A growing number of Chinese students who converted to Christianity while studying abroad abandon the faith once they return home due to the country’s hostile treatment of believers, according to a new report.

Foreign Policy reports that since 2010, increasing numbers of Chinese students have studied abroad, mostly in English-speaking countries. Among them, as many as tens of thousands who converted to the Christian faith overseas return to China every year.

However, upon returning home, 80 percent of believers eventually stop going to church, according to volunteers and missionary staff who have worked for years with Chinese students in the US. Foreign Policy suggests that this unfortunate trend is likely due in part to the Chinese government’s extreme monitoring of state-registered churches and persecution of unregistered “house churches.”

“When Chinese converts return home, they often find it difficult to select a church where they feel comfortable,” reads the report. “Many have grown up without exposure to China’s religious scene, where public proselytizing is severely limited and church networks are isolated and self-contained.”

China Aid, a persecution watchdog which has been documenting abuses against Christian churches, pastors, activists, and human rights lawyers, said in its report that throughout 2016, the government engaged in activities to force all religions to “surrender to the authority and leadership of the Chinese Community Party.”

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