In recent decades, an increasing number of people in the West have been reading and studying the Biblical prophecies from the Book of Revelation, also known as the Apocalypse. Among Chinese people, too, there has emerged a growing interest in studying the Book of Revelation, where the readers perceive parallels between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s policies and practices and the prophecies found in the Christian Bible. For example, more and more Chinese people are calling the Chinese Communist Party "the Red Dragon." Since November or December 2004, many Chinese have renounced their membership in the CCP. When they do so, they often say they are ridding themselves of "the Mark of the Beast." Further, it is particularly interesting to read Chinese articles comparing Beijing to "Babylon the great, the mother of the harlots, and abominations of the earth." (Rev 17:5)
While the Book of Revelation reveals that Man’s ultimate end requires facing the final "Judgment," the particular way in which that will occur is expounded upon by all the great religions in various ways. The Chinese view on this appears largely unknown in the West. This article aims to summarize how some mainland Chinese Christians and Chinese Internet writers interpret the suppression of their faith in the light of terminology expressed in the Book of Revelation from the New Testament. The author is fully aware that other Christians may discern different meanings in this sacred book. This article should not be interpreted as an endorsement by the author of any particular view on this matter.
Intolerance Toward Religion: Communist China’s Policy
The anti-faith, anti-Christian characteristic of the CCP is well known, although the Party has sought to deny it. Its practice of suppressing religions, including the most popular ones in Asia—Buddhism and Taoism—can be traced back to the early 1950s when the Party first took power in China. In recent years, the international media has frequently exposed China’s brutal persecution of 100 million Falun Gong practitioners and its continued suppression of underground Christians, Tibetan Buddhists, and Uighur Muslims. All of the main international human rights groups as well as the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (an independent, bipartisan U.S. Government agency that monitors freedom of religion abroad) have documented and condemned such oppression.
The anti-faith, anti-Christian practices of the CCP puts China at odds with most industrialized countries, even though China’s GDP has climbed to the third largest in the world. For example, even though last April almost all the influential political leaders around the world attended the funeral of Pope John Paul II in Rome, no Chinese leader showed up. Considering the fact that both the Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers flew to Rome for the funeral and that even Communist Cuba sent its representative to show respect to the beloved Pope, the absence of a Chinese government representative stood out in stark contrast.
Of course, we should not say that no Chinese officials were in Rome to attend the Pope’s funeral. Chen Shui-bian, the democratically elected President of Taiwan, was there to represent the Republic of China. In an ironic twist, the communist government of mainland China sent a protest to the Vatican regarding President Chen Shui-bian’s presence at the funeral. Inside China, information on the Pope’s death and memorial activities was restricted to the bare minimum facts.
Denouncing the Red Dragon
The discordant relationship between the Vatican and the Chinese communist government has a long history. After the Communist Party assumed power in China in 1951, it severed its relationship with the Vatican. All Chinese churches were required to obtain approval from the Chinese communist government, and Catholics were not allowed to look to the Vatican as their authority. The majority of the Chinese churches, Catholic and Protestant, were closed down in the 1950s, and many priests ended up in prison, causing the churches to go underground. Arrests have since continued unabated. What remained in China were the so-called, "three-self churches," which submitted themselves to the leadership of the Communist Party. After 1957, the "three-self churches" were renamed the "Chinese patriotic churches," and they thereafter served as the model that the CCP used to demonstrate religious freedom in China to the outside world.
The Chinese government has put the number of Christians at around four million. In recent years, however, outside the "three-self churches," many more Chinese people have joined the underground churches. The U.S.-based Cardinal Kung Foundation estimates that there are about 12 million underground Catholic Christians in China who are loyal to the Pope. However, the communist government does not recognize them. Estimates by overseas NGOs put the total number of Chinese underground Christians (Catholic, Protestant, and other sects) at around 40 to 50 million.
In July 1999, the Chinese communist regime began to persecute Falun Gong. In late October, the government rushed a "Resolution on Banning Cults, Preventing and Punishing Cult Activities" through the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. This resolution has since been used as "the anti-cult law" to legitimize the brutal persecution of Falun Gong as well as other religious organizations, including the underground Christian churches.
On the website of the Committee for Investigation on Persecution of Religion in China (CIPRC—the website can be seen at: http://www.china21.org/English/index.htm), hundreds of reports from China on the persecution of underground Christians are documented. The titles of the reports alone are very revealing: "Anhui Province: Two Female Evangelists Beaten up and Sexually Harassed," "The Police Poured Cold Water on Her to Wake Her Up and Then Continued to Torture Her," and "The Police Informed the Husband to Take Away His Wife, Who Was Beaten Half to Death."
On the same website several Chinese government secret documents that were obtained and released by the CIPRC are available. These documents reveal the CCP’s engagement in the systematic suppression of all religious organizations that are not approved by the Party. Interestingly, in those secret official documents, there were several instances in which the communist government accused the underground Christians of calling the government "the Red Dragon" or saying it is "led by the Red Dragon." These secret official documents were dated as early as March 2001, indicating it’s been several years since the Chinese Christians came to regard the CCP as "the Red Dragon."
Shixiong Li, the founder of CIPRC in New York, might not be the first Chinese Christian to call the Chinese Communist Party "the Red Dragon." However, he probably is the first Chinese Christian to spell it out clearly to the media.
In his interview with a reporter from The Epoch Times in March 2005, Mr. Li explained that "Red Dragon" is another name for Satan. In the Bible it is revealed that in the final days, "that old serpent, called the devil, and Satan" turned into the "Red Dragon." It was cast down unto the earth after being defeated in the heavens, and continues to deceive the whole world. (Rev. 12:7-9)
Li further explained that the CCP is obsessed with blood and violence. It took red as its symbol, and it brutally persecuted the Chinese people, especially those who believed in God. The mainland family churches suffered a great deal under "the Red Dragon" and generally recognized the CCP as the terrible "Red Dragon." Mr. Li also stated that not just in the mainland, but also overseas, Christians and many pastors assumed "the Red Dragon" referred to the contemporary, most formidable red evil specter—the Chinese Communist Party. The prophecy was first known around 2,000 years ago. The Saints of that time could not have been prejudiced against the CCP. Today’s conclusion, therefore, is truly based on the striking similarities between the prophecy’s description and the easily recognizable characteristics of the CCP.
In the Book of Revelation there is also a prophecy about the "mark of the beast."
"And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:"(Rev.13:16)
"And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name." (Rev.13:17)
In the March interview, Mr. Li laid out his interpretation of this reference to the mark. "To join a normal organization or to take part in social activities, an oath of admission is not required. Why then do I have to raise my right hand, form it into a fist in front of the red flag, and make a vow to fight for communism throughout my life to be admitted to the Communist Party? The answer is that, by doing so, I have really taken an oath to ‘the Red Dragon’ and vowed to follow him forever, so that the ‘mark of the beast’ will be given to me."
It is no wonder, then, that when many Chinese people renounce their membership in the CCP, they say they are ridding themselves of the "mark of the beast."
Beijing As Babylon
Searching the Google website for the Chinese key word for "Revelation" returned about 55,000 findings. Of course, many of them are cross-links, or the same popular articles posted on different websites. The most popular articles focus on disclosing the CCP as "the Red Dragon." Lin Feng, a writer for the Chinese edition of the Pureinsight website, has written several articles on this topic. His interpretation of "Babylon the Great is Fallen" is particularly interesting.
Chapters 17 and 18 of the Book of Revelation describe a "great whore," which is a city called Babylon.
"A[a]nd I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns." (Rev. 17:3)
"And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication." (Rev. 17:4)
"A[a]nd on her forehead was written a name of mystery: "Babylon the great, mother of harlots and of earth’s abominations." (Rev. 17:5)
"For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies." (Rev. 18:3)
"And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus." (Rev. 17:6)
"And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth." (Rev. 17:18)
"It reminds me of today’s Beijing," wrote Lin Feng in one of his articles. Lin laid out the following three similarities that led him to conclude that Babylon in the prophecy was like today’s Beijing:
First, Beijing is, as Babylon was, the most "controlling" city in the world at its time of dominance.
Beijing is the power center of a vast country. Due to its totalitarian nature, it largely controls the fortunes of 1.3 billion people. In the democratic nations, by contrast, no such totalitarian centralized power exits to such a degree. Instead, checks and balances are built into the political systems, market-place freedom dominates the economic sectors, and the principle of private property is inviolable. The "woman" or "whore" as described in the Book of Revelation is dressed in scarlet, and the Chinese name for the Forbidden City in Beijing is "zi-jin-cheng," which directly translates into "Scarlet Colored Forbidden City." The "beast" on which the "woman" rides is the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
Second, Beijing and Babylon are cities drunken with blood.
Babylon is described in the Book of Revelation as "drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus." (Rev. 17:6) In the past 50 years, Beijing has seen bloodshed from so many of both the faithful and the innocent.
Since 1949, during years of peace, the Beijing government has been responsible for the loss of over 65 million Chinese lives, far exceeding the total of all wartime casualties in the entire last century. According to Chinese government official records, in recent years, a period the CCP regime self-claims as "the best period of human rights," the government has executed twice as many people each year as the entire rest of the world. That marks the Beijing government as an incredibly bloodthirsty regime. Nor has China yet accounted for the large number of extrajudicial killings.
Religious people are clearly the largest group targeted by the Beijing regime. Since 1999, thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have been murdered by extrajudicial killings, hundreds of thousands of them have been detained or imprisoned in forced labor camps. According to the Committee for Investigation on Persecution of Religion in China, of the six million family church members in China, around 2.7 million people have been arrested or detained at least once in the last two and a half decades, 440,000 were sentenced to forced labor camps, and about 20,000 people lost their lives due to religious persecution.
Why did this happen? The modern religions of Buddhism, Taoism, and Christianity are no direct threat to China’s political power. Falun Gong practitioners have no interest in politics and only want to be able to practice their faith to become, as they say, "good" people. Why then is the CCP so preoccupied with persecuting religions and popular qigong practices such as Falun Gong? The reason is that the CCP is a religion, a perverse religion, and it sees the orthodox, legitimate religions and qigong practices like Falun Gong as competitors for the hearts and minds of the masses. Even though the CCP has always proclaimed atheism and forthrightly denies the basis of all spirituality, its practice matches every single trait of a cult.
Consider this. When it was first established, communists regarded Marxism as the absolute truth of the world. It exhorted people to engage in a life-long struggle for the goal of building a "communist heaven on earth." This is, in effect, turning orthodox religion on its head. The CCP truly meets the definition of a perverse religion or cult. To this communist specter-worship cult, people who possess true faith are the Party’s enemy, no matter if they are Tibetan Buddhists, underground Christian church members, or Falun Gong practitioners.
Third, the kings and the merchants of the earth have committed fornication with her.
Beijing has become capitalists’ dreamland in recent years. From the early 1980s to the end of 2003, the accumulated foreign direct investment in China exceeded US$500 billion. In 2004 alone, Beijing brought in US$50 billion in new investments, the largest in the world. The superficial prosperity or the "China miracle" led to a "China rush" in the international business community, "for all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication."
Because of the large amount of foreign investment and consequent trade leverage, the dictators in Beijing are able to entice or even bully foreign companies and governments to make them "cooperate" with Beijing. Some large international corporations, such as Yahoo and Microsoft, engage in self-censorship to please Beijing; others, such as Cisco and Nortel, eagerly sell their most advanced techniques to help Beijing censor the Chinese Internet and monitor the Chinese people in what is called by the Chinese government, the "golden shield." At the United Nation’s human rights summits, Beijing easily blocks debate on its human rights violations.
Leaders from Beijing often bring with them huge potential commercial contracts when visiting foreign countries. Through under-the-table deals, they make even democratic governments do dirty things for Beijing in exchange for business. For example, when Jiang Zemin visited Berlin in April 2004, the German police illegally harassed Falun Gong practitioners, who were peacefully protesting the communist dictator. The French and German governments in 2004 leaned heavily on the European Union to lift the arms embargo against China despite China’s worsening human rights record and repeated threats to Taiwan. For more than three years Alexander Downer, the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, signed a certificate every month banning Falun Gong practitioners from protesting outside the Chinese Embassy. When Hu Jintao visited France in January 2004, the government was eager to illuminate the Eiffel Tower in scarlet color to appease the communist leader. Aren’t these examples of "the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies?"
Lin Feng also compared Beijing’s corruption to "Babylon, the great city." Beijing is luxurious in spending on "face projects," such as the Olympics, the national theater, and the CCTV tower, making Western contractors envious. The numerous scandals emerging from Beijing also tell us how corrupt the Chinese officials have become. Government officials have consumed, at government expense, an estimated US$30 billion yearly on dining and drinking at sumptuous banquets. Behind the superficial prosperity, hundreds of millions of Chinese are unemployed and live in abject poverty, and only a small minority of educated Chinese prosper.
The moral depravity of this country, like Babylon, is shown in the reversal of its attitude toward prostitution. When the communists originally seized power in 1949, one of the good things they did was to eliminate prostitution, which the early adherents of communism believed was a product of the decadent capitalism and Western imperialism. Today, the culture has reversed itself, and prostitution is rampant. Among the impoverished, five to six million young women end up in prostitution to make a living. Rampant corruption and desperate poverty make prostitution a booming business in China. It is estimated that about 12 percent of China’s GDP is related to the prostitution business. Beijing is much like the woman, "decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication."
Leon Chao is a writer based in Washington, D.C.