|Government employees removed the cross
from Hangzhou Bay Christian Church during
the early morning of April 2, 2015.
(Photo courtesy of Hangzhou Bay Church.)
By Rachel Ritchie
(Ningbo, Zhejiang–April 24, 2015) Despite previous reports of the “Three Rectifications and One Demolition” campaign’s end in China’s coastal Zhejiang, government employees removed three churches’ crosses and threatened another with demolition and a fine earlier this month in a continuation of the province-wide campaign.
Hangzhou Bay Christian Church
During the early morning of April 2, 2015, police arrived at Hangzhou Bay Christian Church, which is in the county-level city of Cixi, in the city of Ningbo, where they removed the cross.
A Christian in the area told China Aid that government officials have been threatening to remove Hangzhou Bay Church’s cross for the last 10 months, along with a number of other churches’ crosses, but that church members have continued to guard the churches since the first threats.
When contacted, a police officer from the Hangzhou Bay Police Station said the cross was “too high” despite the church’s possession of all the necessary paperwork.
Enquan Christian Church prior to the removal
of its cross. (Photo courtesy of Enquan Church)
Enquan Christian Church
On April 4, 2015, religious affairs bureau employees in Zhenhai District, in the city of Ningbo, removed the cross from the government-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement Enquan Christian Church. The cross was relocated to the side of the church building. Church members noted the significance of the timing, with the harassment occurring the day before Easter.
A local Christian told China Aid that the local government recently held a meeting, stating that the “Three Rectifications and One Demolition” campaign, which affected more than 425 churches, will continue through 2016.
“We planned to reinstall the cross, but the campaign started again,” the church member said. “For the time being, we haven’t taken action to restore the cross.”
In the city of Lishui, the Qingtian County Government removed Youzhu Church’s cross on April 13, 2015.
A local Christian said that several hundred government employees arrived to demolish the cross, claiming it was “too high.” More than 10 people who resisted the forced demolition were taken into police custody and were released later that night.
Zengshan Christian Church
Similar to Hanzhou Bay Christian Church’s situation, elderly church members have been living in Zengshan Christian Church since local authorities in Pingyang County, in the city of Wenzhou, threatened to demolish the church building.
On April 9, Zengshan Christian Church found a notice from the bureau of land management posted on the outer wall of the church. The notice, titled “Statement Urging Implementation of the Administrative Decision,” stated that the church must return 3,125 square meters (less than 1 acre) of “illegally occupied” land within 10 days and that all facilities must be turned over. In addition, the church is required to pay a fine of 25 Yuan (U.S. $4) per square meter, totaling 78,125 Yuan (U.S. $12,613).
The statement also noted that should the church fail to comply, the government would forcibly implement the decision and a late fine of 3 percent of the total fine would be added on a daily basis.
“The statement we received today is the second of its kind. On Dec. 26, 2014, we received an identical document,” a church member said.
Mr. Wang, another church member, told China Aid that church leaders contacted the government after the December notice. “We conducted some investigations, and I told the government, ‘You already removed our cross, why did you post this notice on our church?’ Later, the local government director told me that since the cross had already been removed, this ‘case should be canceled.’”
Zengshan Christian Church faced notable persecution on Aug. 15, 2014, when government employees came to demolish the church, resulting in a physical conflict. Another such conflict occurred days later when officers were dispatched to destroy the church a second time.
China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
Email: [email protected]