Tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators were subjected to tear gas, batons, rubber bullets and pepper spray, after police in Hong Kong attempted to disperse massive protests and sit-ins across the region this weekend. The crackdown has led for calls for Hong Kong’s leader Leung Chun-ying to resign as democratic movement spokespeople demand free elections. In a state-run newspaper, Chinese officials called the protests a threat to “social order,” and experts believe they may have even threatened to send in the Chinese army.

The Occupy Central movement and student groups organized the sit-ins that began on Friday, and have drawn massive crowds who are demanding democratic reforms. Though the region is a part of China, it operates semi-independently. However, despite being promised free-elections by 2017, China is only allowing candidates who they’ve individually approved of. The Democratic Party chairwoman told Time, “The people have spoken, and we will work with them to try to secure democracy … Not a single window has been broken. I challenge you to go around the world and to find such huge demonstrations where there is no looting, there is no rioting” ... Discuss

A senior religious affairs official in China recently revealed in a state-backed newspaper that the government may soon establish a “Chinese Christian theology” that will conform to “China's national condition and integrate with Chinese culture.” Christianity, particularly Protestantism, is growing rapidly throughout the country, and in some cases, has caused tension between the government and churches. The government only allows Christians to worship together in approved churches, though “underground” house churches are pervasive in China. So far no details about what the new “theology”—which will be created by a government that is officially atheist—would look like ... Discuss

A massive earthquake has killed at least 398 people in China’s Yunnan province. As many as 1,800 others were also injured. Witnesses told ABC News that half of the homes in the impoverished area were destroyed when the 6.5-magnitude earthquake and a series of powerful aftershocks struck late Sunday. The Red Cross Society of China is currently assisting with relief efforts, giving blankets and clothing to families who have been left homeless by the tragedy ... Discuss

Yesterday, Bill Gates tweeted a stat from the book Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization, from historian Vaclav Smil that shows just how staggeringly fast China has grown: In a period of just three years, China used more concrete than the U.S. did in an entire century. From 1901-2000, despite building nationwide interstates, massive skyscrapers and infrastructure across the country, America used less concrete than China did in a single, three-year boom. Though Gates praises technology’s ability to create the modern lifestyle, China’s unprecedented quick growth has led to some experts pointing to environmental and safety concerns ... Discuss

At least 31 people were killed and nearly 100 injured during a series of explosions in a crowded market in the capital of the Xinjiang region of China this morning. A witness told CNN that many of the victims at the open-air shopping area were elderly: "It's mainly people coming to trade vegetables, especially the elderly who get up early and buy vegetables to cook.” Just before 8 a.m., two vehicles plowed into the market area, as passengers threw explosive devices out of the windows. Moments later, both SUVs exploded. It’s the latest in a series of recent attacks in the region, and comes just a day after 39 people were sentenced by local courts for "inciting violence."

Last month, Islamic separatist perpetrated a knife attack in the region, in which 79 people were injured and three died. Though it’s unclear who is behind the most recent attacks, some Chinese officials have blamed a group called East Turkestan Islamic Movement for recent violence. The E.T.I.M. is made up mostly by Uyghurs, an ethnic minority in the region, some of whom have complained about mistreatment from the Han Chinese people, who make up the majority of the population ... Discuss

A few weeks back, we posted a report about the Sanjiang church in China’s Zhejiang province, which was the site of a massive, days-long protest by local Christians seeking to save it from demolition. However, according to The Telegraph, the country’s Communist government began destroying the multi-million dollar house of worship this week. Though hundreds of Christians had formed an around-the-clock human shield to protect their church, after a negotiation between government officials and church leaders appeared to formalize, many returned home. According to the paper though, “that deal appears to have broken down in recent days with reports that some church leaders and worshippers had been harassed and detained by security agents and officials.”

Yesterday, “around 100” police officers surrounded the structure as demolition crews began destroying the church, which is home to a growing Christian community in the region. Though Chinese officials claim that the move was due to structural issues, many others say it underscores the government’s increasing hostility to the growing influence of Christianity throughout the country. In an interview, Christian activist Bob Fu told The Telegraph, “This government-orchestrated barbaric forced demolition represents a serious escalation against religious freedom in Zhejiang. The Chinese regime chooses to disregard its own laws and the will of its best citizens" ... Discuss