ADHRRF-Authorities in China’s central province of Henan have subdivided the population into categories, with Christians being classified as the lowest level of society.
In 2018, Lushi county in Henan’s Sanmenxia city continuously carried out a campaign to strive to create “civilized and honest rural families,” demanding that each township and village make selections and recommendations based on selection methods and standards.
In this appraisal campaign, villagers were divided into five levels: “exemplary households,” “civilized households,” “honest households,” “law-abiding households,” and “empty households.” Each rank of household receives different treatment. “Exemplary households” and “civilized households” enjoy a variety of benefits, such as free physical check-ups, the choice of any school for their children’s education, and so on. “Exemplary households” and “civilized households” are also given priority in bank credit, school enrolment of children, employment, and working in public welfare positions. “Empty households” are ranked the lowest; these households are not entitled to receive pensions, subsidies for their children’s education, or any other benefits, nor can they get a bank loan, join the Party or work in public welfare positions. Religious persons are, without exception, designated as “empty households” at the bottom of society.
The household of Li Yue, a Christian from Lushi county, was originally classified as a “civilized household.” In July 2018, the village’s Party secretary asked Li Yue to sign a written guarantee that she will not be religious, but Li Yue refused. The village’s Party secretary threatened her, saying, “If you don’t sign it, your name will be reported to the township police station!”
Afterwards, the village committee notified the village’s “civilized households” and “honest households” to go to the township hospital for a free physical exam, but Li Yue’s name wasn’t on this list.
Since Li Yue is a Christian and refused to sign the statement renouncing her faith, the local government revoked her family’s “civilized household” designation, and they became an “empty household” instead.
According to the local village officials, in late January of this year, the village committee demanded that statistics be collected regarding villagers’ religious beliefs. Without exception, any household with Christian family members is designated as an “empty household.”
On January 21, 2019, Zhang Na, a Christian from Lushi county, asked a government official why her family’s “civilized household” qualification was revoked.
The government official replied: “The higher-level authorities have expressly stated that no one who believes in God can receive these benefits. If you want to be designated as a ‘civilized household,’ you must abandon your belief in God.”
Zhang Na lamented: “In China, there is no fairness at all. If you believe in God, you cannot enjoy any preferential policies, and will even face discrimination.”
“All religious believers are seen as having cut their ties with the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP),” a team leader from a village committee said. “Once you’re on the government’s religious blacklist, you become a focus of the government’s attention. Just like religious people in Xinjiang, whenever any riot or disturbance occurs in society, the state will arrest these people first.”
Bitter Winter , a magazine focusing on the situation of Chinese people’s rights and religion, previously reported that the CCP forced Christians to abandon their faith by threatening to cut off their subsistence allowance. For people who believe in God, their children cannot take the university entrance exam, cannot take the civil servant exam, and cannot join the army. These discriminatory policies leave Christians facing a difficult choice.
Some religious figures are worried that by openly designating religious believers as the bottom level of society, the authorities are attempting to intensify people’s rejection of and discrimination against religion, and inciting the masses to be hateful towards religious believers. Christians will soon be completely deprived of their living space.
(All names in this article are pseudonyms.)