China Aid’s Top 10 Persecution Cases in China of 2014

China Aid’s Top 10 Persecution Cases in China of 2014

Compiled by China Aid and Guo Baosheng, a China Aid guest commentator

Written by Rachel Ritchie

In 2014, Chinese authorities in charge of religious affairs persecuted the entire Christian population in China in order to “sinicize Christianity.” In addition to house churches, which typically face persecution, small government-sanctioned churches were also targeted, experiencing cross removals and building demolitions. The persecution against Christianity seemed to aim to eliminate the social influence of the Christian community and to correct and transform Christianity to fit the “Chinese Dream.” During 2014, cases in which the Chinese Communist regime persecuted Christians came out in rapid succession with each case worse than the previous one. Circumstances surrounding the trampling of Christians’ religious freedom in these cases were vicious in most instances and have caused a very bad impact. These cases have drawn extensive attention and condemnation from the international community. Among persecution cases in 2014, the top 10 are as follows:

Sanjiang Church

(Photo: Weibo)

1. Demolition of Sanjiang Church in Wenzhou, Zhejiang

On April 28, 2014, more than 1,000 armed police officers and government-hired thugs forcibly demolished Sanjiang Church in Wenzhou, Zhejiang. This attack, which is perhaps the most vicious, was part of a province-wide campaign to remove crosses and demolish church buildings that began in early 2014. According to the most recent statistics published on Dec. 12, 2014, more than 425 churches in Zhejiang have been targeted by the campaign; however, that number is speculated to be much higher due to the probability of unreported attacks. External estimates claim that as many as one-quarter of Zhejiang churches had the crosses topping their buildings removed in 2014. Two days after the demolition of Sanjiang Church, which cost believers more than 30 million Yuan (U.S. $4.8 million) and accommodated several thousand believers, pastors from American and Chinese churches, a China Aid representative, representatives from the Overseas Pastors of House Churches of China organization, and local Christians presented a letter that condemned the demolition to officials at the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles.

2. Zhejiang government demolishes Wenzhou church’s cross, injuring more than a dozen

An elderly Christian received a
fractured skull during the conflict
at Salvation Church on July 21,
2014. (Photo: China Aid)

In Wenzhou, Zhejiang, more than 600 uniformed government-hired individuals in fire trucks, ambulances and other vehicles stormed Pingyang County’s Salvation Church during the early morning of July 21, 2014, severely injuring 14 church members who were guarding the church. During the resulting confrontation, the crowd beat Christians with clubs. Many church members called emergency numbers, seeking police assistance, but local police refused to send officers to the scene. The government employees were unsuccessful in their attempt to remove the cross; however, they returned on Aug. 14, 2014, and succeeded in their task.

Several Salvation Church members, including one of the church’s pastors Huang Yizi, were detained during the series of persecution against the church. Human rights lawyers are currently working together to defend Huang.

3. Zhejiang demolition campaign affects churches in Wenzhou, Ningbo, Hangzhou and other cities

Huaien Hall

(Photo from church members.)

In addition to the demolition of Sanjiang Church’s building and Salvation Church’s cross, more than 420 other churches in Zhejiang were targeted by the provincial government’s “Three Rectifications and One Demolition” campaign. Some say that this bout of persecution against house churches and the province’s smaller Three-Self Patriotic Movement churches constitutes the most serious persecution of churches since the Cultural Revolution of the 1960-70s. According to internal government documents uncovered by China Aid, the purpose of the campaign is to “correct the phenomena that religion has grown too fast.”

The campaign has caused a large number of violent conflicts, leaving many worshippers injured. For example, on July 28, 2014, Wenzhou authorities removed Huaien Hall’s cross. More than 200 police officers and demolition experts arrived at the church around 3 a.m. with cranes, fire trucks and ambulances, successfully overpowered the more than 200 worshippers who guarded the church, and demolished the cross.

4. Henan authorities heavily persecute Three-Self Patriotic Movement church; pastor serving 12-year sentence

On July 4, 2014, Pastor Zhang Shaojie of the Nanle County Christian Church in Puyang, Henan, was dispute with the church over a portion of land promised to Nanle County Christian Church by the county’s previous leaders.
sentenced to 12 years in prison for “gathering a crowd to obstruct public order” and a questionable fraud charge. Pastor Zhang was detained in November 2013 along with more than 20 other church members as the local government sought to end its

Pastor Zhang Shaojie

(Photo: China Aid)

The church has been continuously persecuted since November 2013. While most of the detained believers have been released, Li Cairen, the woman officials claim is the victim of Zhang’s fraud, has been missing in police custody since Dec. 21, 2013, when she visited Pastor Zhang’s family. Other church members, including the pastor’s younger daughter, Zhang “Shanshan” Lingxin, have been detained in black jails for short periods.

When human rights lawyers formed a delegation to defend the Christians, they also faced opposition in the form of intimidation, threats of having their law licenses revoked, and beatings. In the meantime, the government began trying to stop worshippers from gathering at the church by repeatedly claiming it was condemned. Finally, on Dec. 18, 2014, the local government succeeded in their mission to shut down the church and removed the cross topping the main hall. Around the same time, the government withdrew around 4 million Yuan (U.S. $643,000) from the church’s bank account.

With China Aid’s help, Pastor Zhang’s older daughter, Huixin “Esther” Zhang, escaped from China in July 2014 with her husband and their young daughter. Pastor Zhang’s lawyers are currently petitioning to get his sentence overturned.

5. Guangxi government persecutes kindergarten founded by Guangdong house church; 4 people in custody

On Feb. 18, 2014, Liuzhou Domestic Security Protection Squad agents placed two women from the Hualin Foreign Language Experimental Kindergarten in Guangxi under criminal detention for “illegal business operations.” Authorities claimed that a textbook that teaches character cultivation, which was compiled by the kindergarten’s founding church, the Guangzhou, Guangdong-based Liangren Church, qualified as part of illegal business operations because it was self-published. Days later, lawyers for Cheng Jie, the kindergarten’s director, and Mo Xiliu, a teacher also in charge of logistics, determined that the charges were baseless because no profit was being made from the books nor where they available for use outside the school. Mo was later released on bail.

A family photo shows Cheng Jie with
her husband, Du Hongbo and the
couple’s young sons. (Photo courtesy of
Du Hongbo.)

Late at night on June 23, officers from Guangxi’s Liuzhou Domestic Security Protection Squad arrived in Guangzhou, Guangdong and forced their way into the home of Liangren Church member Li Jiatao, who was home alone with her two young children. Officers detained Li, whose husband, Liangren Church missionary Ma Jiawen, was in Hong Kong. The same night, officers also detained church elder Huang Quirui and Fang Bin, a local who had helped the church print the textbooks. The three were also charged with “illegal business operations.”

The Procuratorate filed the case against Cheng, Li, Huang and Fang on Nov. 9, 2014, and the trial was slated to begin in December 2014. The court alleges that the latter three defendants played a role in printing the books and selling and distributing them to other schools. However, lawyers for the group contend that while a small fee was charged to students to cover the costs of printing the books, no profit was made from the distribution of the books nor were the books ever used outside of Hualin Kindergarten.

After “failing inspection” in August and despite disagreement over the inspection from the school’s leaders and lawyers, the school began the process of closing its doors.

6. Guangdong house churches persecuted as cults following McDonald’s murder by alleged cult members

The Chinese government issued a list of “cults” that included many orthodox Christian groups after an incident in May 2014, in which members of the Church of the Almighty God, which the Chinese government has deemed a cult, attacked and killed a woman who rebuffed the group’s attempt to recruit her. This list led to the persecution of many house churches that local authorities claimed were cults, including at least eight in Guangzhou, Guangdong, and at least two in Foshan, Guangdong.

On Sept. 21, 2014, in Foshan, Fangzhou Church and Olive House Church were both raided by police during their Sunday services. Many church members were detained, and six were placed under criminal detention for “suspicion of utilizing superstitious organizations and superstition to undermine the implementation of the law.”

7. Group of Beijing Christians detained for “holding an illegal assembly” during visit to sick church member

The group posed for a photo before entering the sick church
member’s home. (Photo: China Aid)

Fifteen Christians from a larger group were detained on Jan. 24, 2014, when they visited Zhang Wenhe, another Holy Love Fellowship church member who was sick. The detainees were taken to Liyuan Police Station in Tongzhou District, Beijing for “holding an illegal assembly.” Between Jan. 25-26, police sent a father and son from the group back to their home in Tianjin while the remaining 13 worshippers were placed under criminal detention.

All the detainees were released within a month of being detained; however, the church’s elder Xu Yonghai proceeded to submit an application for state compensation on Oct. 2, 2014, which was rejected by the Tongzhou Public Security Bureau in December 2014. Xu plans to file an administrative reconsideration to the Beijing Public Security Bureau. Xu said that Holy Love Fellowship consists mainly of petitioners from other towns living in Beijing until they achieve the desired results of their various cases.

8. Shandong believers accused of being cult members

A group of 22 Christians from a Cao County, Heze, Shandong, were practicing hymns in a church member’s factory when more than 50 police officers raided the gathering and took everyone into custody on June 25, 2014. After releasing three worshippers along with their young children and one pregnant woman, police formally detained 12 of the Christians.

Police released all the Christians on June 23, 2014, except for Zhao Weiliang and Cheng Hongpeng whose arrests were formally approved on Aug. 1, 2014.

9. Church-founded schools throughout China face persecution in 2014

Shunchang students chip away at artwork on ruins left after
the school was demolished. (Photo: China Aid)

Authorities in China didn’t focus their persecution solely on churches in 2014; church-affiliated schools and Sunday schools were also harassed. While a persecution campaign caused damage to more than 420 churches in Zhejiang (see no. 3), churches were also ordered to stop Sunday school services for minors.

Additionally, two schools founded by the Guangzhou-based Liangren Church were shut down after the schools “failed to pass inspection” for various reasons that school officials claim were fabricated. Hualin Language Experimental Kindergarten (see no. 5) in Liuzhou began closing its doors in August 2014 after officials released a notice that “disqualified” school administrators from running the school.

The other Liangren Church-founded school, Wisdom Heart Kindergarten in Wanning, Hainan, which was home to more than 100 “left behind” children of migrant workers, was shut down by authorities on July 26, 2014.

On Aug. 31, the day before the school year started, authorities in Fuyang, Anhui, ordered a private, Christian-founded school to close; however, teachers and students proceeded to show up to Shunchang School the next day. Later, the school was demolished and its principal went missing.

Finally, a faith-based boarding school for orphans in Beijing called Angel Orphanage was shut down during early October when officials refused to issue a certificate that stated the school had passed its annual inspection, leaving teachers and their approximately 30 students, cared for by extended family members after their parents’ passing, searching for a new location in Shanxi.

10. Xinjiang house churches raided; non-Chinese deported

House church Christians in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region faced serious persecution in 2014. On March 5, 2014, police raided a gathering of several dozen worshippers in Yili, Xinjiang and placed two Christians under a 15-day administrative detention.

In May, two women were summoned to a local police station where they were detained for the better part of a day after the women had been seen distributing religious flyers around the town in Altay Prefecture two weeks before.

In early July 2014, a Xinjiang house church pastor was detained in Beijing as he got off a plane to visit local family members.

On July 3, 2014, more than 20 worshippers were detained by plainclothes officers in Urumqi during an “illegal gathering.” An American music teacher, who was present, was later deported.

On July 6, 2014, six pastors and employees from a house church in Kuerle were detained and questioned for organizing a summer camp for elementary students.

Later, on July 10, police in another part of Urumqi raided a training class attended by more than 50 people at a house church. At least three church leaders were detained and given 15-days of administrative detention for being part of an “illegal gathering.”

In late August 2014, local police in Urumqi raided a large gathering at a house church. Zheng Yayue, the person in charge of the church, was placed under administrative detention for five days for “engaging in religious activities at a site not designated for religious activities.”

China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
Email: [email protected] 

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