The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has added further restrictions on Christian content on the social media platform WeChat, the Barnabas Fund reported Monday.
WeChat has blocked Christian search words such as “Christ,” “Bible,” and “Gospel,” the Barnabas Fund noted, and searches for these terms offer no results on the platform.
The Christian persecution watchdog also reported that WeChat removed a number of Christian accounts in late April and efforts to access these pages generate a notification that the accounts have been removed from service, stemming from complaints that the account violates the “Internet User Public Account Information Services Management Provisions.”
Christian sites such as “Gospel Times,” “Gospel TV,” “Gospel League,” “WeDevote Bible,” and “Old Gospel” were permanently shut down on WeChat, probably because their names contain sensitive Christian keywords.
Other users have complained that they have been blocked from uploading Christian videos to WeChat, while some Christian playlists have been removed from other music streaming services, all of which are monitored by the CCP.
In 2018, the CCP banned sale of the Bible on Amazon and other online stores in China, and searches for “the Bible” in Chinese yielded no results on JD.com, while on Taobao, Amazon.cn, and Dang Dang they led to other Christian publications, such as storybooks and Bible study aids, the South China Morning Post reported at the time.
“In China, all religious activities come under the close scrutiny of the officially atheist Communist Party,” the newspaper noted. “Beijing has often repeated its position that it will not allow ‘foreign forces’ to dominate the country’s religious activities.”
“A Christian bookstore on WeChat, China’s most popular messaging platform, based in southern Guangdong province said it was inundated with ‘notice of punishment’ warnings from the social media app on Tuesday, and that most of its content – including the Bible, and Christian books and gifts – had been deleted overnight,” the report added.
The CCP’s new Measures for the Administration of Religious Personnel, which were announced in February 2021, came into effect on May 1.