Why is China putting hidden microphones and cameras in the homes of Catholics and Christians?

Recent reports state that China’s government has decided to put cameras and microphones in the residences of religious minorities, especially Catholics, as they consider them threats to the country’s stability.

Testimonies of some religious groups such as the Church of Almighty God mention that the Chinese Communist Party imposes increasingly severe measures to slow the growth of these groups. The informant mentions that, after being released from prison, where he remained because of the practice of Catholicism in China, a couple of government employees installed a camera at the entrance to his home, and mentions having found a hidden microphone in his home. 

A couple of years ago, The Chinese authorities arrested a member of the aforementioned religious group, questioning him for nearly two full days and demanding that he disclose information about his wife, children and other relatives. The witness mentions that the authorities continue to monitor his home on a regular basis.

In September 2019, the government installed two surveillance cameras in addition to the four existing ones in its home.

The Communist Party began the installation of facial recognition cameras in some villages in Hebei province a few months ago, where some Catholic groups reside. Other ethnic and religious minorities are subject to the same surveillance practices. In addition, last August the Chinese authorities would have hacked a webinar given by the Hong Kong church to monitor issues of interest to Christian communities in the territory, not to mention the constant arrests and harassment suffered by the leaders of the Christian movement in China.

Sam Brownback, U.S. Ambassador General for International Religious Freedom, has repeatedly described how Chinese authorities are employing extremely invasive surveillance methods, including cameras, chips to intercept mobile communications, facial recognition technology, and DNA sample collection: “The Communist Party has collected a wealth of data on most Catholicism practitioners in China. This is an unusual scenario of systematic surveillance that puts minorities in a compromising situation in the Asian country,” Brownback says. 

The U.S. Department of State sees China as a “of particular concern” because of the treatment of minority religious communities.