|Members of Guangfu Church gather for a meeting.
(Photo: China Aid)
Reported in Chinese by Qiao Nong. Translated by Carolyn Song. Edited in English by Ava Collins.
(Guangzhou, Guangdong—May 10, 2016) A house church in the capital of China’s southern Guangdong province reported an escalation of pressure from authorities as multiple attempts to shut down gatherings and disband the church occurred in recent months.
An administrator for Guangfu Church named Mark said that the local public security and religious affairs bureaus have paid him frequent visits, asking the church to stop meeting. Mark recently returned early from a study abroad program in America in order to help with Guangfu Church’s troubles.
“The sub-district office, religious affairs bureau and public security bureau have been asking us to stop meetings since November 2015. We halted for three months, since the authorities told us that we could resume the meetings after Lunar New Year. We resumed meetings after the Spring Festival in February, as they’d promised we could, but the authorities again reached out to me and asked us to shut down in March. The landowners also found us several times and asked us to move out,” Mark said.
The landlord who rents the space where the church gathers has also felt threatened by authorities. In September 2015, he reportedly told Mark that he would rather pay liquidated damages than continue renting the space to the church because of the pressure from the public security bureau. Police also asked to take pictures of the church’s meeting space because, according to Mark, “the authorities wanted to know us better.”
Hoping to alleviate the situation, Mark has made multiple attempts to petition in Beijing, however authorities have prevented him each time. In one attempt on August 30, 2015, Mark was apprehended by two dozen police officers at the airport and forced to return. During a more recent attempt in April, a neighborhood committee pressured Mark not to go to Beijing, while authorities requested that he check in and share his location every day to prevent him from making a petition.
China Aid reports on instances of religious persecution, such as those faced by Mark and Guangfu Church, in order to expose abuses by the Chinese government and promote religious freedom and rule of law.