisoned disciples the honour of being used as channels of his blessing and saving grace into dark places.
* will fill China's pastors and influential Christians with great, divine, spiritual wisdom, insight and grace, so they may lead not by human inclination but according to his will and purpose. (Matthew 16:23)
* who is sovereign over all 'kings', will use the Beijing Olympics for his purpose. 'Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.' (Proverbs 19:21 ESV)