|Xialing Church with a temporary cross re-
erected after the demolition.
(Photo: China Aid)
Reported in Chinese by Guo Baosheng. Translated by Carolyn Song. Edited in English by Ava Collins.
(Wenzhou, Zhejiang—Dec. 30, 2015) A government-sanctioned church in China’s coastal Zhejiang lost its cross on Monday after resisting authorities’ demolition attempts for more than a year.
Despite its status as an official Three-Self Patriotic Movement church, Xialing Church has faced pressure to demolish their cross themselves or vacate the premises to allow authorities to take it down. On Dec. 2, 2014, the church received an ultimatum regarding the cross’s imminent demolition and enlisted the help of human rights lawyer Zhang Kai. Zhang filed four lawsuits on behalf of Xialing Church, including a demand for compensation after a botched demolition attempt damaged parts of the church’s stairs and outer walls.
Zhang and his legal assistants stayed in Xialing Church while representing the cases of more than 100 Wenzhou churches facing similar demolition threats. For half a year, Xialing faced no direct threats thanks to Zhang’s legal work. However, authorities climbed the walls of Xialing Church in August 2015 and took Zhang and his assistants into custody. Zhang was placed under “residential surveillance in a designated location,” also known as black jail, and has not been seen or heard from since.
Lacking a legal defender, Xialing received another demolition notice on Nov. 11, which was finally carried out on Dec. 28. As of yesterday, Dec. 29, church members had re-erected a cross, only to have it torn down a second time.