According to senior research director at Open Doors USA Dr. Ron Boyd-MacMillan, the Chinese government is fearful as the country’s Christian population continues to grow despite immense persecution.

Boyd-MacMillan recently told UK’s Express newspaper there is reason to believe the increase in persecutions in recent years is because the communist state fears the church’s growth.

“We think the evidence as to why the Chinese Church is so targeted, is that the leaders are scared of the size of the Church, and the growth of the Church,” he said.

“And if it grows, at the rate that it has done, since 1980 and that’s about between seven and 8 percent a year, then you’re looking at a group of people that will be 300 million strong, nearly by 2030.”

China’s population is expected to peak at 1.44 billion in 2029, meaning that in nine years Christians may make up 21% of the total Chinese population.

The Chinese government claims there are 44 million Christians in the country, but as most Christians practice in secret, estimates have put the true number at over 100 million.

In recent years, the Chinese government has increased persecutions of Christians. Christian religious leaders are often the main target, with many sent to prison for disobeying government dictates.

China has also undertaken efforts to “sinicize” Christianity in the country. Under the guise of removing Western influence, Christian symbols have been expunged from buildings and religious material has been censored.

According to official government statistics, China’s Christian population has doubled in the past 10 years.