By Rachel Ritchie
(Yancheng, Jiangsu—Jan. 30, 2015) In the face of an upcoming gospel conference in Hong Kong in March, public security bureaus in several places throughout China have been denying Chinese citizens passes, which would allow them to travel from mainland China to Hong Kong or Macau.
Pastor Zeng Zhengliang of Zhongzhuang House Church in Jianhu County, Yancheng in China’s coastal Jiangsu province applied for a pass to travel to Hong Kong at the bureau of exit and entry administration of his local public security bureau and was denied on the spot.
“A Christian friend in Changsha, Hunan, called and wanted me to go to Hong Kong in March to attend the gospel conference,” Zeng said. “I went to the Jianhu County Public Security Bureau to apply for the Two-Way Permit. They refused to process the paper. They simply told me not to go to the conference.
“I told them that the state’s policy is better now, and it allows us to attend such a conference. I think they are not acting in accordance with the state’s law nor are they upholding democracy or human rights,” Zeng said.
Meanwhile, a Uyghur man from Xinjiang applied for a permit to visit Hong Kong, but authorities refused to grant him one, a Guangzhou house church pastor said.
“He wants to go to Hong Kong to attend the gathering, but he can’t get a pass. He can’t even get a passport, let alone a Two-Way Permit. He wanted to write a letter of application so I found someone to write it for him. The public security bureau employee said that his application wasn’t good enough and that he must send it via express mail. After that, they said everything he did wasn’t good enough.”
“Some worshippers will not be able to go to Hong Kong,” said Pastor Zhang Mingxuan, president of the Chinese House Church Alliance, who faced a similar situation in 2010 when the Ministry of Public Security blacklisted his name, leaving him unable to leave mainland China.
“The authorities simply won’t let some of the worshippers process their paperwork. They have always wanted to control the house churches, and they are afraid that house churches contact overseas organizations and individuals, [which they believe represents a threat to the Chinese Communist Party],” Zhang said.
Recently, in November 2014, a similar conference in Hong Kong, called the “Good Pastors’ Training Conference,” saw a similar outcome when more than 100 worshippers who sought to attend were denied passes by public security bureaus in Shandong, Zhejiang, Shaanxi, and other provinces.