Displaying items by tag: China
In 2013, China's President Xi Jinping said that ‘whoever controls data has the upper hand’, and ever since he has been on a technological quest to build what some call a blueprint for a digital dictatorship. It would not only allow China's communist government to control huge volumes of data on its own citizens but also of those around the world. Dustin Carmack, who worked as chief of staff for the director of national intelligence, said, ‘You are talking about vast amounts of data they are running between, either in covert or overt cyber-attacks. In other realms, they are sucking up massive amounts of data around the globe that could have nefarious purposes in the long run.’ China has over 415 million surveillance cameras deployed throughout the country. Beijing uses digital currency, social security cards, social credit systems, and online interactions to keep an even closer eye on its citizens. Experts say China wants to be the global leader in exporting its authoritarian surveillance tech to other like-minded regimes.
The Omicron variant has spread globally. Leaders hoping lockdowns and travel bans had ended now face disruptions that could affect their economies and popularity. Italy’s PM Mario Draghi has made economic recovery a cornerstone of his leadership, but he is under fire for enforcing some of the strictest vaccine mandates in Europe. His honeymoon period could be derailed if further lockdowns or disruptions send the economy into a nose-dive. Inflation and supply-chain chaos are headaches for America. Uncertainty over Omicron threatens to make things worse after a wobbly economy and a shambolic departure of troops from Afghanistan. Biden’s handling of the pandemic previously inspired voter confidence but has now caused his popularity to drop. It is unlikely that he will take risks that could harm the US economy. China’s president is pursuing an increasingly elusive zero Covid strategy. If Omicron is more transmissible than previous variants, China's leadership could be questioned domestically.
Space satellites have become strategic assets and valuable military targets. China has vowed to become the world's leading space power by 2045. In 2019 it landed its Chang'e-4 lunar probe on the far side of the moon - something which had never been done before. The US air force secretary said, ‘China has moved aggressively to weaponise space. Conventional deterrence and operations depend on access to communications, intelligence, and other services provided by space-based systems. As a result, China has pursued and fielded a number of weapons systems in space designed to defeat or destroy America's space-based military weapons systems and ability to project power.’ Much of what happens in space affects life on earth. The 3,000+ active satellites orbiting earth today and their services have become indispensable. Among these are US military-operated GPS satellites for positioning, navigation and timing, serving military and civilian needs - for example taxis, grocery delivery services, monitoring weather, and communications.
Over 100 students lost their opportunity to continue their education at Jinweizi Christian School founded by Golden Lamp Stand Christian Church. The school mainly served Christian families escaping government-mandated public school. Because of its loving environment many children with autism and other special needs also attended. These children were discriminated against and rejected by public schools. Jinweizi operated for many years with a wide range of grades, from kindergarten to secondary, with comprehensive educational facilities and equipment for over 100 students. Communist party officials confiscated the school’s expensive equipment and effectively stripped the students of any opportunity to continue their education. Private schools in China do not have a traditional campus. Students meet in any available space: apartments, office spaces, or any available venues. Teachers and faculty rent properties until the government intervenes. Many Christian schools are considered ‘illegal’ because they are separate from the communist-controlled public schools.
On 26 October unknown people vandalised the door of preacher Dai Zhichao, filled the keyhole with glue, and cut off the electricity. Another church leader and his family were detained for over ten hours. Other members of Early Rain Church have faced mounting persecution. Officials shut off power and water to one preacher’s house for nine months. Keyholes to Christian homes are filled with glue. People are so harassed they have to move. One moved five times in two years. On 18 October police summoned a brother to the police station on a charge of ‘organising an evil cult’. In spite of harsh persecution, Early Rain has continued to speak for the persecuted, pray for people, and encourage other house churches to stand firm and walk the way of the cross. They ask fellow believers to pray that God helps and allows them to live in Chengdu in peace.
Just days after 150 Chinese military jets conducted drills close to Taiwan, escalating tensions between the two sides, President Xi Jinping spoke at an event to commemorate 110 years since the revolution that overthrew China’s last imperial dynasty. He said, ‘Compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait should stand on the right side of history and join hands to achieve China’s complete unification. The historic mission of achieving the complete unification of our country must be, and can be, realised.’ However, Taiwan’s defence minister said that military tensions with Beijing were at their worst point in more than four decades. China claims that Taiwan is part of its sovereign territory, in the same way as Hong Kong, and threatens to take control by force. Taiwan has its own elected government and constitution, maintaining that it will defend its democracy and independence.
For many years we have interceded for the persecuted Christians in China. A significant trend in the past year has been for even more church raids: according to an International Christian Concern report, ‘not only were churches shut down or demolished, but pastors and Christians are regularly arrested.’ Open Doors estimates that there are 97 million Christians in China, many of them in unregistered underground house churches and therefore considered to be ‘illegal’. Christians are not the only religious minority facing persecution; between 1 and 3 million Uyghur and other ethnic Muslims have been put in internment camps where they are taught to fall in line with the CCP. In January, the US state department described China's treatment of Uyghurs as a ‘genocide.’ China has also reportedly violated the rights of Falun Gong practitioners and Tibetan Buddhists.
The USA and Britain announced they would help Australia deploy nuclear-powered submarines (not nuclear-armed), taking a major step in challenging China’s broad territorial claims of its exclusive zone in the South China Sea. The announcement is a major step for Australia, which until recent years has been hesitant to push back directly at core Chinese interests. The decision to share technology for naval reactors, even with a close ally, is a major move for President Biden and bound to raise protests by the Chinese and questions from American allies.
In 2018 the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) bombed Golden Lampstand Church, completely destroying the building. Later workers transported the broken bricks from the scene. Now the government has initiated another round of arrests of church leaders, escalating its persecution against Christians who decide to ‘hold fast’ to the faith and refuse to compromise the gospel of Jesus Christ - despite facing another round of persecution. On 7 August police arrested nine leaders from the church, including Pastor Wang Xiaoguang, formerly imprisoned for three years, and his wife, Preacher Yang Rongli, previously imprisoned for seven years. Officials also summoned Chinese leaders from other churches for questioning. CCP authorities continue to persecute this house church with an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 members.
At least 33 people have died in the ‘heaviest rainfall in a millennium’ in central China. The torrential floods paralysed several cities, causing millions of pounds in damage. Vast swathes of Zhengzhou city are under several feet of water. Cars float down streets and 200,000 people fled flooding in Henan province, home to China’s agricultural industry. The subway flooded, trapping passengers inside carriages as water levels rose. Platforms were submerged and commuters clung to railings to keep their heads above the fast-flowing deluge as air was running out. Train services across the province have been suspended, highways remain closed, and flights cancelled. At least two dams in Inner Mongolia have collapsed. Other dams that enclose China’s reservoirs are threatening to fail. Rescue workers are evacuating residents from Hefei, and a hospital with 7,000+ beds lost power, with staff racing to relocate hundreds of critically ill patients. More rain is expected in the coming days.