Wenzhou Christians hold service in church ruins after brutal demolition

China Aid
Reported in Chinese by Qiao Nong. Translated by Carolyn Song. Edited in English by Ava Collins.

(Wenzhou, Zhejiang—June 13, 2016) In the midst of negotiations to relocate a government-sanctioned church in China’s coastal Zhejiang, a team of officials destroyed the structure without warning on the evening of May 20 under the excuse of improving that area of the city.

Zhuyang Church, an official Three-Self church in Wenzhou, was in talks with local authorities about a relocation when nearly 100 officers razed the building, leaving the church in ruins. Church members reported that the head of the church had been negotiating with officials from a sub-district government office regarding a new location and the fee needed for the move in the days before the surprise attack. No consensus regarding the relocation had been made at the time of the demolition.

Members of Zhuyang Church hold service in the rubble of their
church building on May 22. (Photo: China Aid)

Unlike previous church demolitions, authorities did not claim that there was anything illegal regarding the church’s documents or construction. Rather, the reasoning given was that of “transforming the villages in the city,” including the village in which Zhuyang Church is located. This kind of building destruction is in line with the “Three Rectifications and One Demolition” initiative, a “beautification” campaign ongoing in Zhejiang since April 2014.

On the Sunday morning following the demolition, May 22, church members held a worship service within the ruins, holding protest banners which read “We are strongly opposed to this brutal, violent forced demolition,” “The illegal principles of law enforcement are intolerable” and “The powerful are headstrong.” Though church members uploaded pictures and texts about the demolition to the social media site Sina Weibo, all the posts were soon blocked by the website.

“Before, the government said that religious matters would be handled with care, but now it doesn’t care about religions at all,” a church member said after the event. “Even churches with full legal documentation, if they fail to reach an agreement, will be brutally torn down by the government. The brothers and sisters of this church wonder if justice still exists.”

China Aid reports on instances of persecution, such as the demolition of Zhuyang Church, in order to expose abuses of human rights and religious freedom by the Chinese government.

China Aid Media Team
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