Xi has long instituted a harsh strategy to crack down on the faith and has ramped up surveillance amid the coronavirus pandemic. Amid Xi’s pursuit to maintain control in the country, Dr Ron Boyd-MacMillan, director of Strategic Research at Christian charity, Open Doors, claimed China’s premier is becoming increasingly concerned by the size of the Church – currently estimated at 97 million people. Speaking to Express.co.uk, Dr Boyd-MacMillan claimed the size of the Church in the country is set to rise rapidly in the coming decades and may reach 300 million people by 2030 – thus creating a group big enough to challenge Xi’s government.
He said: “We think the evidence as to why the Chinese Church is so targeted, is that the leaders are scared of the size of the Church, and the growth of the Church.
“And if it grows, at the rate that it has done, since 1980 and that’s about between seven and 8 percent a year, then you’re looking at a group of people that will be 300 million strong, nearly by 2030.
“And, you know, the Chinese leadership, they really do long term planning, I mean, their economic plan goes to 2049, so this bothers them.
“Because I think if the Church continues to grow like that, then they’ll have to share power.”
The Communist Party has instituted a policy of Chinafication in the state in order to merge the church into China’s cultural identity.
With citizens handing over their personal details due to the pandemic, the Communist Party has been able to increase its surveillance campaign in the state.
This surveillance and crackdown on religion has not just been isolated to Christianity, with many organisations accusing the state of creating forced labour camps for Muslims in Xinjiang.
It is believed up to a million Uighur Muslims have been sent to re-education camps in the state by Xi’s government.
“These arrests demonstrate that the Hong Kong and Chinese authorities deliberately misled the world about the true purpose of the national security law, which is being used to crush dissent and opposing political views.
“The UK will not turn our backs on the people of Hong Kong and will continue to offer British nationals overseas citizens the right to live and work in the UK.”
The British National Overseas visa will open on January 31 and allows for nationals overseas and their family members to stay in the UK for a period of 30 months.
Following that, those eligible will be able to apply for settlement after five years and British citizenship 12 months after settlement.
Amid the uncertainty over the spread of coronavirus, many politicians have called for an independent investigation into the state to assess the outbreak of the contagion.
Since the outbreak last March, China has now largely defeated the virus although there have been minor outbreaks in the state.
Any new outbreaks have been blamed on imported variants from abroad.
Feng Zijian, deputy director of the Chinese Centre for Disease and Control and Prevention, has blamed the recent rise in cases on “imported” variants.
He said: “The epidemiological investigations show that these outbreaks were not related to previous infections, but caused by newly imported sources of the virus.
“According to source-tracing investigation, the cluster infections reported in China since the winter are all caused by imported cases, inbound visitors and imported goods, which mainly occurred in cities with airports, land ports and seaports where there are people and good flowing in.”