The Chinese Government has tightened its hold on churches in recent weeks, according to an aid agency on the ground.
China Aid, a rights and religious freedom group, says it is as if Beijing is “intending to eliminate all house churches at once”.
It is reported that China has recently banned unregistered church worship and the teaching of Christianity to children.
The intensified crackdown on Christianity is thought to be due to next month’s 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.
An anonymous Christian told China Aid that they were ordered by the police “to stay away from church gatherings”.
In the city of Wenzhou, children have been banned from attending church services, with a local source revealing that many Sunday Schools had been “shut down” by Government officials.
China Aid reported that local Christians were “outraged” and argued that “the government had violated its own laws on protecting minors, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and China’s religious freedom regulations”.
Citizens are supposed to have freedom of belief under Article 36 of the Chinese Constitution.
China Aid said: “The government often uses excuses in order to investigate churches, such as alleging that they need to perform fire-safety checks, and it is likely the government’s so-called suspicions are actually just ruses used in order to sanction the baseless persecution of Christians.”
Christianity in China has been labelled a national security risk, and in the past few years hundreds of Christian pastors and activists have been arrested.
The international freedom watchdog Freedom House said in March that as many as 100 million people in China are facing “high” or “very high” levels of persecution under Communist rule.
However while religious freedom is under threat, Christianity has been growing exponentially in the country.
Academics predict that by 2030 China will have more than 247 million Christians, which would be more than 17 per cent of the projected population.