Authorities crack down on Christmas plans

House church gatherings are often
targeted and disrupted by authorities
in China. (Photo: China Aid)

China Aid
Reported and written in Chinese by Qiao Nong. Translated by Carolyn Song. Edited in English by Ava Collins.

(Guangzhou, Guangdong—Nov. 16, 2015) While house churches across China prepare for the upcoming holiday season, authorities have already begun to interfere with churches’ planning of Christmas parties.

Ma Chao, the leader of Guangfu House Church in China’s southern Guangdong, told China Aid’s reporter Qiao Nong that local religious affairs bureau officers called him, asking whether Guangfu House Church would be organizing a large-scale Christmas gathering.

“I said, ‘Yes, we won’t have foreigners participating, only Chinese. We will rent a place that can accommodate 1,000 people for a Christmas party,’” Ma said he told the officer.

Ma said police also harassed him about renting spaces after a previous landlord terminated the church’s lease.

“[The sub-district office] called to ask me to go meet with them, but I didn’t. I’m very busy right now. During this call from the sub-district office, the officer said, ‘You haven’t paid your management fees.’ I said, ‘I never skip the management fee.’ He asked, ‘Which building and room are you in?’ I responded, ‘Are you mentally ill? How could you know I haven’t paid the management fee if you don’t even know where I live?’” Ma said.

Ma said he believed he would be harassed no matter where he moved.

Guangfu House Church is not the only church facing increased scrutiny as the holidays approach. A house church in Langzhong, Sichuan, also reported that local police investigated their Christmas schedule.

“They recently asked a member of our church where he would spend Christmas,” said Li Mingbo, the pastor of the Langzhong house church. “He said there would be a gathering place rented out for Christmas. The police then asked to know more about where the Christmas party would be held.”

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