by Curry Kenworthy
China's Communists are working hard to tidy up the country before hosting the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. Of course, "cleansing" is nothing new for the heirs of Mao. Following other preparatory crackdowns, the latest project for the CCP clean-up crew has been getting rid of foreign missionaries.
Voice of the Martyrs reported on the expulsion of more than one hundred missionaries from April to June, marking the largest operation of its kind since 1954. The winds of this year's Operation "Typhoon No. 5" targeted religious workers from the United States, South Korea, Singapore, Canada, Australia, and Israel. Earlier reports this year noted increasing actions against Chinese Christians and house-church leaders, also motivated by the approach of the Olympics.
When Chinese citizens go "bad" (from a Communist point of view) and desire unconscionable things like freedom or faith, foreign influence always gets some of the blame. If we send the house-church leaders off to prison camp and then kick out the foreign church workers, the Reds may reason, we may finally put a lid on this thing.
But in truth, these problems worrying China's tyrants are movements that are very Chinese, carried out by China's own. The house-church movement is adding more than one million members per year. These people join despite facing incredible risks and mind-blowing persecution, and they are not passive members--they make huge sacrifices to spread their movement to others.
Far from being puppets of the West, some Chinese Christians actually question the state of their brethren's faith in Western countries such as the U.S. Why? Interestingly enough, because of a lack of persecution--at least at the severity level they are accustomed to seeing. The Bible speaks of persecution for believers, and they consider this a universal symptom, to be fully expected. In other words, Chinese underground believers are not going to be put off their faith by one more crackdown or by sending away the foreigners--they enter their faith expecting persecution as the natural result of their commitment, and the Christians of China plan to launch their own missionary movements to other parts of the world.
Falun Gong is another Chinese movement whose growth scared China's government, leading to massive crackdowns which have spread, rather than silenced, the beliefs and messages targeted. China's own political movements, too, have continued to press for freedom.
China's political and religious janitors are going to have their hands full scrubbing away at all the unsightly stains that keep spreading on their own, thwarting the shiny propagandistic veneer that the Communists would like to display at upcoming Games.
Curry Kenworthy is vice president of the China e-Lobby. Visit china-e-lobby.blogspot.com for China news, opinion, and action opportunities for making a difference.