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Gu Yuese
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(Hangzhou, Zhejiang—July 25, 2017) In one of China’s most prominent religious persecution cases in the last 30 years, the pastor of the country’s largest official mega-church fired one of his lawyers on July 16, triggering speculations that the dismissal may have come as a result of official manipulation.

Zhang Peihong, one of the attorneys representing imprisoned Chinese pastor Gu Yuese, received a notice on July 13 telling him to promptly arrive at the court at 9:15 a.m. on July 20 for a pre-trial meeting. Three days after the notification, he received a letter from Gu, in which he detailed that “the last thing I want is to get you involved because of me. I do not want you to lose your freedom for me. Therefore, you do not need to defend me in Hangzhou. I am very grateful for what you have done for me.”

A ChinaAid reporter reached out to Gu’s other lawyer, Xie Bingbing, but did not get a response.

One Christian suspects that authorities might have bribed Gu with promises of a suspended sentence in order to get him to fire Zhang.

On Jan. 18, 2016, Gu became the highest profile case of Christian persecution since the Cultural Revolution when the Zhejiang Provincial China Christian Council, a local branch of one of China’s two official Christian organizations, ousted him from his position as senior pastor of Chongyi Church, China’s largest state-run church, and criminally detained him on falsified embezzlement charges. At the time, Gu was serving as the chairman of the organization. On Feb. 6, 2016, the local procuratorate approved his arrest, and his ordination was revoked, along with his leadership and membership to the Zhejiang Provincial China Christian Council. He was granted a one-year bail term on March 31, 2016, but he was re-arrested on the same charge on Jan. 7, 2017.

Gu’s charge came as a result of his open disapproval of a cross demolition campaign that ravaged the province.

At this time, ChinaAid has yet to receive details on Gu’s pre-trial.

ChinaAid exposes abuses, such as those suffered by Gu Yuese, in order to promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.

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Christian students gather at a church-
run summer camp.
(Photo: ChinaAid)

(Hangzhou, Zhejiang—July 21, 2017) As China clamps down on the freedoms of its state-run churches, officials in the country’s eastern Zhejiang province have recently issued orders aimed at closing Sunday schools and keeping children from Christian events over the summer months.

“For a long time, teenagers and students have not been allowed to participate in religious activities,” a local Christian surnamed Zhang said, referencing a Chinese law that seeks to control religion among children by forbidding them from attending religious events. “However, the Three-Self Churches and house churches would usually hold summer camps during the summer vacation. The government then emphasized … that even the Sunday schools would be closed down. The government’s major intention is to shut down the Sunday schools.”

This crackdown comes in the wake of a recent order from the Henan Provincial Three-Self Patriotic Committee and the Henan Provincial China Christian Council arbitrarily forbidding churches from organizing summer camps for minors and students, citing high temperatures as a possible health risk. A Christian from Henan said the government’s behavior is atypical, since such camps have been allowed in previous summers, and the government would originally only interfere if they received a tip-off about the event.

Likewise, Zhang argued, “The government is trying to control ideology. During [Chinese Presidents] Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao’s time, the government was tolerant toward preaching and missionary work. After Xi Jinping came into power, the government’s grip on religion has strengthened.”

In order to further their control, the Nanyang Municipal Religious Affairs Bureau, located in Henan, ordered all 20,000 registered house church members in the province to join the Three-Self Church. Many Chinese Christians disagree with the Three-Self Church based on theological discrepancies and rampant government censorship, making the forced merging of these two branches a violation of religious freedom.

Additionally, Henan has recently begun making Three-Self Churches seek approval for all large-scale religious activities.

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

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The Christian Post
By Stoyan Zaimov
Jul 19, 2017 | 1:34 pm

■ A top Chinese government official has said that members of the ruling Communist Party must abandon any religious beliefs they hold for Marxist atheism.

"Party members should not have religious beliefs, which is a red line for all members. ... Party members should be firm Marxist atheists, obey Party rules and stick to the Party's faith ... they are not allowed to seek value and belief in religion," Wang Zuoan, director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, wrote in an article for the CPC Central Committee, as reported by China's Global Times on Tuesday.

Wang further argued that Communist Party members shouldn't get involved in religious affairs, and that the government needs to maintain its tight grip on religious groups.

A paramilitary policeman stands guard in front of the Great
Hall of the People at the Tiananmen Square ahead of a
planery session of the National People's Congress (NPC) in
Beijing, China, March 12, 2017. Reuters/Damir Sagolja
"We should guide religious groups and individuals with socialist core values and excellent traditional Chinese culture and support religious groups to dig into their doctrines to find parts that are beneficial to social harmony and development," he added.

"Some foreign forces have used religion to infiltrate China, and extremism and illegal religious activities are spreading in some places, which have threatened national security and social stability."

Wang's narrative fits with what several persecution watchdog groups have warned is happening in China, in terms of the government's crackdown on churches and believers.

For the past several years Communist Party authorities have arrested hundreds of pastors and Christian activists who've protested against forced church demolitions. Christian gatherings have also been accused of being a national security risk.

Freedom House estimated in March that as many as 100 million people, including Protestant Christians, are facing "high" or "very high" levels of persecution at the hands of the atheistic government.

Tibetan Buddhists, Uighur Muslims, and Falun Gong practitioners were also said to be severely targeted for their faith.

Bob Fu of the nonprofit group China Aid previously told The Christian Post that the Chinese government fears the rise of the Christian population, which is subjected to severe persecution, and has been arresting those who speak out against its authority.

The Communist Party openly promotes its athistic beliefs and released an 11-minute propaganda video called "What If Atheism Is a Religion?" to its Youth League back in May.

The video largely mocks Christian beliefs, and positions that is was humans, and not God, who saved the world.

Commenting on the video, International Christian Concern wrote at the time: "Christianity is growing at exponential rates in China and there are more believers than ever now."

ICC added: "The fact that the video portrays atheism as a religion in itself could be a sign that China's government sees it is losing the battle against religion, and may represent a new approach to to counteracting Christianity's growth."

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Anthony Kuhn

July 18, 2017 3:09 pm ET

■ "Liu Xia is free."

A Chinese official made this assertion to allay concerns that the widow of prominent Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who died July 13, remains under house arrest — as she has been for most of the time since her husband was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.

In a photo provided Saturday by the Shenyang Municipal
Information Office, Liu Xia, center, the widow of Chinese
dissident Liu Xiaobo, holds a portrait of him during his
funeral. She stands with Liu Hui, her younger brother (left)
and Liu Xiaoxuan, the younger brother of her late husband, who
is holding his cremated remains. AP
"We want Liu Xia to avoid more trouble," added the official, Shenyang city government spokesman Zhang Qingyang, speaking at a press briefing on Saturday. But he did not specify her whereabouts. "I believe the relevant departments will protect Liu Xia's rights according to the law," he told reporters.

As far as many of her family, friends and supporters are concerned, Liu Xia is missing — probably still in custody and under surveillance of authorities, if not under house arrest. Foreign journalists who went looking for her in recent days say they were harassed by plainclothes security officials.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee "is deeply worried about Liu Xia's situation in the aftermath of her husband's tragic death," Olav Njoelstad, the secretary of the committee, told Reuters."We call upon Chinese authorities to lift all restrictions they have put upon her. If she wants to leave China, there is no justification for denying her the opportunity to do so."

The struggle to control Liu Xiaobo's memory continues even after his death, critics say. Official statements such as Zhang's are merely "part of the authorities' very grotesque manipulation of the narrative" of Liu's death, says Maya Wang, a Hong Kong-based researcher with Human Rights Watch.

And his widow is likely to remain a key part of the struggle. A picture of Liu Xia released by the Shenyang government shows her with a shaved head, wearing black clothes and sunglasses, looking down at a picture of her husband after his death.

Although Liu Xia is a prisoner of the state, Wang says she has never been convicted of any crime. Her continued house arrest, Wang says, "is unlawful, and it follows the Chinese government's long tradition of punishing family members for the crimes of activists."

A visitor looks at Liu Xia's photograph of her husband Liu
Xiaobo holding a doll, during the 2012 "Silent Strength of Liu
Xia" exhibition in Hong Kong. The photographer, painter and
poet has been under house arrest for most of the time since
her husband was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010.
Kin Cheung/AP
Wang says this tradition of punishment is meant to keep activists from communicating via their relatives, and to pressure the activists themselves to repent and change their errant ways.

But Liu died unrepentant in a hospital in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang, with his wife reportedly by his side. The Nobel laureate had been diagnosed with late-stage liver cancer in May and was on medical parole while serving an 11-year sentence for subversion. The couple had only seen each other intermittently during his time in prison.

The Chinese government rejected foreign governments' calls for him to be treated overseas, calling them meddling in China's internal affairs, but allowed two foreign doctors to examine Liu in China.

Liu was cremated and his ashes were scattered in the sea on Saturday, something the government insists was done in accordance with his family's wishes. Liu Xiaobo's older brother, Liu Xiaoguang, thanked the government and Communist Party at Saturday's press conference, because, he told reporters, "Everything they have done for our family shows a high level of humanity and personal care to us."

Liu's supporters, though, say the government was trying to avoid leaving a grave or other place where Liu could be commemorated.

Liu Xia held a photo of herself and her husband during an
interview at her home in Beijing in December 2012.
Ng Han Guan/AP
Liu Xia, a painter, poet and photographer who'd earlier worked as a Beijing civil servant, met Liu Xiaobo when he was an acerbic literary critic and university lecturer in Beijing in the 1980s.

He played a leading role in the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy movement. He led students on a hunger strike, and later negotiated with troops to let some students exit the square safely, preventing more possible bloodshed after soldiers opened fire on protesters.

The couple married in 1996, while Liu was serving a sentence in a labor camp — his second of four incarcerations.

His fourth and final prison stint started in 2009, after his participation in the Charter 08 movement calling for democratic reforms and an end to one-party rule in China.

In a 2009 interview, Liu Xia told me she had always feared her husband's involvement in that movement would end badly.

"I told him that if they arrest anyone first, it will be you," she recalled. "If they search anyone's home, it'll be ours, and if anyone goes to jail to visit you, it'll be me. I said, I'm so sick of passing the days that way."

Friends say Liu Xia's isolation during her years of house arrest threw her into a deep depression.

In 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared that Liu Xia's house arrest was in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and called for her immediate release.

Liu Xia spoke during an October 2009 press conference in
Beijing. The Asahi Shimbun/via Getty Images
Liu Xiaobo's final wish to be given medical treatment outside China, friends say, was largely motivated by his hope that his wife might finally be liberated. In a letter he wrote in his final days, he praised the "unique wilderness of [her] creativity" and expressed regret "that I still have not been able to hold an exhibition of her work."

Wang of Human Rights Watch says that the state's treatment of Liu was designed to send a message to other dissidents — "that the state can crush you at will, and will make you pay a very serious price, including your life and your family's well-being."

Having gone to such great lengths, Beijing is hardly likely to show Liu Xia any more leniency now.

"We hope that foreign governments will step up from now on" to press for Liu Xia's release, Wang says. "But I think the trend so far does not seem very promising."

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Li Wanhua (second from right) and Ruan Haonan (second
from left) were released on bail on July 13. (Photo: ChinaAid)

(Jiangmen, Guangdong—July 19, 2017) Authorities in China’s southern Guangdong province released two wrongly charged Christians on one-year bail terms on Thursday.

After being held arbitrarily for a month on falsified cult charges, Li Wanhua, the pastor of Fengle Church, and a member of his congregation, Ruan Haonan, were allowed to return home on one-year bail periods.

The persecution began when officials banned “Mengai House,” which hosts Christian events affiliated with Fengle Church at Ruan’s home. Because of his role in “Mengai House,” authorities took Ruan into custody for “organizing and using an evil cult to sabotage law enforcement.” The next day, the police tried to coerce Ruan to sign a document stating he participated in cult activities. Ruan refused, and he was criminally detained.

On June 14, government personnel seized Li and criminally detained him on the same charge.

The same day, Domestic Security Protection Bureau interrogated Ruan and Li for five hours. At the end of the questioning, an official asked Li if he had any requests, and Li asked to be able to hire a lawyer. The official told him he was not permitted to hire a lawyer and said that an attorney would be provided by the government if necessary. Li pointed out that this was a violation of his rights to a lawyer, which Chinese law guarantees.

After detaining Li, authorities confiscated 12 of his copies of the Bible, 48 copies of the Psalms, and more than 1,000 posters.

During the year that Li and Ruan will be on bail, they are required to report every three months to the public security bureau and obtain permission before traveling.

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

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The Economist
Print edition | Obituary
Jul 15th 2017

■ The man who called himself “Doomsday’s survivor” died on July 13th, aged 61

“I HAVE no enemies and no hatred,” Liu Xiaobo told a court in Beijing during his trial for subversion in 2009. Hatred, he said, “can rot away at a person’s intelligence and conscience”. He had every reason to despise the government; he was about to go to jail for simply petitioning for democracy in China and asking people to sign up. But the forgiveness he offered was never reciprocated by the Communist Party. Officials did not allow him to pick up the Nobel peace prize he won a year later, as the “foremost symbol”—in the Nobel committee’s words—of the struggle for human rights in China.

He not only made an enemy of the government, but also riled fellow intellectuals and activists with his acerbic, rough, often coarse, observations of their weaknesses. As a writer and lecturer, deeply read in both Chinese and Western philosophy, from the 1980s he tirelessly attacked China’s boring cultural consensus. He saw himself as a Nietzschean lone wolf, a nihilist, even a renegade, a stammering loner who would stand out from the crowd and shout; but there ought to be room for him, he thought, and people like him.

He scorned those who watched from the sidelines as pro-democracy unrest erupted across China in 1989, and could not wait to get back from America, where he had a fellowship at Columbia, to join in. It was his moral duty to do so, as it was to chastise student protesters in Tiananmen Square for their lack of democracy. A day before the troops moved in, he and three other intellectuals began a hunger strike in the square as an act of individual repentance, lamenting the student movement’s lack of efficiency. When young people got into politics, he had grumbled earlier, it was too often superficial, just a crowd reaction. True liberation for the Chinese would come only when people learned to live and think for themselves: to be personally brave and free. The hunger strike was a bid not for death, but for “true life”.

He stayed in the square to the end, helping to persuade the occupying students to accept a deal to withdraw. That probably saved many lives. A few months later, in prison, he again angered fellow activists by saying, on state television, that he had seen no one killed at Tiananmen. He was scorned for seeming to lend credence to the party’s propaganda. Yet he was just telling it as it was, with his usual blistering honesty. Most of the bloodshed had indeed occurred outside the square itself.

He spent 19 months in prison for his role in the Tiananmen protests. Eventually he was convicted of “counter-revolutionary incitement and propaganda”, but was released for encouraging the students to withdraw. He was quick to resume his provocations, his habit of “crashing into brick walls”. His “Monologues of a Doomsday Survivor” (1992) attacked students who had fled to America. Those damned people who ran away overseas, he co-wrote, had no right to comment on his behaviour.

The lonely forerunner
Pessimistic by nature, gloomy about mankind’s future in general, he might have been referring to any sort of doomsday. But the one he meant was communism’s. It was easy then to imagine a world free of it. China’s party was still clinging to power, but many others had collapsed; China’s would follow, he believed, in just a few years. As a survivor of the bloody crackdown in Beijing, he had witnessed the party’s last gasp.

It was not to be. The “lonely forerunner” had to go on needling the party, struggling against the odds, petitioning for democracy and an official reassessment of Tiananmen. In 1996 he was sentenced to three years in a labour camp, emerging unbowed to go on writing about politics at his usual terrific rate. In 2008, after an explosion of unrest in Tibet (where he demanded “genuine autonomy”), he and many other intellectuals urged the government to talk to the Dalai Lama.

Later that year, to mark the 60th anniversary of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he wrote the appeal that was to land him in prison for the last time. It was inspired by Charter 77, an appeal issued by dissidents in Soviet-era Czechoslovakia in 1977. His version was called Charter 08. It demanded an end to one-party rule and a new government that embraced democracy and human rights. Hundreds signed, but the timing was bad. With the Beijing Olympics over, China no longer needed to impress visiting foreigners. Mr Liu was arrested in December 2008, two days before the charter’s release.

China scoffed at his Nobel peace prize (he was the first Chinese person still living in the country to receive a Nobel award of any kind). And it brushed off appeals for clemency from Western governments. The global financial crisis proved that the West was in decline; China’s day had come. When Xi Jinping took over as China’s leader in 2012 he cracked down even harder on dissent, and kept Mr Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, under house arrest. The party made a token gesture of sympathy at the end, allowing her to visit her husband as he faded from liver cancer, but refused to let him get treatment abroad.

His vow at his trial, to “dispel hatred with love”, cut no ice with the party. As his death approached, it mobilised an army of censors to scrub the internet of any expression of sympathy for him.

This article appeared in the Obituary section of the print edition under the headline "Doomsday's survivor"

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A sign on the campus of Renmin University of China forbidding the
on-campus practice of religion (Photo: ChinaAid)

(Henan—July 14, 2017) Under a set of new regulations taking effect this month, international students planning to attend universities in China’s central Henan province will be subjected to the censorship of their religious beliefs.

According to an article in the South China Morning Post, Henan province’s departments of education, public security, and foreign affairs announced a new set of regulations aimed at monitoring the religious beliefs of international students on June 5, which go into effect this month. The Chinese government says these new rules “regulate schools’ admission, the cultivation and management of international students and for the convenience of international students studying in schools in China,” but the regulations will ban students from practicing their religious beliefs on campus and require them to take courses in political theory as well as Chinese law, culture, and customs. This will effectively prohibit them from holding religious gatherings or preaching on school property, according to the aforementioned article.

The South China Morning Post also said the new regulations stipulate that foreign students attending institutes of higher education be assigned an instructor, echoing the “political instructors” given to Chinese students. It is unclear whether or not their roles will be similar.

This notice from the Henan Provincial Three-
Self Patriotic Church and the Henan
Provincial China Christian Council forbids
churches from organizing youth camps over
the summer. (Photo: ChinaAid)
In addition, the Henan Provincial Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee and the Henan Provincial China Christian Council—local branches of China’s two state-run Christian organizations—published a document yesterday, stating, "The temperature is very high during the summer. To conform to the country’s related legal policies on youth health, no summer camps that involve youth and students shall be organized by any church. Please stick to this notice if it differs from previous notices."

Disallowing students’ practice of religious beliefs on campus and the insistence on indoctrinating them with Chinese ideology, as well as the policing of their summer religious activities, is a severe violation of Article 36 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, which states, “No State organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion.” China should respect the individual beliefs of both citizens and foreigners and apply this guarantee equally to both.

ChinaAid exposes abuses, such as the clamping down on the religious activities of students, in order to stand in solidarity with the persecuted and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.

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George W. Bush Presidential Center
By Ioanna Papas
July 14, 2017

■ Liu Xiaobo, China’s most prominent dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner died this week. His death holds a message for Americans and for China.

Bob Fu a leader in the student democracy movement at Tiananmen Square in 1989, Christian pastor and founder of an underground church in China and former Chinese prisoner, remembers Liu’s life and the legacy that he has left behind.

Read President George W. Bush's statement

What is Liu Xiaobo’s legacy?

His legacy will be remembered as a fearless democracy advocate and leader. He was known as a literary critic in 1980 before becoming involved in the democracy and freedom movement in China. In 1989, during the student movement at Tiananmen Square he joined the protests and was able to persuade the military to back-off from the center of the square and not kill all the protestors. Of course, the military still killed Chinese citizens and students, but he was able to avert part of the massacre.

Residents of Hong Kong host a vigil service outside the
Chinese Liason Office of Hong Kong after the death of
Human Right Activist and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Liu
Xiaobo on July 13, 2017 in Hong Kong, China.
(Photo Credit: Geovien So / Barcroft Images /
He was imprisoned in 1989 for 21 months and again from 1995 to 1996 and 1996 to 1999 for his involvement in democracy. The last time he was arrested was in 2008 after he and other Chinese activists released Charter 08, modeled after the Czech Charter 77 [a 1977 document signed by dissidents calling on the communist regime in Czechoslovakia to respect fundamental human rights]. On Dec. 25, 2009, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Two weeks ago he was released from prison on medical parole and authorities announced he had late liver cancer. By the time of his release and the conditions he was treated in, it clearly showed the neglect the Chinese Government had for his medical treatment and treatment as a human. I personally feel, by the way he died and the Chinese government’s rejection of the pleas of Western democratic countries to help him seek better treatment will be very hard for other democracy advocates to follow the way he proposed a peaceful transformation. I think people’s dreams and ideals were broken.

What does Liu Xiaobo’s story say about the current political climate in China?

The hard line reaction by the Chinese regime really shows a major dynamic change in the Chinese government attitude toward the environment of human rights and religious freedoms. In the past five or four years since President Xi Jinping took power, it has been universally recognized that the level foundation of human rights and human freedom have been the worse since the end of the “cultural revolution” in the late 1970s.

China’s so called economic rise has embolden the regime. And, major democracies have helped nurture the giant tiger, which is now too big and too cruel to control. The tiger can now bite back. It’s not just Chinese dissidents in prison, there are many American citizens and residents of other countries as well.

Why should Americans know about Liu Xiaobo and why his life work matters to us?

If we are intimidated by the Chinese regime, then we ourselves become an accomplice and treason to this dictatorship. I think we will harvest more regret and bitterness in the near future.

The real problem is the trade and business deals with China and this is now the moment of truth. We should wake up as a country and not give a brutal dictator like China a pass.

What should Americans do?

The business community needs to bear responsibility. Especially when making deals with China. You don’t need to be a human rights advocate to make a difference in China. If businesses want to set up a factory in China or make a major deal you should have the names of prisoner conscience on you and the religious prisoners. You should ask China to consider releasing these individuals as part of your business terms. Little by little this will make an impact.

Government should have paradigm shift and have a wake-up call for strategic China policy change. We are now only seeking temporary financial gains and I think that will produce more tragedy. The government needs to make the Chinese regime know that we are serious. One thing I praised President George W. Bush for was he regularly and consciously met with a number of prisoners of conscience and human rights lawyers in the white house. That sent a very strong signal and I think that should be done constituently, systematically and coherently.


Ioanna Papas

Ioanna Papas is an Editorial Manager for the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

Full Bio

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USA Today
The Editorial Board
Published 7:33 p.m. ET July 13, 2017 | Updated 8:37 p.m. ET July 13, 2017

■ Many say great heroes in the struggle for freedom have come and gone, that their martyrdom is now something for history and textbooks, figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Ghandi or Abraham Lincoln.

That's just not true.

(Photo: AP)
On Thursday, in a university hospital room in the Chinese city of Shenyang, some 400 miles northeast of Beijing, this nation of 1.4 billion people lost Liu Xiaobo, an imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate and China's most famous human rights hero. The diagnosis of Liu's liver cancer had been delayed by Chinese authorities until it was too advanced for meaningful treatment. "Can't operate, can't do radiotherapy, can't do chemotherapy," his house-arrested wife, Liu Xia, said.

Even then, the 61-year-old Liu was kept under constant guard in the hospital and denied last-minute medical transfer to advanced care in Germany or the U.S. The government of Chinese President Xi Jinping succeeded in its vigilance — and fears — at keeping Liu from speaking out, even frail and failing on his deathbed.

China has earned a terrible place in history through its actions. Nazi Germany was the last regime to hold a Nobel Peace Prize laureate in custody until death, the German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, who died of maltreatment in 1938.

The revered activist Liu had committed his life to freedom, leaving a visiting scholarship in America to join protests at Tiananmen Square in 1989, where he held a hunger strike in solidarity with students. Liu negotiated free passage out of the square after the shooting started, saving students' lives.

He spent 21 months in prison for that, losing his lecturing position. Later, despite chances to leave China, Liu remained. In 2008, he was the first to sign a brazen manifesto calling for broader freedoms in China. In response, he was sentenced in 2009 to 11 years in prison.

While he was locked away, China continued its growth into a global power under Xi's leadership. The country has become so critical on the world stage that presidents Barack Obama and Trump, with other world leaders, shrank from publicly defending Liu. Even Thursday, hours after the activist died, Trump stood before reporters praising Xi, saying he is a "great man. He's a fine person. ... He loves China. He wants to do what's right for China."

There is nothing great about an authoritarian leader who persecutes a man of peace to death. And it was Liu Xiaobo who loved China and wanted to do right by it. So powerful was his vision, that Liu would have been the first to say that his own death is merely a pause in that quest.

"I firmly believe that China's political progress will not stop," Liu said in a statement before his imprisonment. "There is no force that can put an end to the human quest for freedom, and China will in the end become a nation ruled by law, where human rights reign supreme."

On that day, China will be great.

USA TODAY's editorial opinions are decided by its Editorial Board, separate from the news staff. Most editorials are coupled with an opposing view — a unique USA TODAY feature.

To read more editorials, go to the Opinion front page or sign up for the daily Opinion email newsletter. To respond to this editorial, submit a comment to

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Senator Marco Rubio
Jul 13 2017

■ Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), issued the following statement regarding the death of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. Liu Xiaobo, at a hospital in Shenyang municipality, Liaoning province:

“The news of Liu Xiaobo’s death today is beyond tragic—for his beloved wife Liu Xia, for his family, and for the millions of supporters of his courageous efforts to champion human rights and democracy in China.

“As we mourn Liu Xiaobo’s death and pray for his family, there are urgent matters that require high-level diplomatic attention in the coming days. Dr. Liu’s family must be given his remains and permitted to honor and bury him as they see fit. Liu Xia must immediately be granted an exit visa and permitted to leave China for a country of her choosing. There should be an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding Dr. Liu’s death, his treatment in detention, the timing of the diagnosis of his late-stage liver cancer, and countless other questions that need to be answered. The Chinese authorities complicit in his unjust imprisonment and death should be immediately sanctioned and their assets frozen under the Global Magnitsky Act.

“I urge the Trump Administration to make these matters high priorities and to convey in no uncertain terms to the Chinese government that their shameful treatment of this peaceful hero, who championed the very ideals that are at the foundation of America’s own experiment in self-government, will have real and lasting consequences.”


Rubio’s earlier statement on the medical parole of Liu Xiaobo can be accessed here. His bipartisan Senate resolution urging that Dr. Liu and his wife be permitted to travel abroad to seek proper medical treatment is available here.

The CECC has been closely monitoring Liu Xiaobo’s efforts to promote democracy, his arrest, and sentencing. On December 10, 2010, Liu Xiaobo, a writer, former literature professor, human rights activist, and one of the chief authors of Charter 08, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in absentia for his “long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” He was the first Chinese national and resident in China to receive the prestigious award. However, during the awards ceremony, his chair remained empty and he was unable to claim his prize; he was serving an 11-year sentence, after being found guilty of “inciting subversion of state power.”

His wife, the artist and poet Liu Xia, was placed under illegal home confinement in Beijing shortly after the Nobel Committee’s announcement of the prize in October 2010. She remains there almost seven years later, despite never having been charged with a crime. Troubling reports indicate that her health has deteriorated during her years of arbitrary confinement.

Earlier this year, the CECC launched an initiative called “Free China’s Heroes,” in which individual political prisoners were highlighted to raise awareness about the specifics of their cases and the status of their unjust imprisonment. Liu Xiaobo, who was initially detained seven years ago on December 8, 2008, was the first prisoner featured. His case is also part of the Commission’s Political Prisoner Database (PPD) that contains searchable records on more than 1,400 political and religious prisoners currently known or believed to be detained or imprisoned in China.

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By Chris Buckley
July 13, 2017

■ Liu Xiaobo’s Fate Reflects Fading Pressure on China Over Human Rights

BEIJING — Liu Xiaobo, China’s only Nobel Peace Prize laureate, catapulted to fame in 1989, when the Communist Party’s violent crackdown on protests in Tiananmen Square created an international uproar.

Now, nearly three decades later, Mr. Liu has died of cancer while in state custody, a bedridden and silenced example of Western governments’ inability, or reluctance, to push back against China’s resurgent authoritarians.

Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate who died
of cancer while in state custody, was mourned in Hong Kong
on Thursday. Kin Cheung/Associated Press
Mr. Liu’s fate reflects how human rights issues have receded in Western diplomacy with China. And it shows how Chinese Communist Party leaders, running a strong state bristling with security powers, can disdain foreign pleas, even for a man near death.

“It’s certainly become more difficult,” said John Kamm, an American businessman and founder of the Dui Hua Foundation, who for decades has quietly lobbied China to free or improve the treatment of political prisoners. He said his attempts to win approval for Mr. Liu to leave China for treatment, as Mr. Liu and his wife requested, got nowhere.

“I tried my best. I did everything I could,” he said before Mr. Liu died. “Things are pretty difficult right now. It’s hard for me to get the kinds of responses I need.”

These days, major Western governments struggle to get responses from China about prisoners and conditions in Tibet and Xinjiang. Many Western politicians have also become less willing to dwell on human rights problems when other issues — North Korea, trade and investment, terrorism, climate change, cybersecurity — fill their meetings with Chinese officials, said rights advocates and experts.

The United States, Germany and other Western governments did politely prod China to release Mr. Liu from prison and let him go abroad for treatment of his liver cancer, accompanied by his wife, Liu Xia.

A spokesman for Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, issued a statement that “she would like a signal of humanity for Liu Xiaobo and his family,” while President Trump said nothing publicly about his case, leaving any comment to lower-ranking officials.

Ms. Merkel’s statement was a reflection of how the world order has shifted, with the United States under Mr. Trump departing from its traditional role as the most vocal advocate of human rights.

Still, Mr. Kamm and others said the shift came many years before Mr. Trump entered the White House in January.

“I do not think that the world prior to Jan. 20, 2017, was one rife with robust, consistent diplomatic intervention on behalf of peaceful, independent civil society in China,” said Sophie Richardson, the China director of Human Rights Watch. “Taken together, particularly over the 2000s and into the 2010s, you have got progressively less interest on foreign governments in really fighting as hard as they ought to have for systemic change in China.”

In Mr. Liu’s case, Chinese officials have dismissed calls by Western governments as meddling.

Beijing issued video and still images of Mr. Liu in a hospital in northeast China, as if to say: We don’t need lectures about how to take care of our prisoners. Beijing ignored advice from a German and an American cancer specialist who visited Mr. Liu, at its invitation, and who said he was well enough to travel for treatment.Photo

“If Xiaobo, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was able to win some freedom for half a month — or two weeks or four days or half a day — and could speak out after eight years of silence, that would be intolerable for the government,” said Wu Yangwei, a writer who uses the pen name Ye Du and is a friend of Mr. Liu’s. “Ten years ago, it might have been different, there might have been a little hope. But the political atmosphere has shifted.”

A torch parade in honor of Mr. Liu in Oslo on Dec. 10, 2010,
the day of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. He was
imprisoned by then, and his absence at the event was signified
by an empty chair.
Odd Andersen/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Lobbying China over its harsh prison sentences for dissent and its other shackles on citizens’ rights has never been an amicable conversation; progress has long been spotty. But Mr. Liu’s case reflects how Western pressure on China’s human rights problems has decreased, while Chinese leaders have become adept at using economic and diplomatic lures and threats to thwart it.

“China has never made major concessions to foreign pressure on human rights, but especially in the few years after Tiananmen, they did make minor concessions,” said Andrew J. Nathan, a professor of political science at Columbia University who studies China and has written about its human rights diplomacy.

“But things have changed, China is rich, and the Western powers one by one have given up officially receiving the Dalai Lama and sponsoring resolutions in Geneva that are critical of China,” Professor Nathan said, referring to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. There were exceptions, he said. “But in general, Beijing now simply pays no mind to foreign pressure.”

It didn’t seem so clear cut when Mr. Liu was detained for nearly two years in 1989, after the Chinese government called him a “black hand” who supported the student demonstrators who crowded Tiananmen Square before an armed crackdown. Back then, Communist Party leaders railed against Western-inspired subversion and imprisoned leading participants in the protests who hadn’t fled.

Yet China was more vulnerable to pressure, and sometimes made concessions.

It was the world’s ninth-biggest economy in 1989, and needed expertise, investment and technology from advanced countries to begin growing again. It did not have a wide circle of countries that would help it thwart Western sanctions and isolation. And the party general secretary and later president, Jiang Zemin, appeared eager for affirmation and even friendship from President Bill Clinton and other Western leaders.

But since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001 and its economy took off, leaders in Beijing have become increasingly set against making concessions on human rights cases. That posture has reflected China’s economic and diplomatic strength. But it has also reflected leaders’ longstanding fears that, even with robust growth, broad public support and a powerful police apparatus, they are vulnerable to political foes.

“Because the leaders are so politically insecure and the security bureaucracies so powerful, the foreign ministry diplomats can’t get any compromise except under extraordinary circumstances,” said Susan L. Shirk, a political science professor at the University of California, San Diego, who worked as deputy assistant secretary of state for policy toward China in the Clinton administration.

From 1989 to 2008, when Mr. Liu helped start Charter 08, a petition for democratic change, he and other dissenters still hoped that the Communist Party could be coaxed to give citizens greater freedoms, pushed by civic mobilization in China and encouraged by Western governments and groups. Even if there were occasional setbacks, many believed expanding market forces and a growing middle class would shape history in their direction and would make the government ultimately accept political liberalization.

“China’s economy is growing quickly, and this economic development is supportive of a political transformation,” Mr. Liu said in an interview in 2004. “China’s international environment has seen big changes, and there’d be very strong international support for its political reforms.”

But Mr. Liu was arrested in 2008 and sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2009. China’s president since 2012, Xi Jinping, has overseen an even more comprehensive crackdown on dissent, rights lawyers and independent civil groups. Mr. Liu’s supporters have not abandoned their hopes, but they see that the government has gained confidence against critics.

Mr. Kamm of the Dui Hua Foundation said he would continue to present lists of political prisoners to Chinese officials. Now he also plans to point out how the government’s treatment of Mr. Liu hurt China’s image, he said.

“I think they have taken an incredible hit on this,” Mr. Kamm said. “There are five prisoners on my list tonight that I will use this to try to get out of prison into their loved ones’ arms.”

Follow Chris Buckley on Twitter @ChuBailiang.

Adam Wu contributed research.

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Liu Xiaobo

(Shenyang, Liaoning—July 13, 2017) For the first time since the Holocaust, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate died in prison today after suffering abuse and medical neglect in China’s northeastern Liaoning province.

Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese dissident and literary critic awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his authorship of a robust piece calling for China’s political reform known as Charter 08, died of liver cancer at 6:40 p.m. China Standard Time on July 13, 2017, after Chinese authorities refused him adequate medical care while in prison.

Already weak from mistreatment, Liu’s cancer was discovered on May 24 and diagnosed as late-stage, but officials failed to release him on medical parole until June 26. Liu and his wife requested to travel abroad and consult top cancer specialists, but the Chinese government denied their cries for help and said he was too frail to travel. Instead, they brought in two doctors from the United States and Germany, who treated Liu and contradicted the travel decision, saying that he was healthy enough if the government permitted him to leave. However, the Communist Party ignored their assessment and kept Liu in the hospital until he passed away.

This is the first time a Nobel Peace Prize winner has perished after experiencing extensive abuse since Carl von Ossietzky died beneath the Nazi regime after receiving the award for making public the details of Germany’s re-armament, died of tuberculosis and the lingering effects of abuse he endured in concentration camps on May 4, 1938.

In response to the parallel circumstances, ChinaAid’s founder and president Bob Fu said:

“Are we too timid and politically correct to call today’s Chinese Communist regime a Nazi regime? What happened today is a moment of truth. I urge my friends, Senator Ted Cruz, Senator John Cornyn, and Senator Marco Rubio to work together with fellow conscientious Republicans and Democrats to pass that stalled Senate bill which will rename the street in front of the Chinese Embassy Liu Xiaobo Avenue. The House has passed the bill.”

Fu also said, “This is a fascist and murderous act, and the Chinese regime should be held accountable … It is also a shame for the Western and democratic countries today, because trade and business has surpassed life and values. If dictators are allowed to murder a Nobel laureate today, it will be too late to wake up when numerous lives of citizens in the civilized world are threated.”

Liu won the Nobel Peace Prize while imprisoned for his work on Charter 08 in 2010. When China refused to release him to receive the award in Oslo, the Nobel Committee honored him with an empty chair. A statement, written by Liu in advance of his 2009 trial and read to the Nobel ceremony by a Norwegian actress, said, “I have no enemies and no hatred.”

Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, has been held under house arrest since Liu won the prize in 2010.

ChinaAid exposes and condemns the imprisonment, abuse, medical mistreatment, and subsequent death inflicted upon Liu Xiaobo and asks that the international community hold the Chinese regime accountable for his murder and demand the immediate and unconditional release of Liu Xia.

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Zhang Shaojie
(Photo: ChinaAid stock)

Updated at 5:30 p.m. on July 17, 2017

(Xinxiang, Henan—July 12, 2017) After reports leaked that an imprisoned pastor in China’s central Henan province endured torture at the hands of his captors, his sister testified that her brother appeared fragile when she met with him on Friday and was not allowed to discuss events outside of the prison with him.

When Zhang Cuixia visited her brother, unjustly imprisoned Nanle Church pastor Zhang Shaojie, on July 7, she said he looked “…like a bag of bones,” and dark discoloration circled his eyes, prompting her to ask if he had been beaten. In reply, he said, “Do you need to be beaten to become like this?”

However, a few weeks ago, Zhang Shaojie’s daughter, Esther Zhang, penned a worried appeal, saying that officials repaid her father’s attempts to file a second court appeal with a strict torture regimen.

“He’s unable to see the sun during the day,” Esther Zhang wrote. “He’s deprived of sleep for 24 hours at a time. The prison gives him only one steamed bun a day and intentionally starves him. According to people who have been released from that prison, my father is barely alive, suffering both mentally and physically.”

During the visit, government agents monitored Zhang Cuixia and Zhang Shaojie’s conversation, limiting it to only talk about family members and praise of new policies under Communist Party leader Xi Jinping. Zhang Shaojie and Zhang Cuixia decided to subvert these restrictions, speaking highly of life inside and outside the prison and using their facial expressions to communicate that they meant the opposite.

Following their conversation, Zhang Cuixia wept.

“It’s painful to see such a good person being persecuted,” she said. “I don’t know how long he can persist.”

Additionally, she said authorities have tried to keep Zhang's lawyer from meeting with him, often telling him no one was available to talk to him. The last time he visited, he wasn't even allowed in.

Zhang Shaojie became one of the first pastors of a government-run Three-Self Church to be sentenced to 12 years in prison since the Cultural Revolution when his church became involved in a land dispute with the government in 2013. He led a group of Christians to Beijing to file a petition, but the trip angered local officials, who conspired to have him detained on Nov. 16, 2013, and charged him with “swindling” and “assembling a crowd to disturb public order” on July 4, 2014. Authorities rejected his initial appeal to overturn his sentence in August 2014.

In an official document dated May 18, 2017, the Puyang, Henan branches of China’s two state-run Christian organizations—the Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee and the China Christian Council—arbitrarily deposed 12 of the church’s clergymen, including Zhang Shaojie himself, and revoked their ordination. The other 11 church leaders were ousted because of their connections to Zhang Shaojie and their willingness to faithfully serve the church, causing the government to want to get rid of them.

Recently, Zhang's lawyer filed an appeal to have his sentence overturned.

The church, which began as a house church, was ultimately forced to subject itself to government censorship and become a Three-Self Church. The church's members also said the Nanle County Religious Affairs Bureau alleged that the church was a cult and appealed to the Henan Provincial Religious Affairs Bureau to obliterate it. The higher authorities rejected the request.

Zhang Shaojie’s decline in health is preceded by that of Nobel Peace Prize laureate and imprisoned Chinese democracy activist Liu Xiaobo, whose prison doctors ignored the signs of his late-stage liver cancer until May 24. Liu died at 6:40 p.m. today. In order to prevent another innocent man from succumbing to such cruel tactics, ChinaAid urges government officials and individuals to contact the following authorities and urge them to treat Zhang Shaojie humanely and allow him access to medical professionals outside of the prison:

Minister of Justice Zhang Jun

Phone number: +86 (10) 6515 3113

E-mail: (begin subject line with ATTN: Minister of Justice Zhang Jun)

Ambassador Cui Tiankai

Ambassador of China to the United States


Phone: +1(202) 495-2266

Ambassador Liu Jieyi

Ambassador of China to the United Nations


ChinaAid firmly condemns the Communist Party’s treatment of Zhang Shaojie and the 12 leaders of Nanle Church and exposes the abuses enacted against them in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law. Zhang Cuixia’s full statement can be read below

My name is Zhang Cuixia. I met with my younger brother, Zhang Shaojie, on July 7. As usual, I checked in at the front desk, but instead of being allowed to coming in immediately like before, the prison guard spoke a series of digits to another staff member through his intercom and asked us to wait. We finally saw my brother 40 minutes later. He was extremely skinny. He looked like a bag of bones. His eyes were deep-set with very dark circles. I asked him, “What’s wrong with your eyes? Did someone beat you?”

He replied, “Do you need to be beaten to become like this? You don’t need to be beaten to become like this.”

We were talking through the window. Three prison guards were beside us. There was also a video recorder, and our conversation was voice recorded as well. I asked him, “How have you been?” He said he was fine, but he looked at me with a wry face to tell me that he actually was not well. He couldn’t say anything against them. He was only allowed to mention the names of family members, not anything related to the church and the outside world. He asked me, “Is everything all right outside? I saw on T.V. that the government is making a lot of great policies.” We had to answer yes and tell him that everything is optimistic under President Xi’s new polices. I cried. I wanted to tell him that I was also using my facial expressions to say the opposite.

In the end, he tried to comfort me: “Don’t worry about me. God’s words have been comforting and sustaining me. We both bear the same hope.”

After this brief conversation, I burst into tears. It’s painful to see such a good person being persecuted. I don’t know how long he can persist.

Zhang Cuixia

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The New York Times
By Austin Ramzy
July 12, 2017

■ Hong Kong — The health of the Chinese Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo is worsening, with his liver, kidney and breathing functions failing, the hospital that is treating him said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

Mr. Liu, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison for organizing a pro-democracy manifesto, was told he had late-stage liver cancer in May and moved to a hospital in the northeast Chinese city of Shenyang.

A candlelight vigil for Liu Xiaobo on Wednesday outside the
Chinese Consulate in Sydney, Australia.
Steven Saphore/Reuters
The First Hospital of China Medical University said Wednesday that doctors had recommended tracheal intubation but that his family had rejected the request.

Mr. Liu’s family could not be independently reached for confirmation of his condition. His wife, Liu Xia, has been under strict house arrest since he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2010. Photos apparently released by the hospital authorities show her with her husband in the hospital.

Mr. Liu, 61, has said he wanted to be treated abroad, but his lawyer said the authorities would not let that happen. Doctors from the United States and Germany visited Mr. Liu on Saturday and said then that he could be moved, but his condition has apparently worsened.

He is experiencing septic shock and blood clotting, the hospital said.

“The patient’s condition is life threatening, and the hospital is doing everything it can to save him,” the statement said. “Family members already know the situation.”

Mr. Liu was a university lecturer and literary critic in Beijing who became a prominent figure in the 1989 Tiananmen protest movement. He organized a hunger strike in the final days of the protest, and he helped students retreat from Tiananmen Square as the military moved in. He was imprisoned afterward, the first of multiple prison terms.

In 2008 he was arrested for spearheading Charter 08, a pro-democracy manifesto that called for an end to authoritarian rule in China. It was signed by hundreds of scholars and activists, a number that has since grown into the thousands.

When he was convicted of inciting subversion in 2009, Mr. Liu told the court that he hoped he would be “the last victim of China’s endless literary inquisitions and that from now on no one will be incriminated because of speech.”8COMMENTS

His statement was read at his Nobel Prize ceremony in Oslo the following year, and an empty chair was left on the stage because Chinese authorities would not allow him or family members to travel for the event.

Human rights groups and some governments have called for Mr. Liu and his wife to be allowed to travel for treatment. President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan added her voice Wednesday. “I call on #Beijing to free #LiuXiaobo & allow him to seek treatment wherever he wishes,” she posted on Twitter. “#Taiwan willing to provide any medical assistance.”

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Imprisoned Christian Tu Yan during a meeting
with her lawyer. (Photo: ChinaAid)

(Dali, Yunnan—July 12, 2017) Public security bureau personnel in China’s southern Yunnan province transferred the case of a Christian woman to a local court yesterday, despite the prosecutor’s belief in the woman’s innocence.

Levying the charge of “utilizing cults to sabotage law enforcement,” officials took Tu Yan, a church member, from her hotel in Dali, Yunnan, last October and held her for nine months. During that time, public security bureau personnel examined the case and submitted evidence to the procuratorate twice for prosecution, but the court ruled it insufficient and ordered them to investigate further both times. The public security bureau re-submitted so-called “evidence” against her for a third time on July 10, and the prosecution process began again.

Ren Quanniu, Tu’s lawyer, told ChinaAid that he met with his client last week and that she said she hadn’t heard of the Three Grades of Servants, the religious sect—considered a cult by the Chinese government—that she is accused of affiliating with.

Recently, Tu’s sister, Tu Kui, and their father went to the detention center and tried to convince the procuratorate of her innocence. However, Ren says that the procuratorate is not actually responsible for the case.

“Even the prosecutor in charge of the case believes that Tu Yan’s behaviors are no big deal,” Ren said. “The prosecutor admits that Tu Yan didn’t commit any crime, but he doesn’t have any say in this case. The procuratorate doesn’t have jurisdiction over this case, either. The personnel really in charge of the case is of a more powerful background.”

Despite the prosecutor’s doubts, the government is considering Tu Yan’s case “major,” and the primary investigators are facing enormous pressure from their superiors.

Five other Christians were taken into custody along with Tu, but only she and a Christian named Su Min were detained. Su hired a lawyer from Beijing, and her case has also been transferred to the procuratorate. Nothing else is known about her at this time.

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

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One of the police officers (right) who interrupted a Bible
study at Christian Xu Yonghai's home and demanded to see
identification cards. (Photo: ChinaAid)

(Beijing—June 11, 2017) Police interrupted a Bible study in Beijing on Friday and demanded to see the identification cards of those gathered there.

Officers from the Deshengmenwai Police Station arrived at the home of Holy Love Fellowship church member Xu Yonghai, who was hosting a Bible study. They ordered the 10 Christians gathered there to present their identification cards, which they were not carrying. Xu negotiated with them, asking why they had come to a private residence to request identification.

“We were very unhappy about (the intrusion),” Xu said. “We were in a stalemate for 10 minutes.”

When the negotiations failed to reach a conclusion, Xu called the national security’s office. “I said that all our gatherings are open to the public, and that the members are regulars; even the police are quite familiar with us. I said that since we only had a few people, there was no need to check our documents. It was unnecessary to generate trouble.”

Once national security officials interfered, the police left.

In instances that echo this one, the government has serially persecuted Holy Love Fellowship since its establishment in 2004. Last October, three policemen broke into Xu’s home, accused the Christians gathered there of “participating in illegal religious activities,” and ordered them to close the meeting. Authorities attacked the church itself in January 2014 and criminally detained more than 10 Christians on the charge of “gathering illegally.”

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

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Construction vehicles used in the forcible acquisition of
Yangjiazhuang Village residents' land. (Photo: ChinaAid)

(Yangtai, Shandong—July 11, 2017) Government officials in China’s eastern Shandong province forcibly confiscated 49 acres of land owned by 80 families, causing public outcry, ChinaAid recently learned.

A local Christian woman identified only by her surname, Yang, said the government dispatched a large group of demolition workers in June 2016 and used bulldozers to claim 90 percent of land owned by residents in Yangjiazhuang Village in order to build a highway, totaling 49 acres. Many of those taken from were Christians.

One church member, Yang Jiuhao, lost more than half an acre of his property and more than 200 apple trees.

Outraged, the villagers, including some Christians, traveled to Beijing several times to petition higher authorities, but their requests were ignored. The government in their local village hired gangsters to follow them everywhere they went, including into their fields and to the court.

As the construction of the highway continued, the conflict continued to escalate. Recently, the construction workers brutally beat a church member who went to protest the construction and required hospitalization, and the gangsters constantly target the villagers, smashing glass and doors.

In response to the villagers’ request to publicize information regarding the highway, the Ministry of Land and Resources released a statement on April 13, claiming that the victims’ land was not part of the Qingdao Laixi section of the highway project. As a result, the villagers pressed an administrative charge and demanded that the officials return their land.

Despite the ruling, the government has only offered to give the residents 800 yuan ($118 USD) per every sixteenth of an acre annually for the next 30 years.

ChinaAid exposes abuses, such as those suffered by the Yangjiazhuang Village residents, in order to stand in solidarity with the persecuted and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.

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