By Tim Gamble
July 15, 2019
In March of 2017, Chinese authorities arrested Christian pastor and missionary John Cao, a permanent US resident living in North Carolina with his American wife, on charges of "illegal border crossings" between Myanmar and China. He was convicted and sentenced to seven years in 2018 after a perfunctory court hearing, despite the fact that Cao had been routinely making the border crossings for three years with the full knowledge of the Chinese government. Since his conviction, Cao's legal appeals have been delayed seven times. In the most recent development, Chinese authorities are refusing to allow Cao to appear in person before the court, stating that any appeals would be "paper only."
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) reports that Cao's "health is deteriorating, and he’s lost over 50 pounds. He’s forced to share a cell with a dozen inmates and only 1 bed."
Observers believe that Cao's arrest, conviction, and denials of an an appeals process, are part of the ongoing crackdown on Christianity by the Chinese government. The crackdown consists of the harassment and shutting down of many Christian churches and schools, including the bulldozing of some church buildings, the removal of crosses from public display, the arrest on spurious charges of many Chinese pastors and other Christian leaders, among other measures.
John Cao converted to Christianity in his 20s, attended seminary in the US, married an American citizen, and settled in North Carolina as a legal permanent resident. He and his wife have two sons. He has been doing missionary work in Myanmar and China for decades, traveling between North Carolina and Asia. He founded sixteen schools for improvised children and set up various anti-poverty programs during that time.
China, which remains under strict communist control despite opening up to capitalism in recent decades, has a population of approximately 1.4 billion people. The Communist Party in China, which is officially atheist, has approximately 70 million members. However, the strong growth of evangelical Christianity in China has resulted in slightly over 100 million Chinese Christians (approximately 75 million Evangelicals and 27 million Catholics. Also, the Chinese Orthodox Church, an autonomous Eastern Orthodox church, has about 15,000 members).
This situation of Christians outnumbering official Communist Party members is at least partially behind government crackdowns on Christianity over the last few years, as they seek to exercise control over Christianity in China. Communist governments, and all other collectivist regimes for that matter, demand that the citizen's top loyalty be to the State, not to God, the Church, or even the family. The State essentially sets itself up as God, and hates competition for that slot.
The ACLJ, which is representing John Cao's family, has an online petition calling for John Cao's release.
Sources: 1) Information provided by ChinaAid, 2) Information provided by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), 3) Information provided by Voice of the Martyrs.
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