The Kaifeng Jews are a part of a small Jewish community in Kaifeng, in the Henan province of China. About 1,000 people make up the Jewish community in Kaifeng.
Deng Xiaoping was the leader of the People’s Republic of China until 1989. Under his leadership, the Kaifeng Jews were able to rebuild a small synagogue and practice their religion freely. The Jewish community in Kaifeng felt alive again.
In 2013, Xi Jinping became the president of China. Under his leadership, cooperation with foreign religious institutions became strictly forbidden.
All Jewish signs were removed and the Kaifeng synagogue was turned into a “Community Comprehensive Cultural Service Center” by authorities. Personnel assigned by the government monitored the location to ensure no illegal activities were taking place, Bitterwinter.org reports.
Only religion approved by the government is allowed. “Judaism is not one of the five authorized religions, believers were told, and therefore is illegal,” authorities tell the community, according to Bitterwinter.org.
During religious holidays, Kaifeng Jews are scared to congregate, as people could report them to the police for celebrating.
The religious oppression in China is present to this day, as Xi Jinping is still in power and prohibits the Kaifeng Jews from practicing their religion freely.
Similarly, in Beijing, officials are working to extinguish the church under a new national security law.
In May, two Chinese nuns were arrested for practicing their religion, according to Reuters.
While priests are sometimes arrested on the mainland, “it is highly unusual for nuns to be detained,” a Catholic cleric said, who has long-time contacts on the mainland. “Normally they are left alone.”
In a written statement, the office of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents, including freedom of religion, are safeguarded under both Hong Kong’s Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, and the national security law.
Activists have continued to be arrested for speaking out about the religious oppression. For the ruling Communist Party, Hong Kong’s Catholics pose a serious challenge to its authority.