|More than 1,800 Christians attend the
Three-Fold Vision Training Conference in
Hong Kong, March 6-9, 2015.
Updated at 10:46 a.m. on Sept. 15, 2017
(Chengdu, Sichuan—Sept. 12, 2017) Chinese authorities barred a pastor from traveling to Hong Kong to attend a Christian training conference today, echoing a growing trend that keeps church leaders from participating in overseas religious meetings.
At 6:00 a.m. on Sept. 12, Wang Yi, a pastor of Autumn Rain Blessing Church, and Jiang Rong, a pastor’s wife, set out from Chengdu, Sichuan, to attend the Three-Fold Vision Training Conference, a Christian training session in Hong Kong. Police followed them, and, at 7:00 a.m., numerous government personnel intercepted Wang at customs. Agents from the public security bureau took him to the Dongpo Police Station, where he was detained for one hour and returned home.
During his time in custody, he asked the officials to provide a document explaining their decision to disallow him from attending the conference. They replied that they didn’t have anything in writing, since this command came from top-level officials. They also could not tell him how long his ban on traveling to Hong Kong would persist.
Jiang, however, has already arrived in Hong Kong, which is taking place this week. Wang, who was supposed to give a lecture at the conference, submitted a letter dated Sept. 12 to be read at the event.
After his detention became known, people speculated that authorities banned Wang from traveling due to a piece he posted online that criticized new revisions to China’s Regulations on Religious Affairs, entitled, My Five Opinions on the New “Regulations on Religious Affairs.” In the article, he argued that the revisions blatantly violated the religious freedom rights enshrined by the Chinese Constitution. Additionally, he said that he will peacefully question the legality of the regulations and protest against their implementations.
Zhan Gang, a pastor, said that Wang’s ban “ … violated the laws. Citizens are granted the freedom to enter and exit borders. Pastor Wang Yi did not intend to do anything that might impair national security. He was merely going to spread the Word of God. It’s obviously not fair to treat him like that.”
In 2015, the conference boasted more than 1,800 participants, even though officials prevented more than 100 Christians from attending that year.
Prohibitions on Chinese Christians attending religious conferences abroad are becoming more frequent, triggered by the Communist Party’s fear that other nations are using non-Chinese belief systems to infiltrate the country. Revisions to China’s Regulations on Religious Affairs, expected to take effect in February, emphasize the country’s intent to continue preventing its citizens from traveling abroad to receive theological training.
Wang had been previously summoned to appear before officials on Aug. 17 because his church had never registered with the religious affairs department. Consequentially, officials declared it illegal and demanded that its services stop. Wang demanded a written notice, but they failed to provide him with one.
ChinaAid exposes abuses, such as those suffered by Wang Yi, in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.