Despite the government's best efforts, Christianity continues to grow in the China, with the country's only Bible-printing company celebrating 150 million copies in 30 years.
According to Asia News, on November 8th, the Nanjing-based Amity Printing Co.- the only company authorized to print Bibles in China - celebrated its 30th anniversary. The company, which has printed Bibles in more than 100 languages and exported them to more than 70 countries, announced it had reached the milestone of its 150 millionth copy since 1988.
"We are grateful to be part of the Body of Christ for it is God who has brought us together in a big family to share His love and do His work," the company said in a statement. "We help each other in the Bible printing ministry and together spread the gospel of Christ to the whole world. Today, we witness the miracle He accomplishes for us."
Established in 1988, the Amity Printing Company is a joint venture between the Amity Foundation and the United Bible Societies. It is officially the largest printer of Christian literature in the officially atheist country, where freedom of religion remains strictly monitored.
According to the company, which says it is "committed to the mission of 'Serving the Chinese Church, overseas churches, the Chinese society and Chinese people', the first Bible came off the production line in Nanjing in 1987. By August 1988, the joint venture had printed 500,000 Bibles; by 8 November 2012, that number had risen to 100 million.
In the 1980s, many Christians were unable to afford Bibles, and were thus forced to copy the Scriptures by hand, word for word. Now, the company sells Bibles for 10 yuan a copy (US$ 1. 45) - an affordable price for all consumers.
The company says it maintains government standards in work practices and uses environmentally friendly materials. In addition, the UBS share of Amity profits is used to subsidize Bible distribution in rural China, where Scripture is harder to obtain.
The official Three-Self Patriotic Movement churches - China's officially sanctioned churches - are the only ones who can order-and sell-the Bibles. Scholars estimate that there are 68 million to 100 million Christians in China - compared with 87 million Communist Party cadres. It is believed that China will be home to 250 million believers by 2030.
However, speaking to Time Magazine in 2007, China Aid president Bob Fu said a boom in Bible production doesn't mean China is loosening its grip on religious freedom.
"It reflects the rapid growth of the number of Christians in China, but I don't see that can be a sign of increasing religious freedom," Fu said, pointing out that over the years, several Chinese have been arrested for illegally bringing Bibles into the country.
According to Open Doors USA, China remains one of the most complicated countries on the World Watch List as it is multi-faceted and incredibly diverse. While a considerable portion of the country's persecution is suffered by small groups of Christian converts among the Tibetans and the Muslim Uighurs, Christians among the main Han majority face continuing restrictions as well. Church meetings continue to be disrupted and stopped.