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Partner with ChinaAid to Free Yang Hua

(Dali, Yunnan—April 21, 2017) A local public security bureau in China’s southern Yunnan province re-submitted the case of Christian hotel operator for prosecution after being ordered to investigate it more thoroughly, a defense attorney informed ChinaAid on April 13.

Tu Yan, a Christian from Hunan province who operates a hotel in Dali, Yunnan, was criminally detained last year for “using a cult to disrupt law enforcement,” despite her insistence that she had never participated in a cult. On Jan. 12, the Dali Municipal Public Security Bureau submitted supposed “evidence” to the local procuratorate for prosecution, which included 12 volumes and 2,400 pages accusing her of belonging to the Three Grades of Servants, a Christian sect the Chinese government labels cultic, to which Tu has no affiliation.

After reviewing the case, the procuratorate ruled that the public security bureau had gathered insufficient evidence and returned the case to them for further investigation. Tu’s lawyer, Ren Quanniu, said on April 13 that the public security bureau completed its second investigation and submitted supplementary evidence for the procuratorate’s consideration last month and that he would review the new information.

Tu’s sister, Tu Kui, said that, when she and her father talked to the Dali police about the case, the officials refused to answer their questions and would only tell them that the investigation was ongoing or that Tu Yan was accused of participating in a cult. Tu Kui and her father were not allowed to visit Tu Yan, and Tu Kui said she feels powerless to help her sister.

When officials originally took Tu Yan into police custody, they seized four other members of their church. Out of the five, only Tu Yan and another Christian named Su Min were criminally detained. Su hired lawyers from Beijing, but no other information has been released about her case.

ChinaAid reports abuses such as those suffered by Tu Yan, Su Min, and their fellow church members in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.

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Yang Hua
(Photo: ChinaAid)

(Guiyang, Guizhou—April 20, 2017) The wife of a gravely ill pastor imprisoned in China’s southern Guizhou province informed ChinaAid that her husband’s condition is improving, but not optimistic.

Wang Hongwu and her youngest son recently visited her husband, incarcerated church pastor Yang Hua, who contracted a critical illness while serving a two-and-a-half year sentence on a trumped up “divulging state secrets” charge. After their meeting, she said:

“We were forced to hang up only after 10 minutes of conversation. One of Yang Hua’s inmates laid him on his back and carried him to the meeting room. Although he still couldn’t walk, I could tell that the infections on his legs were under control, and the festering was also beginning to heal. His mental condition was good. Yang Hua cried when he saw his younger son, but we didn’t cry. We were so happy and full of gratefulness and peace.

“Yang Hua is a new prisoner, which means that only immediate family members are allowed to visit him, and only once a month. The government is paying a lot of attention to Yang Hua. We were surrounded by police officers when we were chatting. He will stay in the [prison in Baiyun, Guiyang] for two-and-a-half months, and then he will be transferred to another prison.”

Yang was previously hospitalized after inflamed ulcers appeared on his legs and spread rapidly, robbing him of the ability to sleep and walk. Initially, the detention center’s doctors told him they were merely pus sores and gave him only painkillers. The lack of proper treatment allowed the disease to spread. He was transferred to a hospital, where physicians diagnosed him with anaphylactoid purpura and said his condition was critical and had a myriad of possible side effects, including septicemia, alimentary tract hemorrhaging, and kidney damage.

After her visit, Wang reported that her husband’s condition, while improved, is still not optimistic.

Officials originally took Yang into police custody on Dec. 9, 2015, after he attempted to save one of his church’s hard drives from being destroyed in a raid. The next day, he was sentenced to two five-day sentences, one for “the crime of obstructing justice,” and the other for “gathering a crowd to disturb public order.” However, when Wang came to collect him on his scheduled release date, Dec. 20, 2015, she saw him hooded and forced into an unlicensed vehicle. She learned that he had been transferred to a new detention center for “illegally possessing state secrets.”

On Jan. 22, 2016, Yang’s charge changed a fourth time, and he was officially arrested for “divulging state secrets.”

For more than a year, Yang remained in custody without a trial and underwent torture as the prosecutors assigned to his case threatened his wife and two sons in order to force him to confess. Subsequently, he requested that the prosecutors be removed from the case, but he was ignored and tried on Dec. 26, 2016. In an act described by ChinaAid president Bob Fu as “barbaric religious persecution,” he was sentenced to two years and six months in prison on Jan. 5, 2017.

ChinaAid follows Yang’s case in order to expose abuses occurring within China, stand with persecuted Christians, and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.

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Pastor Xu Rongzhang
(Photo: ChinaAid)

Updated on April 21, 2017, at 12:32 p.m. CDT

(Zhengzhou, Henan—April 17, 2017) Authorities in China’s central Henan province declared singing a Christian song illegal on Saturday and detained a Taiwanese pastor for doing so.

At the time Taiwanese pastor Xu Rongzhang was taken into police custody on April 15, he was leading a Christian concert, which he believed to be prophetic, and had rented space at a karaoke location in Zhengzhou, Henan. While Xu sang "Jesus Loves You," a renowned Chinese worship song, with the congregation, authorities entered the facility, claiming they needed to check the firefighting equipment and took everyone gathered there to the police station. The Christians were accused of illegal religious activities, and the song they were singing was deemed against the law. Xu said he was interrogated for several hours and had his travel documents and phone confiscated. They were returned to him on April 17, despite the fact that he was released the same day he was taken in.

The police termed their treatment of Xu lenient and forced the Christians to compose penitent statements promising never to organize large-scaled gatherings again. Xu was warned not to hold services for more than 10 people at a time.

After Xu became a Christian at the age of 13, he was determined to become a pastor and has previously served many churches. He has prophesied for several political leaders and converted former vice president of Taiwan Annette Lu after he spoke to her about Christianity.

ChinaAid reports abuses such as those suffered by Xu in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law in China.

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China Change
Chen Guiqiu, April 9, 2017

■ Since February 27, four weeks after the much-reported torture of Chinese human rights lawyer Xie Yang (谢阳). who has been imprisoned since July 2015, the two family-appointed lawyers of Xie have repeatedly been denied meetings with him. The last time they saw him was February 6. According to Chinese law, lawyers are free to meet their clients any time during the trial stage. Rattled by the coverage of torture and responses by international legal professionals as well as foreign governments, China took extraordinary steps in early March to deny the torture and attempt to discredit the report, in an all-out propaganda assault. They forced lawyer Jiang Tianyong to confess to the “fabrication” on national television, and threatened Xie Yang’s lawyer Chen Jiangang (陈建刚), responsible for publishing his transcript of meetings with Xie Yang as the latter recounted the torture he was put through in heart wrenching detail. Recently, without the family’s knowledge or consent, a lawyer named He Xiaodian (贺小电) visited Xie Yang in custody at least once, apparently at the bidding of the authorities, in an attempt to get Xie to appoint lawyers who will cooperate with the government. Xie Yang’s wife Chen Guiqiu (陈桂秋), a professor of environmental science at Hunan University, wrote the following letter to Mr. He Xiaodian. This is an important development in the Xie Yang story, and China Change here offers an unauthorized translation of the letter. — The Editors

To the honorable Director He,* greetings:

Director He, as you can tell from the salutation, I continue to treat you respectfully.

Left to right: Chen Jiangang, Liu Zhengqing, and Chen
Guiqiu in front of the Changsha 2nd Detention Center in
December, 2016.
I was shocked to learn that you led a group of people to visit Xie Yang in the detention center. Did you know that for the last month Xie Yang’s own defense lawyers, Liu Zhengqing (刘正清)and Chen Jiangang, have been prevented from seeing him? Their legally stipulated rights have not been protected, and yet you were allowed to pay a visit. Can you tell me why?

Do you know the details of how Xie Yang has been tortured for over more than a year? Did you know that, because we exposed the details of the inhumane torture he was subject to, I was summoned, interrogated, and threatened at the end of last year? Did you see the reports vilifying Xie Yang run by CCTV, Phoenix, and Global Times in early March this year? Did you know that lawyer Chen Jiangang has been investigated, intimidated, and threatened? Did you know that he is currently having trouble in his practice and that he has two young children to provide for? Did you know that lawyer Liu Zhengqing has attempted to visit Xie Yang on numerous occasions, including many personal trips to the detention center, whereupon he has simply been rudely told to go away?

We have already clashed once before over this, last September. At the time, Xie Yang had been locked up for 16 months and hadn’t once been able to see his defense lawyers, yet you managed to see him several times! How strange, given that I had never hired you, or met you — yet you were somehow able to enjoy the extralegal privilege of meeting with my husband. And now, without even asking me for a cent or seeking my signature on a Power of Attorney letter, you’ve happily gone to the detention center to see Xie Yang, while the lawyers that I myself hired to defend him, who traveled long distances to Changsha, couldn’t see their client? As a lawyer, why is your allegiance aligned with certain people, and not the law?

Though it’s nothing unusual in today’s society, your eagerness to do the government’s bidding still gave me a shock. This is because I know that many years ago you left your post as a judge and were determined to become a lawyer. You seemed to be one of those who knew where the future of China was headed, and knew how to maintain a basic sense of human decency. You’re over 50 years of age, yet you still allow yourself to be led by the nose. Is it that you need to help frame up Xie Yang so you can bolster your political credentials? Or is it that they promised you a huge cash reward for cooperating? While you grieve for the recent passing of your own mother, have you considered that Xie Yang too has aging parents who are hoping for their son’s return? And that his brothers and sisters are all waiting to be reunited with him?

What is the purpose of your meeting Xie Yang, anyway? Did you go to try to force him to sign papers commissioning you as his lawyer? Why are you willing to be the scapegoat for these people? Do you want to become Xie Yang’s lawyer, enter a guilty plea on his behalf, and send him to jail? What I’m thinking is: even though you may be gaining benefit from doing this, and gaining illicit privilege, you may not be able to enjoy peace for the rest of your life. Surely you’ve heard of the many cases where ordinary people fight back against the injustice inflicted on them. I personally have no way of guaranteeing that, in Xie Yang’s case, there’s no relative or friend who won’t take excessive measures in his defense.

The right and wrong in this case is so clear that a four-year-old would understand! Perhaps in your heart you do understand, but you are bound by mutual interest with the relevant organs, have to do what they ask you to, and get rewarded for doing so, in the face of overwhelming public condemnation.

I heard that you don’t like to go online, so I’m going to ask one of your colleagues to share with you the reports from the three media mentioned above, accusing us of fabricating the torture, so you can watch them together and exercise your meticulous legal reasoning, of which I think you’re still capable. You can see for yourself how how the top-tier state media outlets of the country represent the twisted logic of the relevant departments handling the case; see for yourself the pure idiocy of it all; and realize how you are becoming part of this web of lies they’re weaving. You could still back away from this travesty, unless you believe that the sun can rise in the west if the people in power say so, and everyone else in China are deaf, dumb, and blind.

I’d like to think your actions thus far are a slip of judgment after a talk, or a drinking party, with certain people. But when it comes to Xie Yang’s case, we won’t let this happen. Please, think it over carefully.

Xie Yang’s wife, Chen Guiqiu
April 5, 2017

*He Xiaodian is the head of Hunan Gangwei Law Firm (湖南纲维律师事务所) in Changsha where Xie Yang was once an associate.

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Church fences destroyed by
officials in Zhejiang.
(Photo: ChinaAid)

(Wenzhou, Zhejiang—April 10, 2017) Authorities in China’s coastal Zhejiang province carried out violent attacks against churches refusing to install surveillance cameras in late March.

Local government departments began carrying out a missive from the Zhejiang provincial government to install cameras within churches that would assist authorities in monitoring religious activities. This command triggered an outpouring of threats against individual churches, stating that if they refused to set up the surveillance system voluntarily, officials would do so forcibly. In response, several churches in Wenzhou, a city in Zhejiang, have confronted government personnel, and members of Chenming Church demanded to know the legal bases for these measures. ChinaAid does not know the reasoning they were given.

On March 23, several churches sent a joint petition to the local government to protest the order.

Despite church members’ insistence that these actions have no legal precedent, authorities in the Tengqiao region of Wenzhou have been forcibly executing their threats. At 8:00 in the morning on March 30, officials invaded Anshan Church in Wenzhou and beat back the protestors, causing an elderly Christian woman to be admitted to the hospital from her injuries. Authorities also rammed bulldozers and an ambulance into the church’s fence, demolishing it.

On the same day, security guards hired by the government raided many other churches, including Chengan Church. Construction workers commissioned by officials also drove a bulldozer into Zhuxia Church’s fence because the members refused to install the cameras.

Meanwhile, members of Jinma Church were beaten and hospitalized for refusing to cooperate with the order.

According to Christians, authorities installed cameras in every church within the Tengqiao area, and older members of these churches were hospitalized after resisting.

ChinaAid reports abuses, such as those suffered by churches in Zhejiang, in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promote human rights, religious freedom, and rule of law.

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The Wall Street Journal
By Marco Rubio
April 6, 2017 7:24 p.m. ET

History teaches that when a government tramples its people, it won’t be a responsible global citizen.

No relationship is more important to the fate of the 21st century than that between the U.S. and China. As President Trump meets this week for the first time with Chinese President Xi Jinping, it is important to strike the right tone.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson greets President Xi Jinping in
West Palm Beach, Fla., April 6.
Photo: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
In recent days Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other officials have rightly pressed China—North Korea’s neighbor and main economic partner—to do more to halt Pyongyang’s growing nuclear and missile threats. Mr. Trump has also focused on America’s trade deficit with China and the real concerns of workers, particularly in manufacturing, whose livelihoods have suffered since Washington granted Permanent Normal Trade Relations status to Beijing in 2000.

These issues are important. But it would be a mistake for the U.S. to view its relationship with China only through the lenses of economics or security.

Proponents of normalized trade relations argued that China’s economic growth would lead to greater political liberalization, improvements in human rights, and increased respect for the rule of law. But that isn’t what happened.

Since it joined the World Trade Organization 16 years ago, China has experienced vast economic growth and become the second-largest economy in the world. Unfortunately, this merely created a wealthy class of Communist ruling elites, who continue to maintain their grip on power through ruthless violence, oppression and censorship.

The authorities round up human-rights lawyers with impunity, and reports of torture are rampant. Labor activists and women’s-rights advocates are arbitrarily detained. Confessions are coerced and televised. Christians, Tibetan Buddhists, Uighur Muslims and Falun Gong practitioners who desire to worship and live out their faith peacefully are subjected to immense suspicion and repression.

Beijing forcibly repatriates North Korean refugees, despite knowing they will likely be imprisoned, tortured or murdered by the regime of Kim Jong Un, whose horrific abuses of his own people are crimes against humanity. The Chinese internet is controlled by a vast army of censors who maintain the “Great Firewall,” which blocks websites such as Facebook and Twitter .

As the National Endowment for Democracy recently reported, China is taking unprecedented steps to control information by “shaping international news media, guiding the evolution of the global Internet, and influencing global culture through Hollywood.” Emboldened in its extraterritorial reach, Beijing is chipping away at Hong Kong’s long-cherished and supposedly guaranteed autonomy, while conspiring with other authoritarian states to stifle independent civil society.

China is unfortunately starting to treat its neighbors in a similar way. It has increased economic and diplomatic pressure on Taiwan, a democratic ally of the U.S. under the Taiwan Relations Act. China’s illegitimate actions in the South China Sea, including flagrant violations of international norms, threaten the region’s security and the free flow of American and international commerce. Sanctions against China for continuing these aggressions should be on the table if Beijing does not show restraint in these disputes and abide by international rulings.

China’s authoritarianism, its disregard for the rule of law, and its growing desire to upend rather than support the rules-based international order should give the Trump administration pause about cutting any deals with Beijing. The long-term concerns regarding China’s rise cannot be addressed through short-term concessions. America’s strategy must instead be grounded in a comprehensive approach that addresses China’s actions.

This week the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, of which I am chairman, is highlighting individual prisoners of conscience with the hashtag #FreeChinasHeroes. These people are not statistics. They are booksellers, pastors, writers, Nobel laureates, lawyers and human-rights defenders. Their “offenses” vary but their plight is shared. They are the people who suffer as a result of President Xi’s crackdown on dissent.

These cases and others should feature prominently in President Trump’s discussions at Mar-a-Lago. Prioritizing human rights in our bilateral engagement with China is not only a moral imperative but also a strategic one.

History teaches that when a government fears its own citizens and tramples daily on their fundamental human rights, it is unlikely to become a responsible global stakeholder, abide by its international commitments, or be trustworthy in trade agreements or efforts to tackle common challenges.

This is why it is important that President Trump stand up to President Xi on these issues, rather than parroting Chinese Communist Party talking points, which purposefully mask the very real differences we have with Beijing and undermine American allies’ confidence in our intentions. Anything less would be shortsighted.

Mr. Rubio, a Republican, is a U.S. senator from Florida.

Appeared in the Apr. 07, 2017, print edition.

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Congressional-Executive Commission on China

Free China's Heroes Initiative

CECC Highlights Prisoners of Conscience Cases in Advance of President Xi Jinping’s Visit


WASHINGTON, DC (April 3, 2017) – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ)—chair and co-chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC)—announced today the “Free China’s Heroes” initiative to highlight cases of individuals who are imprisoned, detained, or disappeared in China. These cases, among many others, should be raised during Chinese President and Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping’s upcoming visit this week.

In its 2016 Annual Report, the CECC documented the Chinese government and Communist Party’s efforts to silence dissent, suppress human rights advocacy, and control civil society. This repression has continued apace in 2017. These cases shed light on the human toll of the Chinese government’s crackdown on basic human rights and those who defend them.

All of the cases featured in this campaign are also part of the Commission’s Political Prisoner Database (PPD), which contains records on more than 1,400 political and religious prisoners currently known or believed to be detained or imprisoned.

“As President Trump welcomes Chinese President Xi to Florida, we cannot forget the men and women who languish unjustly in prison, the family members who do not know the fate of their loved ones, and the professionals who have disappeared for simply doing their job,” said CECC Chair Marco Rubio. “These people are not statistics, they are booksellers and pastors, writers and Nobel Laureates, lawyers and rights defenders. While recognizing the broad scope of U.S.-China bilateral relations, it is unacceptable for President Xi to get a pass on human rights. Not only is there a moral imperative to press for dissidents’ immediate and unconditional release, it also aligns with our national interests. No nation that flouts the rule of law at home and disregards the basic rights and inherent dignity of its own citizens can be trusted to be a responsible stakeholder on economic and security issues.”

“President Xi has overseen one of the most repressive periods in the post-Mao era. The men and women highlighted here are the human face of this repression. We too easily forget that behind the trade deficits and security concerns, real people pay a huge price for standing up for freedom. For this they are heroes and their unconditional release should be a prominent part of this week’s summit,” said CECC Cochair Chris Smith. “The President has the historic opportunity to change the failed policy assumptions of the past, increased trade and prosperity have not brought political liberalization to China. He should be consistent and strong on human rights protections and rule of law development because China’s failures in these areas critically impact economic relations and regional security. U.S. foreign policy must ensure that China plays by international rules so that our workers can compete on a level playing field; our food, investments, and cyberspace are safe and secure, and the men and women who suffer for freedom in China are protected.”

Background: During a recent hearing, the Commission received bipartisan testimony underscoring the importance of raising political prisoner cases by name during bilateral discussions with the Chinese government.

The Commission undertook a similar initiative in September 2015 in advance of President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Washington.

Political Prisoner Database Representative Cases

Liu Xiaobo
Radio Free Asia

■ The relatives of China's detained human rights lawyers have written to U.S. President Donald Trump calling on him to raise Beijing's human rights record during his forthcoming summit with President Xi Jinping in Florida on Thursday.

"We now know that they have been tortured, and we worry about whether they will live or die," the relatives said of their loved ones. "We want to know how they are looking, and why they haven't been allowed to meet with a lawyer for a year and eight months now."

"We have never given up trying to find out the whereabouts of our loved ones, nor trying to help them," the letter, addressed to President Trump at the White House, said.

Jin Bianling (L), wife of disappeared rights lawyer Jiang
Tianyong, and ChinaAid head Bob Fu (R) ask U.S. to locate
Jiang, Washington D.C., Dec. 7, 2016. Bob Fu
"We have been detained several times ... and beaten up by police because of our activities," it said. "We have sent hundreds of letters and paid hundreds of visits, but it has all been to no avail."

"We are writing to you, Mr. President, ... because we know that under the present reality, there is no hope of a fair trial."

Sixteen out of more than 300 human rights lawyers, activists, and law firm employees detained since July 2015 are still facing trial, while two have already been handed harsh sentences.

Request for demands

Jin Bianling, the U.S.-based wife of detained rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong, said she had penned the letter, dated March 31, on behalf of all of the relatives of lawyers detained across China in a nationwide police operation since July 2015.

"This week, Trump will meet with Xi Jinping, so we are hoping that Trump can make some demands on China, such as releasing all of the innocent rights lawyers and other citizens detained in the July 2015 crackdown," she said.

Jin said many of the relatives of the detained lawyers are themselves in dire straits as a direct result of the crackdown.

"Their children have been unable to get schooling, and there is no way they can live normal lives," she said. "They are frequently forced to move house, and they have been threatened, followed, and held under house arrest."

"The human rights situation in China right now is extremely dire ... and so we call on Trump for help as a last resort," Jin said.

Continuing crackdown

Since President Xi Jinping assumed power in March 2013, his administration has launched an ongoing campaign against peaceful dissent, freedoms of expression and religion, and the rule of law, the New York-based Human Rights Group said in a recent report.

In Washington, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) called on Trump not to overlook the estimated 1,400 Chinese political prisoners during talks.

"As President Trump welcomes Chinese President Xi to Florida, we cannot forget the men and women who languish unjustly in prison, the family members who do not know the fate of their loved ones, and the professionals who have disappeared for simply doing their job," CECC Chair Marco Rubio said in a statement.

"These people are not statistics, they are booksellers and pastors, writers and Nobel Laureates, lawyers and rights defenders," he said. "It is unacceptable for President Xi to get a pass on human rights."

He said Trump should press for the unconditional release of jailed dissidents on the basis that it chimes in with the U.S. national interest in the rule of law and individual freedoms.

"The President has the historic opportunity to change the failed policy assumptions of the past, increased trade and prosperity have not brought political liberalization to China," Rubio said.

'Not a major topic'

Pan Lu, a founder member of the China Human Rights Observer group, said he expects North Korea's nuclear program to take precedence over human rights.

"Human rights aren't a major topic at these talks, because ... solving the North Korea problem will help liberate 20 million North Koreans from long-term oppression," Pan said.

"China and the U.S. ... want to avoid major upheavals and stop the situation even turning into all-out war," he said.

U.S. officials have already indicated that North Korea’s nuclear program and U.S.-China trade relations will top the agenda in talks at Trump's lavish Mar-a-lago resort in Florida.

"Well, if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you," Trump told the Financial Times in an interview published online Sunday.

Trump has campaigned against what he describes as unfair Chinese trade policies, as well as raising hackles in Beijing by taking a congratulatory phone call from Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen, in violation of China's preferred "One China" policy.

But Trump also appeared hopeful of some kind of bargain with Xi.

"I have great respect for him. I have great respect for China," Trump told the FT. "I would not be at all surprised if we did something that would be very dramatic and good for both countries, and I hope so."

Clashes, conflict likely

U.S.-based Chinese studies expert Xie Xuanjun said talks later this week between Xi and Trump are more likely to result in conflict than constructive dialogue, particularly over rising tensions in the Korean peninsula.

"China has no bargaining chips left to play with the U.S., because North Korea won't do as it says," Xie said, adding that Sino-U.S. ties are now at their coolest level in several years.

"There are some similarities between the personalities of Xi Jinping and Trump," he said. "They both want to play the strongman, so it's likely we'll see some clashes at this meeting."

Reported by Yang Fan and Xi Wang for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Goh Fung for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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Radio Free Asia

■ Authorities in northwestern China’s Xinjiang region have begun searching the homes of mostly Muslim ethnic Uyghurs for “illegal items,” including religious materials and attire, after a deadline for handing in the contraband expired over the weekend, according to official sources.

In early March, Chinese authorities in Hotan (in Chinese, Hetian) prefecture’s Guma (Pishan) county issued an order requiring local Uyghurs to turn in items such as unsanctioned religious publications, calendars and utensils with the Islamic star and crescent logo, and religious attire, such as burkas.

Hotan prefecture in northwestern China's Xinjiang Uyghur
Autonomous Region. RFA
Uyghurs were called on to hand over the items—as well as other goods, including matches, leftover fertilizer and carpets—by April 1, after which “delinquencies will be dealt with,” according to the order, which did not specify what actions authorities planned to take against those who failed to comply.

On March 15, a police officer in Hotan—the location of a deadly attack carried out by a group of Uyghurs a month earlier—told RFA’s Uyghur Service that the goods could be brought to local neighborhood committees or police stations, where they would be confiscated in exchange for compensation.

“If they bring them to us, we simply take them and log the items [in a record book],” the officer, who spoke to RFA on condition of anonymity, said at the time.

“They have to bring all the items listed as illegal. They will be given compensation for the value of their items, though we can’t guarantee that they will be given money for all of them.”

But while police had earlier deferred to local residents to deliver the so-called “illegal items” to local authorities, RFA learned in recent days that security personnel have been carrying out searches of Uyghur homes since the deadline expired.

A security guard at the Guma township police station in Guma county contacted over the weekend told RFA that residents would not be held accountable if they hand over items during house searches, despite the passing of the deadline.

Those who do not offer up illicit goods to police that are subsequently uncovered during the searches, however, “will be dealt with accordingly,” said the guard, who asked not to be named.

A Guma county police officer, who also did not give his name, said the house searches were “not extreme measures at all,” in the aftermath of the Feb. 15 attack by three Uyghurs in Guma county that left five passersby dead and another five injured, with the attackers themselves shot dead by police.

“[Official] working groups are visiting the homes they are responsible for and having conversations with the homeowners,” the officer said.

“The mosque management committee, village committee and police—we are all conducting the investigation. We are doing this because maintaining social stability is of the utmost priority.”

Books confiscated

According to the officer, if books found in homes are on a list of 156 “legal publications” endorsed by the official United Front and Mosque Management Committee—which includes the Quran—authorities will stamp them with the Chinese characters “inspected” and allow residents to keep them.

Books “without clear publishing details,” as well as those on a list of “illegal publications” provided to them by the regional government, are confiscated.

“Some of the illegal books we collected include ones published during 1980s and 1990s, ones with words that are no longer permitted, ones without copyright information and ones sold by booksellers on the streets,” he said.

Residents of Hotan told RFA that the searches, and other security measures enacted by authorities in the region since the February knife attack, had made the lives of local Uyghurs extremely difficult.

An ethnic Han Chinese member of the 47th Regiment of the Hotan region Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps—a quasi-military brigade also known as the “bingtuan”—said area Uyghurs are required to attend meetings in local village offices every two or three days.

“I’m not saying there shouldn’t be any controls, but the controls should have limits,” said the man, who gave his surname as Wang.

“[The authorities] are interfering in every aspect of their existence, but the Uyghurs have to have a life as well.”

Wang said that many Uyghurs in the area agree with the central government’s basic policies in the Xinjiang region, but that “the lower level of government’s way of doing things is really different.”

“If you go to someone else’s house and order them to do this and that and harass them, you will disturb their normal daily lives and they will not accept that either,” Wang said.

“This kind of harassment will drive them to do things they wouldn’t normally consider.”

Hotan crackdown

Authorities in Hotan have cracked down on Uyghur residents since the Feb. 15 knife incident, which sources say was motivated by anger at threats by local officials to punish the attackers for praying with their family—an activity outlawed as part of a bid to restrict Muslim religious practice in Xinjiang.

A week after the attack, the Hotan prefecture government said in a statement that 100 million yuan (U.S. $14.5 million) had been set aside to reward would-be tipsters reporting “suspicious” acts possibly linked to terrorism.

A second announcement, issued Feb. 28 by the Chira (Cele) county government, said those who report individuals for having “stitched the ‘star and crescent moon’ insignia on their clothing or personal items” or the words “East Turkestan”—referring to the name of a short-lived Uyghur republic—on their mobile phone case, purse or other jewelry, were also eligible for cash payments.

China has vowed to crack down on what it calls religious extremism in Xinjiang, and regularly conducts “strike hard” campaigns including police raids on Uyghur households, restrictions on Islamic practices, and curbs on the culture and language of the Uyghur people, including videos and other material.

While China blames Uyghur extremists for terrorist attacks, experts outside China say Beijing has exaggerated the threat from the Uyghurs and that repressive domestic policies are responsible for an upsurge in violence there that has left hundreds dead since 2009.

Reported by Jilil Kashgary for RFA’s Uyghur Service. Translated by Mamatjan Juma. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

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House church raids, such as this one in
Guizhou Province, are common in
China. (Photo: ChinaAid)

(Shenzhen, Guangdong—April 3, 2017) According to local Christians, police officers recently raided two house churches in China’s southern Guangdong province.

More than 10 government personnel interrupted a group of Christians praying at Olive Church on March 19 and accused the congregation of lacking legal registration and conducting religious activities. About 20 of the church members were detained and released later that day.

Previously, authorities confiscated various articles of Olive Church property and seized 30 of its members, including leaders Jiang Jianping and Tan Xiuhong, during a raid on July 10, 2016. Of those later released, four were administratively detained.

Similarly, the public security and religious affairs bureaus combined forces to target Huaqiangbei Bible Guizheng Church in Shenzhen, Guangdong. Officers confiscated the church’s possessions here as well. In response, the church’s meetings have fractured to several satellite locations for members’ safety.

ChinaAid exposes abuses such as those experienced by churches in Guangdong in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.

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The gate of Changlin Church lies
in ruin after authorities demolished
it. (Photo: ChinaAid)

(Wenzhou, Zhejiang—April 2, 2017) The government in China’s coastal Zhejiang Province recently ordered surveillance equipment to be installed in churches, allowing them to easily monitor church activities.

At the beginning of March, authorities in Zhejiang demanded that Three-Self Churches install surveillance cameras and have been dispatching officials to forcibly set up the devices if the order meets with refusal. Officially, the reasoning for the cameras are “safety” and “anti-terrorism” precautions. They also said they would take into account whether or not the church had previously resisted cross demolitions during a province-wide campaign and would send more agents to the site if it had.

From March 21-24, hundreds of police officers converged on Changlin Church in Wenzhou, Zhejiang, in order to carry out this task, beating any Christians who resisted their efforts. A local Christian said the church members questioned why they needed additional surveillance since Three-Self Churches are already heavily monitored and policed by the government. Some Christian women stationed themselves outside the church, fearing a possible church demolition, and were seized for their resistance, then released once the cameras were set up. Officials also destroyed the church’s reception desk and other parts of the building, including the church’s gate in order to get in.

On March 23, Shengai Church in Pingyang County, Wenzhou, issued a statement accusing the government of violating the privacy, disrupting the internal affairs of religious organizations, and breaking laws by installing the cameras. The church claimed the government had no legal basis for these actions, saying that it needs to obtain the permission of the church or would otherwise result in an abuse of power and religious freedom.

ChinaAid exposes abuses such as those experienced by churches in Zhejiang in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.

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Christians who gather in house
churches such as this one are often
detained. (Photo: ChinaAid)

(Langzhong, Sichuan—April 1, 2017) More than 20 police officers from China’s southwestern Sichuan Province recently detained 15 Christians for attending a Bible study.

Authorities broke into a church in mid-March and took into custody 15 Christians who had gathered for a Bible study. Officers accused them of illegally gathering and “gathering a crowd to disturb public order,” and detained them for 15 days. Additionally, they confiscated church seating, projectors, and air conditioning equipment.

Li Ming, a pastor of another local house church, Langzhong Church, reported that the authorities had also repeatedly targeted his congregation. For the past several Christmases, authorities seized Christians who worshipped at the church because they refused to meet at the official Three-Self Church. Last year, a woman surnamed Liang was detained for 15 days, and all of the church’s property was taken away.

Langzhong Church has been serially targeted. In April 2003, 20 police officers banned the church for “illegally gathering” and took 17 people into police custody, six of whom they administratively detained, including Li. On December 25, 2011, government personnel sprayed about 200 Christians with tear gas, and many were hospitalized. Afterwards, the church members tried to sue the public security bureau, but the local court refused to file the case.

ChinaAid exposes abuses such as those experienced by church members in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.

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Xu Lei
(Photo: ChinaAid)

(Guangzhou, Guangdong—March 31, 2017) A court in China’s southern Guangdong Province sentenced a Christian who had printed Christian literature to 10 months in prison and handed him a fine on Monday.

On March 27, the judge presiding over the case of Christian book printer Li Hongmin proclaimed that he had committed a “grave crime” but pronounced a 10-month sentence and a 10,000 Yuan [$1,451.00 USD] fine, which he deemed a “lenient” punishment. According to the judge, the sentence was reduced because Li confessed to his crime and his wife submitted a written document describing the family’s harsh financial condition.

The sentence is to be counted retroactively, as Li has been in police custody since June 2, 2016. His release is scheduled for April 1.

Despite the court’s claim that Li was penitent, his wife, Xu Lei has maintained her husband’s innocence throughout his incarceration, even traveling to Beijing before his sentencing to petition higher authorities. However, a local government in Honghu, Hubei, where Li is registered as a permanent resident, sent agents to intercept her and persuade her to return home, saying the case would be further investigated.

Additionally, arbitrarily arrested Chinese prisoners are often coerced into admit to their charges, nullifying the validity of their confessions.

Li’s lawyer, Liu Peifu, said the sentencing met their expectations and said his client did not plan to appeal, since he will be out soon.

Last year, Li was taken into police custody when officials raided both his residence and his printing facility and discovered 110,000 copies of Christian literature, which Li had produced himself. They accused him of “illegal business operations.” The court held two court hearings to address his case, one on October 17 and another on Jan. 5, where officials asked more questions about the church Li attends, the serially persecuted Guangfu Church, than they did about the selling of the books.

Xu is also being forced to move out of her apartment on March 31, one day before her husband’s release on April 1.

ChinaAid reports abuses such as those suffered by Li and his family in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.

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Shi Xinhong (top left) studies the Bible with a group of other
Christians. (Photo: ChinaAid)

(Beijing—March 30, 2017) Two Christian women were administratively detained in Beijing earlier this month, after they had travelled to spread the Gospel and pray over the proceedings of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. Both women were later criminally detained after being returned to their separate home provinces.

Shi Xinhong, a Christian from Bengbu, Anhui Province, travelled to the capital with her companion, Zhou Jinxia of Dalian, Liaoning. Zhou, who was not detained by police, told ChinaAid’s reporter that she and Shi entered The Great Hall of the People at approximately 10 a.m. on March 5. The two women were walking separately, and while Zhou made it through, police cut off Shi and took her away.

The next day, Shi received an eight-day administrative detention, charged with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” She was deported back to Anhui, where she served her administrative detention in the Guzhen County Police Station.

At the end of her administrative detention on March 14, however, rather than being released, she was criminally detained. Her family was not allowed to see her when they went to pick her up and were told that she had been transferred to a different detention center.

The family discovered she was in the Second Detention Center of Bengbu only after Shi was able to borrow a phone and call them from inside. Despite protocols, the detention center itself never issued any kind of notification regarding Shi’s arrival, though they did confirm that she was being held there when asked directly.

Zhou, Shi’s companion in Beijing, said she had heard of another Christian woman from the Jilin Province who was detained at The Great Hall of the People at around the same time as Shi. This Christian was later discovered to be Chang Shulan, a woman Zhou and Shi had met during their time in the nation’s capital.

Chang, much like Shi, was first administratively detained for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” then sent back to Jilin, where she was criminally detained on March 16 rather than being released.

ChinaAid reports on the wrongful detentions of Christians like Shi Xinhong and Chang Shulan in order to expose abuses by the Chinese government against its citizens.

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29 March 2017

■ A prominent Taiwanese human rights advocate has been detained in China and is under investigation on suspicion of harming national security, the Chinese government has said.

It is the first official comment about Lee Ming-che since he went missing in southern China earlier in March.

Mr Lee - a regular visitor to China - went missing after
entering the semi-autonomous Chinese territory of Macau on
19 March
Mr Lee is in good health, officials say. No details have been released about where he is being held.

He specialises in promoting human rights and democracy on social media.

The BBC's John Sudworth in Beijing says that his detention fits a pattern of increasing intolerance in China of human rights and civil society activists, including those based overseas.

Earlier this week China banned a visiting professor - a Chinese national but with permanent Australian residency - from leaving the country, apparently because of his human rights research.

Mr Lee - a regular visitor to China - went missing after entering the semi-autonomous Chinese territory of Macau on 19 March. He failed to attend a meeting later that day with a friend across the border in mainland China.

Taiwan said China's failure to release details about Mr Lee was
casing "anxiety and panic" to his family - his wife is third
from the right AP
"Regarding Lee Ming-che's case, because he is suspected of pursing activities harmful to national security, the investigation into him is being handled in line with legal procedures," Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang said.

Friends and supporters of Mr Lee say the authorities may have been alerted after he used the social media platform WeChat as a forum to debate China-Taiwan relations.

Taiwan's governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said over the weekend that China's failure to release details about Mr Lee was causing "anxiety and panic" to his family. It demanded better protection for Taiwanese people in China.

Mr Ma insisted however that said Taiwanese people coming to China for "normal" activities did not have anything to worry about.

China has been accused by rights groups of numerous
arbitrary detentions EPA
"The mainland has rule of law," he said. "On this point, Taiwan compatriots can rest at ease."

Relations between the two countries have deteriorated over the last year, mainly because China is resentful of the DPP's traditional support for Taiwanese independence.

China strictly curtails freedom of speech and is frequently criticised by rights groups for arbitrary detentions, official brutality, widespread corruption, a lack of transparency, a pliant judiciary and little in the way of democracy.

It is also extremely sensitive to criticism and has cracked down on domestic critics.

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Yang Hua
(Photo: China Aid)
China Aid

(Guiyang, Guizhou—March 28, 2017) A church pastor incarcerated in China’s southern Guizhou province was admitted to the hospital in serious condition Friday.

Wang Hongwu unexpectedly witnessed three detainees carrying her husband, imprisoned house church pastor Yang Hua, out of a vehicle on March 20, when she was accompanying his lawyer to meet with him. He had just returned from the hospital, and she said that he was doubled over and shrieking in pain. His lawyer later reported he appeared nearly paralyzed.

Three days before the meeting, inflamed ulcers appeared on Yang’s legs and spread rapidly, robbing him of the ability to sleep. The doctors at the detention center initially told him that they were pus sores and only gave him painkillers, the lack of treatment allowing the disease to spread.

On the afternoon of March 23, a prosecutor from the Nanming District Court informed Yang’s lawyers of his condition and advised them to apply for measures that would allow Yang to receive treatment at another hospital to avoid further complications.

Yang was sent to the hospital on March 24, where he was diagnosed with anaphylactoid purpura, a condition that targets blood vessels in the kidneys, intestines, joints, and skin. The doctor Wang consulted also said she should be aware of the possibility of several side effects, including septicemia, digestive tract hemorrhaging, and kidney damage. She was informed that Yang is in grave condition, and she penned a letter calling out for urgent prayer on his behalf, which can be read below.

As result, his lawyers wrote to the local procuratorate, questioning whether it was necessary to keep Yang in detention and requesting that he be released on medical bail. According to an article written by China Change, the judge in charge of the case must be consulted for that decision.

Yang, also known under his legal name Li Guozhi, was initially incarcerated on Dec. 9, 2015, when police took him into custody after resisting officials’ attempts to destroy a church hard drive. He was initially charged with “the crime of obstructing justice” and “gathering a crowd to disturb public order” and handed two consecutive, five-day administrative detention sentences; however, when Wang came to collect him on Dec. 20, 2015, she saw him wearing a hood and being forced into an unlicensed vehicle. Upon inquiry, she learned that he was transferred to criminal detention on the charge of “illegally possessing state secrets.”

On Jan. 22, 2016, the procuratorate formalized Yang’s arrest, and his charge was changed to “divulging state secrets.”

For more than a year, authorities held Yang without trial, subjecting him to torture and threatening his family members, both of which were carried out by the prosecutors assigned to his case. His requests that the prosecutors be excluded from his trial were ignored. He was tried on Dec. 26, and, in an act described by China Aid president Bob Fu as “nothing but purely barbaric religious persecution,” sentenced to two years and six months in prison on Jan. 5.

China Aid reports abuses, such as those experienced by Yang Hua, in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.

Letter for Prayers of Intercession

Thanks to our gracious Lord, I could meet with Yang Hua on March 24. I was accompanying the lawyer who would soon visit him at the detention center, but I ran into him right in front of the gate of the institution. He had just returned from the provincial hospital. It was the first time we had met in the span of one year, three months, and 15 days. Yang Hua descended slowly from the patrol vehicle with the help of another prisoner. His already hunched back arched even more because of leg pain. We only had time to exchange a few words before he was brought back into the detention center. After conversing with Yang Hua (I had to wait outside during their meeting), the lawyer informed me that Yang Hua would be transferred to the Guiyang 368 Armed Police Hospital and receive treatment, and that I could go see him one more time. Running toward him, I heard the officer yelling “Who is Li Guozhi’s family member?” I answered him, got in the patrol vehicle, and arrived at the Guiyang 368 Armed Police Hospital.

The chief physician told me about Yang Hua’s condition, that the provincial hospital diagnosed him with anaphylactoid purpura. I noticed that Yang Hua’s lower limbs were covered with measles and necrotic dots. His shinbones were full of huge patches of necrosis and effusion, and his feet and ankles were swollen. The doctor also told me that Yang Hua would receive a large amount of hormonal therapy and anti-inflammatory treatments, because the disease was ferocious and deteriorated in only eight days. The hospital delivered a notice of critical condition and told me to be aware of a series of possible side effects: septicemia, alimentary tract hemorrhaging, and kidney damage.

My heart stirred after hearing all of these things. I developed more worries and concerns.

During our brief reunion, Yang Hua told me, “Don’t worry. God is pulling the strings. I am at peace. We haven’t seen each other in a year and three months, but you haven’t changed at all.”

I smiled and answered him, “You haven’t changed either, except that your back is more hunched.”

Thank the Lord for alleviating my sorrows and putting peace in my heart. Although I had not seen Yang Hua for more than a year (we were never parted for more than two months before he was arrested), it all felt like yesterday when he was standing in front of me. No tears. No hysteria. We looked deeply at each other in divine serenity. Although worried, I could still face Yang Hua with joy and tranquility with God’s support.

When we were about to separate, Yang Hua said, “Don’t forget to tell the brothers and sisters to pray for me.”

I answered, “Of course.”

He was again taken away before my eyes.

Lord, I will entrust him to you. From now on, you will be the only one accompanying him, I prayed in my heart.

God’s servant: Wang Hongwu
March 25

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The Washington Post
By Editorial Board March 25

■ Frustrated by China’s relentless crackdown on civil society and human rights, Western governments have lately adopted the tactic of drawing up joint communications to Beijing. Last year the United States joined in at least two such initiatives, a declaration at the United Nations Human Rights Council and a letter raising concerns about new Chinese laws on cybersecurity, counterterrorism and nongovernment organizations. The appeals haven’t stopped repression by the regime of Xi Jinpeng, but they have at least embarrassed it, and forced senior officials to respond.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and State of Secretary Rex
Tillerson meet in Beijing on March 19.
(Thomas Peter/Associated Press)
On Feb. 27, a new letter was dispatched to the Minister of Public Security, Guo Shengkun, on the vital subject of the torture and secret detention of a number of human rights lawyers. It was signed by 11 governments, including Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Australia and Japan. But from China’s point of view, the big news was the signature that was missing — that of the United States. Whether intentional or not, it was another signal that the Trump administration will play down human rights in its foreign policy, granting a free pass to regimes it regards as allies or with which it hopes to cut deals.

Such a policy can only mean more persecution of brave people like Xie Yang, one of the subjects of the new letter. Mr. Xie, who was arrested in 2015, provided his lawyers in January with a detailed account of the torture he has been subjected to, including repeated beatings and threats to his family. The letter called for an independent investigation into “credible claims of torture” against Mr. Xie and fellow lawyers Li Heping, Wang Quanzhang and Li Chunfu, according to the Toronto Globe and Mail, which first reported on the missive last week.

Beijing’s response to the letter exploited the Trump administration’s own rhetoric. As the Globe and Mail reported, in the days after it was sent state media published articles describing Mr. Xie’s allegations of torture as “fake news.” The state news agency Xinhua called them “cleverly orchestrated lies.”

In fact, the State Department itself documented cases of torture and illegal detention in its latest human rights report, saying China was guilty of “illegal detentions at unofficial holding facilities . . . torture and coerced confessions of prisoners and detention and harassment of journalists, lawyers, writers, bloggers, dissidents, petitioners and others.” But that report was drawn up by State’s professional staff, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson chose not to make a press appearancewhen it was released earlier this month.

In a visit to Beijing last weekend Mr. Tillerson said he had “made clear that the United States will continue to advocate for universal values such as human rights and religious freedom.” So why not support a concrete appeal drafted by America’s closest democratic allies? A State Department official told us that the inaction was mainly the result of timing; Mr. Tillerson had just taken office and quick action was difficult. But it’s doubtful that China’s leaders — or the courageous lawyers suffering torture — interpreted it that way.

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