China Aid Association
(Guangzhou, Guangdong—Sept. 2, 2014) Reports of churches and Christians being targeted for persecution continue to emerge, with two of the latest occurring in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou and the beleaguered coastal city of Wenzhou, which has been at the center of this year’s crackdown on Christianity.
In Guangzhou, which borders Hong Kong, nearly 90 police officers stopped a five-year anniversary celebration of the Revival Church in the Yiexiu district and rounded up and took to the police station the approximately 80 people in attendance.
The police banned the celebratory gathering, which they called “an illegal meeting,” and interrogated and photographed everyone who was at the scene.
A pastor who told China Aid special correspondent Qiao Nong about the incident, which occurred at the end of July said, “That church usually has only 40 to 50 attendees. But for the five-year anniversary of the establishment of the church, some 70 to 80 people came, including some brothers and sisters who were invited from other churches. The number of police who came was about one-to-one [with the number of Christians in attendance]. They wanted the meeting stopped, and they questioned and photographed everyone one-by-one.”
The pastor said that at the time of its registration, Revival Church was meeting near Guangzhou’s well-known Garden Hotel, but authorities broke up the meetings, so the participants broke into smaller groups. The pastor said the person in charge of the church was from Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, in Wenzhou, which has been at the center of the Zhejiang province “Three Rectifications and One Demolition” campaign, some 500 to 600 Christians were guarding the Yazhong Church in the town of Yayang, in Taishun county, which is part of greater Wenzhou.
Authorities had ordered the church on Aug. 15 to demolish its cross, according to the church’s Brother Lin, who spoke to China Aid’s reporter Qiao on Aug. 16. He said the authorities had demanded the removal of the cross on numerous previous occasions, and that the members of the church had been guarding it for two months.
“There is only this church in Yazhong town,” he said. “They have already given us an ultimatum and they might show up next week [to demolish the cross]. That’s why we have been guarding the cross for the past two months.”
“The government wants to demolish the cross, regardless of whether it violates building codes or not,” Brother Lin said. “They simply use the excuse that it violates building codes to forcibly tear down the crosses. After the crosses are demolished, there’s nothing left to say. Their main target is Christianity.”
He added, “The cross is a symbol of our faith. I said we also have a line that can’t be crossed. They are demolishing the symbol of our faith. In some places where the crosses are legal, they’ve also been demolished.”
As of Aug. 7, at least 231 churches in Zhejiang province are known to have been targeted by the “Three Rectifications and One Demolition” campaign, resulting in the removal, covering up or modification of church crosses, the demolition or annexation of church buildings, and/or the conversion of church buildings into senior centers. Both Protestant and Catholic churches have been targeted, and although the campaign has been centered in Wenzhou, known as China’s Jerusalem because of its large Christian population, the campaign has spread to other areas, including the provincial capital of Hangzhou.
In mid-August, the crosses of Gulou Church in Hangzhou and Salvation Church in Wenzhou’s Pingyang were forcibly demolished, and electricity to Zengshan Church in the town of Xiaojiang was cut by the power company because the church refused to demolish their cross by themselves. Because of this, the Christians of Yazhong Church were very worried that the cross of the only church in their area would also be demolished.
China Aid has learned that authorities have stepped up monitoring of the Chinese chat rooms QQ and WeChat. Many Christians who expressed their displeasure over the forced dismantling of crosses or who posted information about the situation in their local areas have been warned, and some accounts have been shut down.
Brother Lin said, “If you post the truth onto the Internet, the police will come and investigate you.”