Photo: Xunsiding Church Pastor Yang Xibo with his wife before the second trial (ChinaAid source)
(Xiamen, Fujian province—May 5, 2023) An administrative lawsuit determined that the Pastor of Xunsiding Church Yang Xibo and his wife Wang Xiaofei should pay over $25,000 in fines. The Court fined them for “organizing illegal gatherings” with other house church Christians.
Pursuing legal options
Yang and Wang received their administrative penalty in July 2021. They applied for administrative reconsideration, which was denied by Siming District People’s Government. After the rejection, the couple followed the legal avenues for an appeal to Xiamen Municipal Intermediate People’s Court.
The final verdict issued by the Court supports the initial administrative penalty and revoked the appeal. The final verdict stated:
On August 14, 2021, Siming District Bureau of Ethnic and Religious Affairs issued the Administrative Penalty Decision numbered Xia Si Ethnic Religious Penalty Document #003 pursuant to the Regulations of Religious Affairs Article 71, giving Yang Xibo and Wang Xiaofei a warning and a fine of 100,000 yuan (~$14,400) respectively.
The couple’s response
Wang Xiaofei posted an update after receiving the verdict. She said that the decision did not surprise her, considering it the glory God granted them to join in Christ’s suffering. In her post, she quoted 1 Peter 2:20-21:
For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you would follow in His steps[.]
Pastor Yang Xibo and Wang Xiaofei attend Xunsiding Church, the largest house church in Xiamen, Fujian province. The church has a rich history in the city for the past 100 years. Both Yang’s aunt and father were significant figures in the Chinese house church, imprisoned for 15 and five years, respectively.
Targeting Yang Xibo and the church
Today, Xunsiding Church is under the leadership of Yang Xibo, the 4th generation of preachers. The religious affairs bureau and other departments target Xunsiding Church due to their house church status. Leadership, like Yang and those before him, refuse to submit to the state-sanctioned Three-Self Church.
On May 19, 2019, police shut down Xunsiding Church and gave them a fine of 25,000 yuan (~$3,600). Local government blockaded the church for a month and surveilled Christians. The church tried to meet at different places, but their gatherings were always raided by police. Officers would regularly show up on Sundays to beat and arrest congregants. They even destroyed private property and forced members to send their kids to public schools.
Resorting to drastic measures
Despite the harsh treatment, the police failed to dissolve the church. The government then opted for administrative penalties and excessive fines.
~Yu Bing, ChinaAid Contributing Reporter