Persecution ok, as long as it’s legal

I think our country’s love of law has gone overboard. In Christianity Today we read of the case of Xiaodong Li, a Chinese Christian criminal, arrested and tortured for have a Christian gathering in his home. China, a country estimated to have at least 100 million Christians, strictly controls religion (they’ll also go after the Muslims & Falun Gong), allowing only registered, that is, government supervised, churches.

After his time of arrest and torture, Li managed to make his way to the US, eventually applying for asylum. The courts are deciding against him however, claiming that China has a right to make and enforce its laws, laws that Li broke Because Li broke the law, it is not persecution he faces, but prosecution. Li continues his appeals (the latest to rule against him was a panel from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals) but I wonder what China and other nations that systematically practice persecution think. They have long known that we (usually) don’t approve of persecution. They have also long known that we won’t let their practices get in the way of our pursuit of mammon. Now they know that we’ll even send them their victims for repeat treatment.

UPDATE: One of the consequences of operating in China is going by China’s laws. Sounds reasonable. But what happens when those laws lead to prison for a person whose crime is no crime in our eyes? Recently journalist Shi Tao was convicted of “passing state secrets” on the basis of information provided by Yahoo. “Passing state secrets” in China means talking about things the world doesn’t want you to talk about, in this case a ban on media mention of the 15th anniversary of the Tianenmen Square massacre. So what are companies like Yahoo to do? Well, they could forego the profit and stay out of China until China is willing to play by the rules Yahoo likes (Or are the most important rules about making a profit?). Perhaps Yahoo thinks the best way to bring change in China is to engage with the system – play by the rules and use its influence to bring change over time.

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