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China’s Great Leap Backwards

by | Wed, Jan 11 2023

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Life has become increasingly difficult in China after Xi Jinping’s enforced zero-Covid policy locked down Shanghai, a city of 25 million people, and three years of border closures devastated the economy. People who for years were made to believe they could become rich by working from 9 am to 9 pm six days a week lost hope when Xi Jinping changed the rules to reintroduce common prosperity and revert to a Maoist type of repression. People have stopped striving and resolved to do only what is necessary to survive. Many are trying to flee from China with fears of it fast becoming a prison.

Elizabeth Kendal, religious liberty analyst, an advocate for the persecuted church, and former principal researcher for the World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission joined Neil Johnson on 20Twenty to discuss what the mainstream media don’t report on what’s really going on in China.

China’s Civil War

The Chinese Communist Party is in the grip of a civil war between President Xi Jinping’s ‘ultra-Maoist’ faction and the CCP’s two original factions: the Shanghai Faction/Gang, which represents China’s wealthy coastal cities led by Jiang Zemin, China’s President from 1993 to 2003, and Hu Jintao, China’s President from 2003 to 2013, who leads the Chinese Communist Youth League which represents China’s rural areas and the farmers and the agriculturalists.

The original two factions were set up by military leader Deng Xiaoping when he led the country after the death of tyrant Mao. Deng decided that presidents should be limited to being in power for a maximum of two five-year terms. He believed that after a ten-year term, the power should rotate between the two factions of Shanghai and the CCYL. Deng was also in favour of the people of China building individual wealth. He left a legacy of having restored China to domestic stability and economic growth after the destruction caused by Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

When Xi Jinping, who was from the Shanghai faction representing the wealthy elites and the wealthy cities, came to power in 2013, he broke away to create his own faction. He rewrote the rule book and consolidated his power by purging the Communist Party of tens of thousands of people who didn’t support him. President Xi Jinping muscled his way into extreme power by doing away with Deng Xiaoping’s limit of a maximum of ten-year term and secured a third 5-year term as President despite a deepening darkness, suffocating repression and escalating persecution of the people of China.

Take From the Rich and Give to the Poor

‘The only way for the Chinese Communist Party to maintain control was to give up on this idea that it can make everyone rich. So, Xi Jinping is moving the country back into a Maoist style repression,’ said Elizabeth. ‘He says we can no longer make everyone rich, so he’s moved to common prosperity, which means you take from the rich and give to the poor.’ This has made a lot of China’s very wealthy elites nervous.

Jack Ma, was one of seven of China’s billionaires targeted for a $5 billion wealth redistribution.

‘Chinese actors and actresses who had become very wealthy in the Chinese movie industry were suddenly being arrested and stripped of their wealth,’ said Elizabeth.

It’s one thing for billionaires and China’s wealthiest to make substantial forced donations, but the poorer working class have also been bled dry after years of working hard in the hopes of owning their own home.

‘They’ve been working by the Chinese model called 996 where if you work from 9 am till 9 pm six days a week, you will get rich. This is what they’ve been doing, and now they’re coming into their thirties, and they’re saying, “I still can’t afford to buy a house, I still can’t find time to maintain relationships, or do any of those things that I want to do, so what is the point?”’ says Elizabeth.

What the government has done is taken away people’s incentive to work. So, now they are just working the hours required for them to survive.

‘If the government’s going to take everything that you earn and all the crops that you grow, and just give you enough to survive, what’s the point in working any harder?’ said Elizabeth.

The Devastation of the Shanghai Lockdown

By 2022, youth unemployment in China was at 19.9% due to the zero-Covid policy enforced by the government. The Shanghai lockdown in March 2022 intensified the situation and crushed the private sector. The International Strategic Studies Association reported that the lockdowns were designed to bring the locals to heel, ending the speculation of free movement and economic prosperity, ensuring that Xi Jinping’s faction would not be challenged. Xi succeeded in crushing the once-powerful Youth League faction and installing his loyalists into top party posts.

Tens of Thousands Die From Starvation

The International Strategic Studies Association report also noted that tens of thousands had already died from deliberately induced widespread starvation or running out of medication after the government had sealed their apartments shut.

‘The mainstream media is not reporting these horrors. Night-time footage was released from Shanghai of lights on in various apartments, and you could hear people wailing and crying all through the city, like in a dystopian horror movie,’ said Elizabeth.

Footage was published on YouTube of an elderly man who had climbed out onto the ledge of his 12-storey apartment window because his apartment door had been sealed shut. He knocked on the window of his neighbour’s apartment. The neighbour, a young man, opened his window and filmed the conversation with this elderly man who wanted to know when the lockdown was going to end because he had no food.

Not only were apartment doors sealed shut, but apartment blocks throughout the districts had also been fenced in to ensure nobody could get out. To exacerbate the situation, people were being controlled by the red or green lights system on their phones set up by the Chinese Communist Party as a credit system of control. Every few days, a member of the family would be allowed to leave to buy food supplies as long as their phone had a green light.

‘Footage was captured of a woman giving birth on the footpath, attended by a passerby because her phone had a red light on it, and the hospital refused to let her in unless she had a green light,’ said Elizabeth.

Frozen Bank Accounts

There were protests in Henan Province after bank accounts were frozen due to the instability of banks that had loaned excessive amounts of money during the real estate bubble. No one could get their money.

‘When it became evident that people were going out to protest, the government turned the COVID red traffic lights on, which meant if you’re caught by the COVID enforcers, they would take you off the street and into quarantine, which is like a concentration camp,’ said Elizabeth. ‘Those COVID enforcers in the white hazmat suits are not nurses or health professionals. They are members of the People’s Armed Police. They are soldiers.’

Footage was released of COVID enforcers carrying automatic rifles to stop people from leaving the airport or a shopping centre because there had been one case of Covid. The Chinese Communist Party is teaching people that it is capable of turning an entire city into a concentration camp overnight and can crush the private sector, so all the elites and entrepreneurs from the Shanghai faction become completely dependent on the Chinese Communist Party for their rations.

So, the only option for wealthy people is to escape China or be forced to share their wealth with the poor. Many said they would rather die. What was the point of living?

Protests to End Lockdowns

People reached a breaking point when a fire broke out in a barricaded apartment in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang region. Ten people were burnt alive, and several more were injured because the fire department had difficulty reaching them through the barricades and sealed doors.

Protesters took to the streets breaking down barriers, destroying quarantine facilities, and chanting for Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party to step down. The protests had the desired effect, and restrictions were finally lifted.

The Christian Church in China

On a positive note, the growth of the Christian church has been phenomenal despite Chairman Mao expelling all foreign missionaries by 1953 and then executing pastors or throwing them into concentration labour camps.

‘The devil thinks he’s winning, but Christ comes in and redeems the situation,’ said Elizabeth. ‘God raised up an army of unassuming evangelists, mostly elderly women who could slip under the radar of Chinese police, and the church grew and grew, especially in the rural areas.’

After the horror of the Tiananmen Square massacre on 4 June 1989, Christianity started to take root in the cities amongst lawyers, doctors, teachers, engineers, economists, and educated people.

‘There are upwards of 100 million Christian believers now throughout China. They actually outnumber the members of the Chinese Communist Party,’ said Elizabeth. ‘So, now, the biggest problem is the danger involved in evangelism and the difficulty caused by so many laws that have been stacked upon each other to make any kind of Christian evangelising illegal.’

When there is despair and lost hope, people’s hearts are open to accepting the hope promised in the Gospel of Jesus. God promises us the best is yet to come.

‘They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’ Revelation 7:16-17 NKJV

This article was inspired by Elizabeth Kendal’s interview with Neil Johnson on 20Twenty. Feel free to share it by clicking on the social media links. To find out more about Elizabeth Kendal, visit her website at:

The Heavenly Man Brother Yun Brother Yun is one of China’s house church leaders who suffered prolonged torture and imprisonment for his faith. The Heavenly Man, an international bestseller translated into more than 30 languages, is the intensely dramatic story of how God took a young, half-starved boy from a poor village in Henan Province and used him mightily to preach the Gospel despite horrific opposition.

Click on the link to purchase this book from Vision’s online store.


God's Double Agent by Bob Fu

Tens of millions of Christians live in China today, many of them leading double lives in hiding from a government that relentlessly persecutes them. Bob Fu is fighting to protect Chinese Christians from persecution, imprisonment, and even death. In China, he worked as a full-time lecturer in a communist school, and at night he pastored a house church and led an underground Bible school.

God’s Double Agent chronicles Fu’s conversion to Christianity, his arrest and imprisonment for starting an illegal house church, his harrowing escape, and his subsequent rise to prominence in the U.S. as an advocate for his brethren. Click on the link to purchase this book from Vision’s online store.

To listen to Elizabeth’s full interview with Neil on 20Twenty, click the link below: