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Partner with ChinaAid to Free Yang Hua
The Gospel Herald
By Leah Marieann Klett
Aug 30, 2016 10:15 am EDT

■ The wife of an imprisoned house church pastor revealed that Chinese police have continually monitored and harassed her - all because of her family’s Christian faith.

According to China Aid, an organization dedicated to assisting persecuted Chinese Christians, Wang Hongwu, the wife of pastor Yang Hua who is falsely accused of “divulging state secrets,” angered local authorities after refusing to comply with a summons to the police station.

Police officers subsequently arrived at her home and insisted on staying until dinner time, claiming they were tired from patrolling. Later, officials from the neighborhood committee also came to the home to “collect evidence”.

Wang revealed that such harassment hasn’t stopped in week, as officials have been persistently following her and surveilling her house.

A Chinese woman prays during a church service in Pucheng,
Shanxi. Getty Images
“They keep watch at the door to my home for 24 hours [a day]. At night, they all sleep in the car. Last Saturday, many [officers] were at the gate to our neighborhood ... They wanted to check the identity cards of friends that came to my house. I said, ‘Why are you checking my friends’ identity cards? Is it illegal to come to my house?’ There was one friend that came, and they were still blocking the gate. They wouldn’t let him into my home ... That day, a foreign friend whom I don’t really know came. Another friend said that [the officials] saw there was a foreigner at our neighborhood’s gate, and they did not let them in.”

A member of Huoshi Church, where Yang is a pastor, told a China Aid reporter: “A while ago, public security officers from the police station came to find Hongwu and tell her that a foreigner wanted to interview her. On Sunday [Aug. 21], a person called and arranged to meet with me, but personnel from the national security [department] stopped me and said that foreigners came to interview me, and [the officials] commanded me not to meet with them.”

In an effort to stunt the growth of Christianity in China, the Communist government in 2013 launched a “Three Rectifications and One Demolition” campaign, which has seen the removal of over 1,5000 church crosses. From July to September 2015, China detained or arrested more than 250 attorneys, pastors, and human rights activists for protesting the cross removals.

Yang was officially arrested on Jan. 22 for “divulging state secrets,” and in an interview with his lawyers, shared how prosecutors tortured him when he refused to confess to his charges, including standing on his toes and threatening to kill him and bring harm to his family.

Officials scheduled a pre-trial meeting for Yang’s case on Aug. 16. However, when one of the judges presiding over the case returned from visiting him, she was involved in a car accident and suffered a miscarriage. As a result, the court has postponed the meeting.

Despite his bleak circumstances, Yang sent a letter to his wife, encouraging her to stand firm in the Holy Spirit and continue to pray for his persecutors.

“After this period of time, my spiritual life will be even more distinctive from the song that says ‘A crowd flooded into my kingdom, but they did not want to bear the cross.’ You can sing the song,” he wrote.

“Let the words of God make you stronger,” the pastor added. “You must always pray. Do not live in weakness and confusion; this is Satan’s scheme. Be full of the Holy Spirit and leave spiritual predicaments. Seek [to fulfill] all of the Lord’s decrees. Remove all of the negative thoughts and voices from your life.”

China Aid has launched a campaign to free Yang Hua, and to learn more about his case, sign the petition for his release and donate to support the persecuted and their families, please visit www.freeyanghua.org.


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Zhang Kai
(Stock photo courtesy of Zhang Kai)

China Aid
Reported in Chinese by Qiao Nong. Translated by Carolyn Song. Written in English by Brynne Lawrence.

(Hohhot, Inner Mongolia—Aug. 31, 2016) The mother of renowned human rights lawyer Zhang Kai published a distressed update yesterday, saying that police surrounded her home and attempted to seize her son. Earlier that day, Zhang had publicly renounced statements he was forced to make during an interview.

In an attempt to maintain the pretense that the Chinese government justly punishes human rights activists, officials forced Zhang to attend the Aug. 4 trial of lawyer Zhou Shifeng, after which he was pressured into condoning the government’s treatment of human rights lawyers in an interview. On Aug. 30, he posted a message on WeChat, a popular social media service, refuting his statements, requesting the forgiveness of the lawyers’ family members and explaining that he had been under great duress after experiencing a six-month detention that was “all black and no daylight.”

Zhang was originally apprehended on Aug. 25, 2015, for legally representing about 100 churches affected by an ongoing demolition campaign in Zhejiang province. Charged with “gathering a crowd to disturb public order” and “stealing, spying, buying and illegally providing state secrets and intelligence to entities outside of China,” he was held incommunicado in an unofficial prison known as a “black jail.”

Six months later, he reappeared on state television on Feb. 25, 2016, where, during an interview, he was forced to confess to his alleged crimes. Days later, he received a criminal detention sentence, which was cut short when he was released on bail on March 23. Since then, he has been living with his family in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia.

Zhang Kai confirmed that he published the message during a phone call with a China Aid reporter, but stated it was “inconvenient” for him to receive interviews at this time.

A day later, his mother wrote on social media that police came to her house and attempted to take Zhang into custody once again.

Translations of the two social media messages, as well as the interview between China Aid’s reporter and Zhang, are forthcoming.

China Aid exposes abuses human rights and religious freedom abuses, such as those experienced by Zhang Kai, in order to protect the right of Chinese Christians to practice their faith.


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By Carey Lodge 
31 August 2016

■ China has released five Christian detainees in Zhejiang province after four months in prison for protesting a church demolition.

The five, Ji Qingcao, Ji Qingcou, Ou Jinsi, Mei Xueshun, and He Lijing, are all members of Yazhong Church in Wenzhou, and were arrested in April on charges of "obstructing government administration" and "disturbing public order".

They had been involved in a protest over the planned demolition of another church, Guankou Church, in September last year.

The Communist Party is believed to be becoming
progressively more suspicious of the influence of Christianity,
which is experiencing significant growth in China. Reuters
A local Christian told human rights charity China Aid that the five had been released on August 28, and suggested it could have been due to pressure ahead of the upcoming G20 summit in Hangzhou.

"I feel like the government is trying to pacify the people before the summit meeting. Since the summit meeting will be held here [on September 4], the government begins to worry that they have detained the Christians for too long," the source said.

"The local government was concerned about petitions organised by the family members, thinking higher officials would pressure them."

It was announced in July that Chinese authorities had banned churches in Hangzhou, Zhejiang's capital, during the G20 summit "to create a safe environment".

The Global Times, a tabloid run by the ruling Communist party, said large-scale religious meetings had been blocked "to create a safe environment for the meeting".

The US-backed Radio Free Asia reported that the city's unofficial churches had also been told to stop meeting. "They have been forcing house churches not to meet ahead of the G20 summit," said Zhang Mingxuan, the president of China's House Church Alliance.

Activists have cautioned that the move may be part of a wider crackdown on churches in Zhejiang.

Up to 1,700 churches have been demolished or had their crosses removed in the province over the past two years.


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

(Wenzhou, Zhejiang—Aug. 30, 2016) Five Christian detainees in China’s coastal Zhejiang were suddenly released on Aug. 28 after four months in prison. Local sources believe the release came because of a government order in preparation for the upcoming G20 summit meeting in Hangzhou.

Ji Qingcao, Ji Qingcou, Ou Jinsi, Mei Xueshun, and He Lijing are members of Yazhong Church who were arrested last April on the charges of “obstructing government administration” and “disturbing public order.”

Beginning on Sept. 25, 2015, a group of people, including the five prisoners, came into conflict with authorities while protesting a planned demolition of Guankou Church. Over the next year, many of those involved in the protests were detained or arrested for various reasons, of which the April arrests were the latest.

Wen Xiaowu, who has not been heard
from in four months, poses with his
mother in an undated photo.
(Photo: China Aid)
“A few days ago, I’d heard that [the five Christians] had been released in the past few days,” a Wenzhou Christian told China Aid’s reporter. “I feel like the government is trying to pacify the people before the summit meeting. Since the summit meeting will be held here [on September 4], the government begins to worry that they have detained the Christians for too long. The local government was concerned about petitions organized by the family members, thinking higher officials would pressure them.”

Though the five from Yazhong Church have been released, Wen Xiaowu, the leader of a house church in Rui’an is still being held and has not been heard from since his arrest on April 15. Wen was detained with his wife, Xiang Lihua, and their son, on the charge of “gathering a crowd to disturb public order” after travelling to meet with diplomatic officers at the American Embassy in Shanghai.

China Aid raises awareness for prisoners of conscience in China who are detained unlawfully like Wen Xiaowu, and works to secure the releases of detainees such as the five Christians of Yazhong Church.


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Radio Free Asia
2016-08-30

■ A Chinese college student and political asylum-seeker detained in Thailand for having an expired passport is incommunicado after going back to China voluntarily, fellow activists said.

Xu Zhenxin, 19, was detained last month after Thai police asked for his identification en route to the northern city of Chiang Rai, where he had hoped to find work.

Veteran Thailand-based political refugee Li Yuzhou, who had been living in the country for seven years, also “voluntarily” returned to China, local sources told RFA.

Xu arrived back in China at Guangzhou’s international airport on Aug. 24, after which he was briefly contacted by a fellow refugee.

Chinese asylum-seeker Xu Zhenxin is shown after arriving in
Thailand, Nov. 20, 2015. Photo sent by a rights activist
“He got out of the airport after getting off the plane at Guangzhou airport, and I was talking to him by phone at that time,” the refugee, who asked to remain anonymous, said.

“But we only spoke a few words, then he hung up.”

The Thailand-based Chinese asylum-seeker said Xu said he was acting of his own free will, but that friends who met with him thought was “wasn’t himself.”

“He said he was determined to go home, and that he’d already bought the plane ticket,” the refugee said. “But we haven’t heard anything from him since, and we don’t know if he’s been detained or not.”

‘Miserable’


Thailand-based political activist Li Xiaolong said Xu had seemed miserable when he visited him last month at the immigration detention center where he was being held.

“Xiao Lin [another activist] later told me he had already attempted suicide,” Li told RFA.

Xu arrived in Thailand last November after taking a cross-border bus to Vietnam and a flight to Bangkok.

He had already received approval for resettlement as a political asylum-seeker, and held a UNHCR letter of protection.

A former freshman student at the Nanjing Post and Telecommunications University, Xu described himself as a political activist who frequently handed out leaflets calling for democratic reform on the streets of the city.

He had been interrogated several times by the city’s state security police, who had beaten him at least twice, fellow refugees told RFA.

He also spent a week in a “black jail,” an unofficial detention center, they said.

Climate of fear

Xu’s detention comes amid a growing climate of fear for Chinese dissidents who have sought political refuge in Thailand.

Claims of his voluntary return are also reminiscent of statements made by Chinese police that five Hong Kong booksellers detained last year for selling “banned books” to customers in China had willingly cooperated with police investigations.

Veteran refugee Li Yuzhou had also asked to go back to China after getting into an altercation last month with guards at the Bangkok Immigration Detention Center, Li said.

“The guards at the immigration detention center told my wife that he was sent back to China on Aug. 29,” he said.

“[They said] that Li Yuzhou wanted to leave Thailand, because he would have been effectively locked up here indefinitely,” Li said.

Thailand-based refugee Lin Dajun said Li Yuzhou had been talking of going back to China for the past couple of years, but his friends had tried to stop him.

“He had been talking about going back for the past couple of years, but a lot of people told him to wait and see whether the United Nations would help him or not,” Lin said.

“The U.N. handled his case very badly, so this isn’t a recent thing,” he said. “We all told him that if he went home, he’d never get the chance to leave again.”

Repeated calls to the Bangkok Immigration Detention Center rang unanswered during office hours on Monday.

Pressure to spy

Li Yuzhou fled China in 2002 after Beijing state security police put pressure on him to spy on fellow political activists in the Youth Study Group.

Li Yuzhou wrote about their demands and posted the information online. He then joined the Thailand branch of the banned opposition China Democracy Party (CDP) soon after arriving in the country.

He was detained in an immigration detention center in Sept. 9, 2009 after being accused of planting fake explosive devices, and had twice resisted attempts by the Chinese government to extradite him.

Li Xiaolong’s wife Gu Qiao is currently facing deportation for illegal immigration after the family were rescued from the wreck of a sailing yacht off the coast of southern Thailand.

Gu, who holds no passport, is being held in an immigration detention center, and recently pleaded guilty to immigration offenses, paving the way for her repatriation.

Li was released on bail with the children, while another refugee who sailed with them, Zhao Wei, was released because he holds a valid Thai visa, as were two other members of the yacht’s crew.

Gu was later transferred to the Bangkok Immigration Detention Center from a similar facility in Chumphon, where the rescue operation took place.

Two handed back

Li, a founding member of the banned opposition China Democracy Party (CDP) from the southwestern province of Guangxi, escaped China with his family in 2014, before being classified a genuine refugee by UNHCR.

He had set up a local chapter of the party while in Thailand, and was also vocal in the campaign to prevent the repatriation of Chongqing-based activists Dong Guangping and Jiang Yefei.

Jiang and Dong, who had fled persecution in their home country, were handed back to Chinese authorities last November in a move that drew strong criticism from the U.N. They are now in criminal detention in Chongqing, where they face subversion charges.

Jiang’s wife Chu Ling and Dong’s wife Gu Shuhua and daughter Dong Xuerui flew to Canada from Bangkok for resettlement as political refugees just days after the two men were repatriated. They now fear Jiang and Dong are at risk of torture and other violations of their rights.

Reported by Hai Nan for RFA’s Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.



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Wang Hongwu, left, pictured with her
two sons. Photo: China Aid
China Aid
Reported in Chinese by Qiao Nong. Translated by Carolyn Song. Written in English by Brynne Lawrence.

(Guiyang, Guizhou—Aug. 29, 2016) The wife of a prominent imprisoned pastor reported that police began monitoring her constantly on Aug. 12.

After Wang Hongwu, the wife of house church pastor Yang Hua who is currently accused of “divulging state secrets,” refused to comply with a summons to the police station on Aug. 12, officers arrived at her home, complained that they were tired from patrolling and stayed until dinner time. Officials from the neighborhood committee also came claiming they wanted to collect evidence.

In an interview, Wang said that officials have been persistently following her and surveilling her house. “They keep watch at the door to my home for 24 hours [a day]. At night, they all sleep in the car. Last Saturday, many [officers] were at the gate to our neighborhood … They wanted to check the identity cards of friends that came to my house. I said, ‘Why are you checking my friends’ identity cards? Is it illegal to come to my house?’ There was one friend that came, and they were still blocking the gate. They wouldn’t let him into my home … That day, a foreign friend whom I don’t really know came. Another friend said that [the officials] saw there was a foreigner at our neighborhood’s gate, and they did not let them in.”

A member of Huoshi Church, where Yang is a pastor, told a China Aid reporter: “A while ago, public security officers from the police station came to find Hongwu and tell her that a foreigner wanted to interview her. On Sunday [Aug. 21], a person called and arranged to meet with me, but personnel from the national security [department] stopped me and said that foreigners came to interview me, and [the officials] commanded me not to meet with them.”

Officials scheduled a pre-trial meeting for Yang’s case on Aug. 16. However, when one of the judges presiding over the case returned from visiting him, she was involved in a car accident and suffered a miscarriage. As a result, the court has postponed the meeting.

Another Huoshi Church pastor, Su Tianfu, said that the police have followed him every day since Dec. 19 of last year, even forcing him to use government-arranged transportation for outings such as shopping.

China Aid exposes abuses, such as those experienced by Su Tianfu, Wang Hongwu and other members of Huoshi Church in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Chinese Christians.


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Radio Free Asia
2016-08-29

■ Two more Buddhist nuns living at Sichuan’s Larung Gar Academy have killed themselves following a suicide in July to protest Chinese authorities’ destruction of large parts of the Tibetan Buddhist study center, with the attempted suicide of yet another woman blocked by friends at the last minute, according to Tibetan sources.

Tsering Dolma, aged about 20, hanged herself on Aug. 17 “when she could no longer bear the pain of seeing the destruction of Larung Gar,” a source living in the area told RFA’s Tibetan Service. “She left behind a note expressing her distress at the demolition and complaining that the Chinese will not let them live in peace.”

A native of Mewa township in Marthang (in Chinese, Hongyuan) county in Sichuan’s Ngaba (Aba) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Dolma had been seen before her death to be “depressed and worried” over Chinese authorities’ destruction of thousands of dwellings at the academy, RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“So she hanged herself,” he said.

A nun named Semga, a native of Dowa village in Ngaba’s Dzamthang (Rangtang) county, is also believed to have recently killed herself, though details on how and when she died were not immediately available, while a third nun attempted suicide “though others intervened in time and saved her,” the source said.

Tibetan nun Tsering Dolma is shown in an undated photo.
Photo sent by an RFA listener
The deaths follow the suicide on July 20 of Rinzin Dolma, a nun who hanged herself as Chinese work crews began to tear down monks’ and nuns’ houses to reduce what authorities have described as overcrowding at the Larung Gar academy in Ngaba's Serthar (Seda) county, sources said in earlier reports.

Many thousands of Tibetans and Han Chinese study at the sprawling Larung Gar complex, which was founded in 1980 by the late religious teacher Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok and is one of the world’s largest and most important centers for the study of Tibetan Buddhism.

Orders from higher-up


The order now to reduce the number of Larung Gar’s residents by about half to a maximum level of 5,000 is not a county plan “but comes from higher authorities,” with China’s president Xi Jinping taking a personal interest in the matter, sources told RFA in earlier reports.

Chinese authorities have stationed armed security forces at the work site and are warning that attempts at protest or resistance will be punished by arrests and incarceration, one source said, adding that armed police have also been deployed to nearby areas.

Informed by her friends of Dolma’s death, officials of Larung Gar’s government-appointed management committee said at first that they were unwilling to look into the case, but later came to try to claim the body, RFA’s source said.

“They said that their duty according to official instructions was to be sure that the demolition goes ahead, though, and that they would not be held responsible for anyone’s death."

Hearing this, the nuns “wailed in grief,” he said.

Rights groups have slammed the government-ordered destruction at Larung Gar, with New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) saying that Beijing should allow the Tibetan people to decide for themselves how best to practice their religion.

"If authorities somehow believe that the Larung Gar facilities are overcrowded, the answer is simple," HRW China director Sophie Richardson said in a statement in June.

"Allow Tibetans and other Buddhists to build more monasteries."

Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.


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Houston Chronicle
August 26, 2016

■ Woman facing spy charges says authorities forced her to confess


Houston businesswoman Sandy Phan-Gillis, center, seen with her husband Jeff Gillis, right, has been detained by the Chinese government for allegedly being a spy and stealing state secrets. Her husband Jeff Gillis said he is publicizing her ordeal to coincide with the U.S. visit this week of China's President Xi Jinping in hopes of placing pressure on U.S. and Chinese authorities to secure her release.

A Houston businesswoman whom Chinese authorities charged with spying last month after detaining her for more than a year was coerced into a confession and has been hospitalized twice after prolonged interrogation she described as "mental torture," her husband said Friday.

The new details come after he said Sandy Phan-Gillis met with U.S. consular officials without Chinese state security agents for the first time last month and following an August meeting with her newly appointed legal team, Mo Shaoping, a leading human rights law firm in China.

The lawyers told Jeff Gillis that his wife said she felt forced to admit to wrongdoing but that the confession was "faked." It's not clear exactly what she admitted. Her lawyers have been able to see her indictment but not a longer explanation of the allegations in her case file, her husband said.

She also told lawyers and consular officials that she was interrogated daily during six months of so-called residential surveillance, a controversial practice allowing Chinese authorities to hold suspects without charges while they investigate national security breaches. The questioning was harsh and terrified her so much that at one point she even fainted and had a heart attack, causing her to be hospitalized twice.

Houston businesswoman Sand Phan-Gillis, center, seen with
her husband Jeff Gillis, right, has been detained by the
Chinese government for allegedly being a spy with the U.S.
visit this week of China’s President Xi Jinping in hopes of
placing pressure on U.S. and Chinese authorities to secure her
release. Photo: Courtesy Of Jeff Gillis
The revelations, including that Phan-Gillis wanted to kill herself three times and said she agreed with her interrogators only because they threatened her with life imprisonment, meets the United Nations' definition of torture, her husband said.

The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Espionage alleged


Liu Bo, an official with China's Consulate in Houston, said in a statement that Phan-Gillis is suspected of stealing and spying on China's national secrets and that during her arrest "a new crime of espionage" was uncovered. He provided no details but said she is in good health.

"Her lawful rights are properly protected," he said in an email. "The Chinese side will continue to deal with her case according to the law of China."

John Kamm, a human rights activist in China and director of the Dui Hua Foundation in San Francisco, said Phan-Gillis' case qualifies as torture. He said the U.N. has specifically condemned China's practice of placing suspects under residential surveillance in a designated location, as it did for six months with Phan-Gillis, comparing it to an enforced or involuntary disappearance.

Until China overhauled its regulations last October to curtail abuse at such centers, they were not subject to much oversight, and few details existed about their conditions.

"You are at their complete disposal for six months with no access to a lawyer. During that period, (Phan-Gillis) was interrogated at least once a day, sometimes more," Kamm said. "In that kind of atmosphere I am confident that meets the U.N.'s definition of torture: Solitary confinement, enforced disappearance, no access to a lawyer."

Jeff Gillis said his wife's latest comments pushed him to speak publicly about the case for the first time since last September. Her arrest had been kept secret until he brought it to national attention last year to coincide with the visit of China's President Xi Jinping to Washington.

"The fact that the Chinese government still refuses to discuss the case leaves me without much feeling of hope, that they did issue a formal indictment leaves me without much hope, and also the fact that Sandy is finally able to speak out about her treatment in captivity makes me feel like I really need to take the case to the American people," said Gillis, an oil and gas services manager at Schlumberger in Houston.

Plea to Obama

President Barack Obama will meet with Xi during the G20 summit, starting Sept. 4 in China, and Gillis released a plea for help he said his wife had dictated to consular officials.

"I hope you can help me by negotiating with Chinese President Xi Jinping for my release when you meet with him at the upcoming G20 meeting," Phan-Gillis said in the letter. "I am accused of being a spy for the U.S. government. I have never been a spy."

The case has sparked widespread condemnation from Congress and the United Nations and has been called a "red flag" for Americans working in China because many considered Phan-Gillis a "poster child for good U.S.-China relations."

A 56-year-old Vietnamese refugee of Chinese descent who became a U.S. citizen decades ago, Phan-Gillis was leading a trade delegation including Houston's former mayor pro-tem, Ed Gonzalez, when she was detained in March 2015. She was passing through an immigration control connecting mainland China with Macau. She was held for six months under residential surveillance, then moved in September to a formal detention center in Nanning, Guangxi, a province bordering Vietnam. In July, she was charged with spying in the Nanning Intermediate People's Court.

Gillis revealed her arrest when he unveiled the brief media campaign last September.

But within days, he abruptly shut it down, saying it was best to leave negotiations to the State Department.

On Friday, however, he said his wife had called him on Sept. 24 and in a frightening 16-minute phone call pleaded with him to stop the publicity, saying she was afraid of what may happen if he continued.

"I know you're scared about my safety and my health, but I don't want to lose my medicine, my doctor and my consul visits," she told him. "I don't want that taken away from me. Please tell them you will stop so that they can hear you agree."

That was the only time he has spoken to her since her arrest.

"This is very, very difficult," he said. "It is crazy-making, I would say that. This is not something I would wish on anyone."

Monthly meetings

The State Department has said consular officials meet with Phan-Gillis every month and are monitoring the case closely. Senior officials in Washington have raised it several times with their counterparts in Beijing.

In July a United Nations panel said China has arbitrarily detained Phan-Gillis in violation of international human rights norms. The U.N. working group said that the Chinese government told it that Phan-Gillis is charged with "assisting external parties to steal national intelligence." The panel called for her to be released or given proper assistance by a legal counsel.

What makes her case especially puzzling to those who know her best is that Phan-Gillis has worked for decades to improve U.S.-China's relations. She helped lead and later served as president of the Houston Shenzhen Sister City Association since 1994 and founded Houston's Chinese New Year festival. She coordinated training programs for Chinese nurses in Houston.

"To me it flies in the face of reason," said Kamm, who has helped more than 400 political and religious prisoners in China.

U.S. analysts say her case raises questions about the safety of Americans doing business in China under Xi, who has arrested at least nine foreigners on allegations of spying in the past two years and oversaw the passage of a sweeping national security law last summer that grants authorities broad discretion about what constitutes espionage.

It was approved as Chinese authorities have increasingly blamed "foreign forces" for protests in Hong Kong and elsewhere and as the government has launched a massive anti-corruption crackdown that has also focused on dissidents.


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The Globe and Mail
By Times Wang
Published Friday, Aug. 26, 2016 6:00 am EDT
Last updated Friday, Aug. 26, 2016 9:57 am EDT

■ Times Wang of Montreal is a lawyer based in Washington, D.C. His family’s website provides details about his father’s case.


--------------------------

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visits China next week, my family and I will be watching very closely. We are Canadian Chinese, but our particular interest in his visit stems not from heritage, but from heartache.

My father is Chinese political prisoner Wang Bingzhang, whose experience of Canadian democracy led him to devote his life to democracy activism. After obtaining his PhD from McGill University, he started several opposition parties, including in China, from which he was exiled and expelled.

Fourteen years ago, he was kidnapped in Vietnam and taken to China, where he was held incommunicado for months, and then convicted in a one-day, closed-door trial where he was not allowed to present evidence, much less mount a meaningful defence.

The Canadian government has been helpful, but my father remains in prison. Our heartache deepens, as weddings, births and funerals slip by with only a flower on an empty chair to make up for his absence. Meanwhile, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) continues to jail anyone who dares challenge its power, from journalists to religious leaders to activists to academics to lawyers, at a pace that is unrelenting, and that has intensified under President Xi Jinping.

So what will we be watching for? A public call by Mr. Trudeau for the CCP to release my father on humanitarian grounds would do splendidly. But we will also be watching for something broader. We will be watching for leadership.

The Prime Minister has committed to defend the universality of democratic values and human rights during this trip, and that is what Canadians rightly expect. But Canada’s leadership on these issues is particularly important for another reason: It provides an example for other democracies to follow.

In recent years, as my family’s experience has taught us, relations between democratic countries around the world and the CCP (and it is important to remember that the CCP is not the same thing as China itself, or its people) have been characterized by a dichotomy that pits upholding democratic values against pursuing economic interests. The debate inevitably becomes whether, and to what extent, the former should give way to the latter. We submit, however, that in the long run, this dichotomy is false, because true prosperity cannot exist in an undemocratic world. And we submit that, whatever tension exists, values must prevail over interests.

In dealing with the CCP, however, too many democracies fail to see things this way, and err on the side of appeasement, by toning down their criticism, or by paying mere lip service to human rights concerns. But when the rest of the world wavers on issues of principle, there is a tradition of Canadian leadership strengthening global resolve – a tradition Mr. Trudeau has been known for upholding. Thus, we believe that on this trip, he should not just mention democratic values and human rights, but should dedicate a significant amount of energy to setting forth an argument in their favour, as forcefully and as publicly as possible.

Doing so would be an example of the leadership that led his father, the late prime minister Pierre Trudeau, to open relations with China in the first place, bucking global convention. It would be the kind of leadership that led Justin Trudeau to embrace tens of thousands of Syrian refugees while other governments equivocated. In that context, he argued that there is a “set of values, aspirations, hopes and dreams” that “people around the world share.” We agree, and we know that many Chinese and Canadians do as well.

And so next week, from our homes in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, my family will be watching closely. We will be looking for an example to bolster our resolve in our campaign for my father’s freedom. We will be looking for leadership to bolster the resolve of kindred spirits and countries in the broader battle for democracy.

For my father’s sake, for our own and for the sake of future generations of Chinese, of Canadians and of people the world over, we hope we will see it.

Eds note: An earlier version suggested Wang Bingzhang returned to China immediately after obtaining his PhD from McGill.


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The Gospel Herald
By Leah Marieann Klett
Aug 25, 2016 12:36 PM EDT

■ A farmer protesting the forced acquisition of his land in China's southwestern Shandong province was killed by a government worker, who used a front loader to maul him to death.

According to China Aid, an international non-profit Christian human rights organization committed to promoting religious freedom and rule of law in China, the Communist government forcibly seized the farmer's property and dispatched a team to build a road across it. Attempting to prevent the construction, the landowner stood before a front loader, which plowed over him and killed him.

While the state claims the death was caused by a faulty operation of machine, China Aid notes that internet users allege that it was intentional. However, social media posts related to the incident have been deleted, leaving little information on the event.

"Is the government any different than bandits?" one post read.

Tibetan, Chinese, Uygur and American activists rally outside
the White House in Washington. Reuters
According to the Chinese Ministry of Land and Resources, between 1998 and 2005 there were more 1 million cases of illegal seizures involving at least 815,447 acres. Additionally, a survey in 90 areas in 2008 by the official New China News Agency found that 22 percent to 80 percent of land projects were illegal.

Many cases involve violence and harassment, and evictees often received little notice, no consultation and only a fraction of the value of their home in compensation.

"The forced eviction of people from their homes and farmland without appropriate legal protection and safeguards has become a routine occurrence in China, and represents a gross violation of human rights obligations on an enormous scale," Amnesty told the BBC.

Many cases are "sudden and violent, sometimes resulting in death", harassment and people being buried alive.

The horrific incident mirrors one in the central Henan province city of Zhumadian, where Ding Cuimei, wife of the Rev. Li Jiangong, was killed by a bulldozer while trying to stop the government-ordered demolition of Beitou Church. According to China Aid, Ding was pushed into a ditch and buried alive as horrified congregants watched helplessly.

"Bury them alive for me," a member of the demolition team said. "I will be responsible for their lives."

At the time, Bob Fu, president and founder of China Aid, said the horrific incident underscores the serious violations against religious freedom in China that have occurred since President Xi Jinping took office in 2013 and highlights the Chinese leadership's discomfort with the growing allure of Christianity, whose followers are said to rival in number the 86 million members of the Communist Party.


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The Christian Times
By Chiqui Guyjoco
26 August, 2016

■ A Chinese official fatally plowed over a farmer Sunday morning after the farmer protested the forced seizure of his land.

According to China Aid, a government employee in the coastal province of Shandong used a front loader to kill the farmer. Official reports then claimed the farmer died due to faulty operation of the machine.

However, social media posts contradicted the Communist State's report and said that the landowner mauled the farmer who stood his ground to defy the construction of a road on a piece of land that the government seized from him.

"Is the government any different than bandits?" China Aid quoted one social media comment.

(Reuters/Stringer) Farmers look at a mural made of rice plants
on a paddy field which forms into the shape of the emblem of
the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the number “2015”,
to celebrate the upcoming 94th anniversary of the founding of
the party, in Ouyuan village of Loudi, Hunan province, China,
June 28, 2015. 
The government reportedly deleted all social media posts surrounding the incident.

Peng Shengbin, a local resident, said that the state also harassed protesters on March 7, 2014 after forcing them to relocate. He said the government's demolition team even kidnapped his wife on March 22, 2014.

"They kicked her and beat her," Peng said. "My wife kowtowed to them, saying 'Don't kill me! We don't have any money!' They grabbed her hair and shoved her against the car. Afterwards, they abducted my wife and took her to a hotel."

He added that the government did not respond to their repeated complaints and appeals.

Prof. Philip Alston, United Nations expert on human rights and extreme poverty, said at the end of his fact-finding trip to China that the state should recognize human rights in order to make real progress.

"China has much to be proud of in the field of poverty alleviation. However, if it is to effectively ensure the implementation of its economic and social rights obligations, it needs to adopt more robust mechanisms for citizen involvement and for governmental accountability," said Alston on Tuesday.

The UN expert mentioned in his report the nationwide crackdown on human rights lawyers last year and the convictions on some of them only recently, the inefficiency of petitioning officials, the restrictive laws on non-government organizations, and the punitive responses to protests.


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Christian Today
Andre Mitchell 
24 August 2016

■ Another innocent Christian is being deprived of his freedom for standing up for his faith in God.

Christian church leader Hu Shigen has been sentenced to seven years of imprisonment in China, as the communist country continues its crackdown against human rights activists.

According to a report from BBC News, Hu was convicted after a trial that lasted only a few hours. He was jailed for "damaging national security and harming social stability"—charges that the Christian church leader pleaded guilty to.

Aside from his imprisonment, Hu was also stripped of his political rights for five years.

Chinese state media described Hu as the "leader of an underground church" that was only supposedly pretending to be a religious body, but in reality, is an organsation meant to draw attention to abuses being committed by the government in China.
Christians in China are facing increased restrictions under
President Xi Jinping's rule.

The government-controlled press in China also reportedly quoted prosecutors who charged Hu as saying that the "ideology and behaviors" of the Christian church leader "seriously harmed the country and social stability."

This is not the first time that Hu is being imprisoned in China. He had previously served 20 years in prison for the now-abolished charge of counter-revolution. He was released in 2008.

Hu is just one of many Christians being persecuted in China. Around 300 lawyers and activists have been arrested, including 20 individuals who have been detained by the communist state since last year as part of a national campaign, which international organisations see as an attempt to silence critics of the Chinese government.

Chinese activitist Zhai Yanmin, for instance, was recently imprisoned also for alleged subversion. He was sentenced to a three-year jail term.

Lawyers from the Fengrui law firm are also being harassed by Chinese officials for supposedly collaborating with Hu on "how to get lawyers involved with sensitive incidents," and for supposedly being connected to anti-China forces.


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Officials raid a house church gathering
in Guizhou province.
(Photo: China Aid)
China Aid
Reported in Chinese by Qiao Nong. Translated by Carolyn Song. Written in English by Brynne Lawrence.

(Changji, Xinjiang—Aug. 25, 2016) A local Procuratorate returned the case of five detained Christians to the public security bureau for further investigation in late July.

On March 5, more than 200 government agents surrounded and raided a meeting consisting of church leaders from several house churches at the home of Zheng Lan, a Christian whose residence doubled as a meeting place for an unofficial church. Police took Zheng and four other Christians—Liu Yan, Chen Yajie, Wang Lulu and Yang Zhaocun—into custody and administratively detained them the next day for “gathering a crowd to disturb public order.”

The public security bureau transferred the case to the Procuratorate for prosecution, but the Procuratorate ruled that the officials had insubstantial evidence and returned the case for further investigation last month.

China Aid supports persecuted Christians in China by exposing abuses the Communist Party enacts against them, such as those suffered by house church members.


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Christian Daily
By Lorraine Caballero
24 August, 2016 10:19 pm

■ A group of Christians in China were able to save their church from being demolished for a plan to build a Buddhist temple on the property.

Wei, a man in charge of the Mengen Church, said a local official named Pan Dingqun ordered an electrician to cut off their power and water supply on July 28. However, they convinced the electricians not to do as he was told, China Aid reports.

The Mengen Church members successfully gathered 147 signatures for a petition asking for their church to be spared from demolition. Pan, on the other hand, is still discussing with his colleagues further attempts to cut off the church's power supply.

"[On July 28] several Christians went into town to report this matter, because our church has all the legal documents," one of the church members said. "The town's government personnel replied that they would conduct an investigation into this matter, but I am afraid they have collaborated [with the people who instigated the case]. The result will not likely be good."

(Reuters/Lang Lang) A local resident rides a bicycle past a
church in Xiaoshan, a commercial suburb of Hangzhou, the
capital of China’s east Zhejiang province. December 21, 2006.
In a separate incident in April, a Christian in Zhumadian in Hena province died trying to stop authorities from demolishing their church. Ding Cuimei was buried alive when she fell into a ditch as she tried to halt the demolition of the Beitou Church, the Express details.

China Aid said the demolition team was ordered to run her over. One of them reportedly told his companion to "bury them alive for me." The same man said the Chinese government wants to control the growth of Christianity in the country.

The crackdown on Christianity in China has seen more than two thousand crosses forcefully removed from churches. Two years ago, the state launched a campaign to erase Christianity in the province of Zhejiang.

As of now, an estimated five percent of China's population is made up of Christians. The Chinese government allegedly wants to lower that number and regulate "excessive religious rites" in the Communist country.



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Christian Today
By Ruth Gledhill
25 August 2016

■ A farmer in China who resisted the seizure of his land has been killed, the Christian human rights organisation China Aid reports.

The farmer stood in front of a front-loader vehicle to try and stop contractors building a road across his land.

The vehicle was then driven into and over the famer, who lost his life, according to China Aid.

Farmer killed in China after protesting force acquisition of his
land. China Aid
Social media posts that have since been deleted described how the man's property was seized and a team of builders sent to construct a road over it.

“Officially, the state claims the death was caused by a faulty operation of machine and says it is investigating the situation, but internet users allege that it was intentional,” said China Aid. “Most social media posts related to the incident have been deleted, leaving little information on the event.”

One person wrote on social media: “Is the government any different than bandits?”

China Aid drew comparisons with an earlier incident two years ago, when a demolition team hired by the government beat and trampled on protesters.

Peng Shengbin, a local resident facing forced relocation, told China Aid that the demolition team kidnapped his wife on March 22, 2014: “They kicked her and beat her. My wife kowtowed to them, saying 'Don't kill me! We don't have any money!' They grabbed her hair and shoved her against the car. Afterwards, they abducted my wife and took her to a hotel.”


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A farmer in Shandong province was
killed while prostesting the forced
acquistion of his land.
(Photo: China Aid)
China Aid
Reported in Chinese by Qiao Nong. Translated by Carolyn Song. Written in English by Brynne Lawrence.

(Heze, Shandong—Aug. 24, 2016) A government employee in China’s coastal Shandong province used a front loader to maul a farmer protesting the forced acquisition of his land on Sunday morning, resulting in his death.

According to social media posts, the government forcibly seized the farmer’s property and dispatched a team to build a road across it. In an attempt to stop the construction, the landowner stood before a front loader, which plowed over him and killed him.

Officially, the state claims the death was caused by a faulty operation of machine and says it is investigating the situation, but internet users allege that it was intentional. Most social media posts related to the incident have been deleted, leaving little information on the event.

“Is the government any different than bandits?” one post read.

This reflects a similar occurrence on March 7, 2014, when a government-hired demolition team beat and trampled on protesters. Peng Shengbin, a local resident facing forced relocation, told China Aid that the demolition team kidnapped his wife on March 22, 2014: “They kicked her and beat her. My wife kowtowed to them, saying ‘Don’t kill me! We don’t have any money!’ They grabbed her hair and shoved her against the car. Afterwards, they abducted my wife and took her to a hotel.”

No government institution answered his repeated complaints and appeals.

China Aid exposes abuses, such as those suffered by protesters in Shandong, in order to promote human rights in China.


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Radio Free Asia
2016-08-23

■ Authorities in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou are targeting restaurants owned by the mostly Muslim Uyghur ethnic group ahead of the city’s hosting of the G20 summit in early September.

As rights activists call on the leaders of the G20 nations not to ignore China's human rights violations during the Sept. 4-5 summit, local residents said Uyghur-run businesses are being singled out for special security checks and closure by police.

“There is a noodle place run by people from Xinjiang near my home, and suddenly four busloads of police parked outside and got out,” a Hangzhou resident surnamed Sun told RFA on Tuesday.

“I thought they were going to arrest people. They were even carrying guns,” she said.

Armored vehicles are shown parked outside a Hangzhou
shopping mall ahead of the G20 Summit, August 2016.
Photo sent by a local resident
Neighbors later told her the police were under orders to shutter the restaurant for the duration of the G20 summit, she said.

“They brought the guns because they were afraid the Uyghurs would be unwilling to leave,” Sun said. “Then they searched the whole place to make sure there was nobody left inside … and shuttered it and sealed the doors with paper strips.”

“So now they are temporarily closed,” she said.

Calls to a number of Uyghur-run restaurants in the city rang unanswered during office hours on Tuesday.

'Stability maintenance'


In recent weeks, Hangzhou city authorities have shut down businesses and industrial facilities across the scenic city, ordered increased security checks on citizens, and packed large numbers of its citizens off on vacation in a bid to "maintain stability," residents said.

Two mobile divisions of the People’s Armed Police have been stationed in the city on standby, including armored vehicles, which are parked in the city center and near the stadium, according to posts on social media.

For many, the security measures are a step too far, with checkpoints on all major routes into the city causing long delays for drivers.

One resident tweeted a photo on Tuesday showing an LED display by a major highway banning “all odd and even license plate numbers” from entering Hangzhou.

Meanwhile, police detained a woman after she refused to take a sip of a bottle of water she was carrying, when requested by the driver, local residents said.

Photos supplied by bystanders showed two police officers frog-marching a woman away from the bus.

“The police checks are very stringent,” Sun said. “Every vehicle and every person entering Hangzhou has to be searched, along with all of their baggage. The searches are very thorough.”

“I think they’re really overdoing it this time,” she said. “During the two days of the summit, all businesses near the venue will be forced to close and everyone will have two days off work.”

Sun said she has been given eight days’ leave.

“The only thing left to do is to leave town and take a vacation,” she said. “The city’s empty.”

She said Hangzhou residents have been offered free entry to nearby tourist attractions, including Huang Shan, and to tourist destinations in the southwestern region of Guangxi, in a bid to get them to leave the city.

Crackdown 'worst in decades'

The G20 summit comes amid what activists are saying is the worst crackdown on rights activists in decades, and campaigners want global leaders to hold the ruling Chinese Communist Party to account.

Rights groups are citing the persecution of civil society groups and the increased targeting of dissidents, religious believers, and ethnic minorities in the name of “stability maintenance” under President Xi Jinping.

Hangzhou-based dissidents, including rights activist Zou Wei, have already been taken out of town on enforced “vacations,” activists told RFA.

And rights activist Jiang Yalin, who has campaigned on behalf of families hit by the melamine-tainted infant milk powder scandal, said she has also had a visit from the local “stability maintenance” office asking about her plans.

“Some people from the Jinhua [district] stability maintenance office came by to look for me a couple of days ago, my husband told me,” she said. “They wanted to know where I would be during the G20 in Hangzhou."

Jiang said she had already left town, however.

"My husband told me to take our kid outside the the city to get away from the summer heat,” she said.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA’s Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.


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Radio Free Asia
2016-08-22

■ Chinese political prisoner Guo Feixiong, who has refused food and water for more than 100 days in protest at his treatment in jail, may have had his request for a transfer granted, his wife told RFA on Monday.

Guo, whose birth name is Yang Maodong, had been subjected to forced feeding after beginning his hunger strike in early May in protest at the treatment of political prisoners in China.

His lawyers had requested his transfer from Yangchun Prison in the southern province of Guangdong after a public outcry triggered by his hunger strike.

“I have heard that [Guo has left Yangchun Prison] but we haven’t had this information confirmed yet,” Guo’s U.S.-based wife Zhang Qing said. “Some of the family are planning to visit him on Aug. 26, so we probably won’t hear anything for a while.”

Guangdong rights activist Guo Feixiong in an undated photo.
Photo courtesy of activists
“Our information is incomplete right now,” said Zhang, who was granted political asylum in the United States in November 2009 along with the couple's daughter Yang Tianjiao.

According to rights activist Ai Wu, who heads the Guo Feixiong Concern Group, the initial report of Guo’s departure from Yangchun came in the form of a phone call from Guangdong authorities to his sister, Yang Maoping.

“The Guangdong provincial prison bureau sent out a tweet on Friday, which was followed by a private phone call to Guo’s elder sister, saying that he had been transferred to another prison,” Ai said.

“If this is true, I will be very happy about it, because nobody wants anything bad to happen to him.”

But Ai said it is still unclear whether Guo’s other demands of better treatment for political prisoners have been met, and therefore whether or not he has willingly ended his hunger strike.

“It is a small concession for them to fulfill his request for a transfer, but the government has yet to respond to his demands regarding the bigger, humanitarian issues that he made on arrival at Yangchun Prison,” she said.

Call for reforms, end to torture


Guo began his hunger strike on May 9, calling on President Xi Jinping to implement democratic reforms, end the use of electric shocks in prison, improve the treatment of political prisoners, and ratify a United Nations covenant on civil and political rights.

His action was prompted by a forced rectal cavity search at the instigation of state security police, as well as forced head shaving and verbal abuse from prison guards, his sister said at the time.

More than 400 rights activists have been on relay hunger strikes in support of Guo since he began refusing food and water.

Ai said Guo had also spoken out against a lack of nutritious food in jail, against being beaten and “forced to kneel,” and on “forced exercise sessions.”

“But Guo Feixiong has been forced to squat down with his hands on his head more than three times, and threatened with an electric baton, and these are very serious forms of physical and emotional abuse,” Ai said.

“If he has really been transferred to another jail, then I hope that similar things won’t continue to happen at the new prison,” she said.

According to the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), Yangchun Prison twice admitted guo to hospital between April and May, but only for checkups. No diagnosis or medical treatments were offered.

Guo was sentenced last November for "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble" and "gathering a crowd to disrupt social order" after a prolonged period in pretrial detention.

During his sentencing hearing, Guo shouted in protest at his treatment while in police custody, where he was held in solitary confinement in a small, dark cell and denied permission to exercise outdoors since August 2013.

Reported by Yang Fan for RFA’s Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.



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Radio Free Asia
2016-08-22

■ As millions of Chinese schoolchildren and college students were back in class at the start of the new academic year on Monday, the children of some dissidents and critics of the ruling Chinese Communist Party continue to be denied access to education, activists told RFA.

Grassroots activist Ran Chongbi, who has previously been detained by Chinese police for her support of the 2014 pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, said her school-age daughter has been barred from attending state-run schools for the past five years.

Ran, who once ran an unofficial school for the children of evictees and other long-term petitioners in Beijing's Fengtai district, in a bid to address the problem, called on the authorities to allow her daughter and the children of around a dozen other families to go back to full-time study.

“I have had a number of calls from the government and from the school principals to inform me that there is nothing they can do about it,” Ran said, on the first day of China’s fall semester. “They just keep telling me that my kid isn’t allowed to attend school.”

“My child has committed no crime, and her schooling has nothing to do with my complaints about the government’s injustices,” she said. “My kid shouldn’t be tarred with the same brush, and inherit the status of ‘petitioner’.”

Petitioners whose children have been denied access to school
protest in Beijing’s Fengtai District, Aug. 20, 2016.
Photo courtesy of Ran Chongbi
Ran tried home-schooling her own and other petitioners’ children last year in a rented apartment in a Beijing suburb, in a bid to solve the problem.

But the school was soon ordered to leave the premises, after pressure was put on the landlord of the apartment.

Ran, who once traveled to Hong Kong with the intention of self-immolating over the 2008 rape of her then five-year-old daughter, had planned to teach a different curriculum to that laid down by the education ministry.

“My child is the future of this country, and … the government has a duty to educate her,” she said. “President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang are always talking about not allowing the poorest peasant families to end up on the streets,” she said.

Pressure on petitioners

Fellow petitioner Hao Huanglin said all children should have the right to attend school, regardless of who their parents are.

“The authorities react [to petitioners] with persecution and detention,” Hao said. “Now they are saying we can’t send our kids to school.”

“It doesn’t matter which schools we apply to; they won’t enroll them.”

Hao said the government seems to be insisting that petitioners end their rights campaigning and return to their hometowns.

“They are trying to force us to leave [Beijing],” she said.

Authorities in the eastern province of Anhui last week released rights activist Zhang Lin from a three-year jail term on public order charges after he campaigned publicly for his daughters to be allowed to attend school.

Anni and her elder sister Ruli left China for California after their father's arrest in August 2013, where they were taken in by Reggie Littlejohn, founder of the Women's Rights Without Frontiers rights group, and granted political asylum.

Anni was dubbed "China's youngest prisoner of conscience" after she was taken out of school by state security police and detained for several hours in February 2013, and prevented from attending school during her father’s house arrest.

After his daughters’ escape, Zhang and three fellow activists were jailed for “gathering a crowd to disrupt public order” for their role in the campaign for Zhang Anni’s place in school.

However, Zhang Lin’s whereabouts are still unknown following his release, indicating that he may still be under police surveillance, rights groups said.

Reported by Goh Fung and Hai Nan for RFA’s Cantonese Service, and by Kou Tianli for the Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.



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Christian Today
By Ruth Gledhill
23 August 2016

■ China's crackdown on house churches not registered with the official state church is growing and now represents the "greatest challenge" faced by Christians in the region, according to latest reports.

Some unregistered churches are resisting the pressure to comply with government regulations, in spite of the risks of retribution.

China Aid, which works to support persecuted Christians in China, is reporting that one house church, Proclaiming Christ, in central Henan province has rejected a government order to cease its religious activities and remove its signs and worshippers intend to continue to defy the authorities.

Fang Guojian, a church attendee, told China Aid: "We are still gathering. We wrote a petition. After they saw it, they were afraid. In the letter, we wrote that we would go to Beijing; go to Beijing and appeal. Now, they are afraid, and they do not dare to provoke us."

Once churches are registed with the official church, the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, they become subject to government supervision. All services and other activities then have to be approved by the state.

The Communist Party is believed to be becoming
progressively more suspicious of the influence of Christianity,
which is experiencing significant growth in China. Reuters
China is number 33 on the Open Doors persecution watch list, which ranks countries where it is most difficult to practice the Chistian faith.

Open Doors says: "While the campaign of breaking down crosses in the province Zhejiang seems to have come to an end, church meetings continue to be disrupted and stopped. Authorities see the meetings as threats when foreigners, media or large groups of people are involved, one example being in the province Guangdong.

"The curbing of reporting and social media after explosions in Tianjin in August 2015 also serve to limit Christian freedoms. The government's goal of maintaining power and social harmony includes the control of all religions, including the quickly growing Christian minority."


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The Japan News
By Kazuhiko Makita
2:13 pm, August 22, 2016

■ In China earlier this month, four people — human rights lawyers and activists — were convicted for subverting state power. It has been over three years since the inauguration of the administration of Chinese President Xi Jinping, and three changes have become apparent in the way the Communist regime suppresses human rights activities.

Video confessions

On Aug. 1, lawyer Wang Yu, who had been detained since July last year, suddenly appeared in a videotaped interview with a Hong Kong media outlet. She was believed to have been released on bail. Wang appeared in front of the camera and declared that her “activities to date have been wrong,” acknowledging her mistake of having engaged in human rights activities.

Some believe that the regime had used her family to pressure Wang. Similar confessions in the media by “political prisoners” are nothing new under the Xi regime. There has been a series of public confessions from high-ranking officials exposed as corrupt.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Xi administration’s aim is to foster the impression that activists — who have opposed the one-party regime and called for the right to free speech since the 1989 Tiananmen incident, in which the student democracy movement was suppressed by armed forces — are no more than criminals.

A member of a diplomatic group monitoring China’s human rights situation says activists whose confessions are aired in the media are effectively rendered powerless by the process, and that even when they return to society they are unable to continue with their former activities. The aim of the regime is to cause the disintegration of human rights activities, the source says.

Punishments made public

Under the previous administration of President Hu Jintao, when activists were detained they would typically “go missing” all of a sudden. The then “reeducation through labor” system was utilized so that detainees could be held for a long period of time without access to the judicial process. It is said that in some cases detainees were subjected to harsh interrogation and physical torture.

A human rights activist in Beijing said the behind-closed-doors suppression by the Chinese government was derived from a sense of inferiority to the West, which was keeping its eye on China’s human rights situation. However, in 2013 the Xi regime abolished the system. Instead, they claimed to introduce a full commitment to the rule of law.

To illustrate this new approach, the trials of four activists who had been detained with Wang at the Tianjin No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court — a district court — held on Aug. 2-5 emphasized transparency.

Zhou Shifeng, 51, director of the Beijing Fengrui Law Firm, to which Wang belonged, was sentenced to seven years in prison. Activist Hu Shigen, 60, who had participated in the pro-democracy movement in the 1990s and been imprisoned at the time, was sentenced to 7½ years.

Two other activists were also convicted and received suspended sentences.

Official media outlets, including the state-run Xinhua News Agency, and the court made public the details of the detention, prosecution and judicial decisions regarding the four activists.

This trend has become quite clear after the crackdown on the New Citizens Movement, which has been influential since about 2010 as it seeks to advocate for human rights within the framework of China’s current Constitution.

The founder of the movement, Xu Zhiyong, was taken into custody in July 2013, sentenced in January 2014 and in April 2014 had his sentence upheld at the Beijing Municipal High People’s Court. In his case, the authorities and the media did not make public his indictment or the details of the judicial proceedings, and the trial was held behind closed doors.

The tide turned with the handling of the cases of journalist Gao Yu, who was detained in April 2014 for allegedly passing state secrets to foreigners, and human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, who in May that year was detained after attending an event about the Tiananmen incident.

Making public the judicial proceedings against noted activists serves as a form of intimidation aimed at other activists, and since it is ostensibly based on the rule of law, it can be seen as a good reason to reject interference from the West.

According to an analysis by a human rights lawyer, the Xi regime increased its use of force and it seems to have realized that publicizing their crackdowns actually makes them more effective.

Little concern about pressure

In the past, it was typical for China’s Communist regime to pursue crackdowns on those advocating human rights while also making some concessions out of consideration for concerns from the West.

A prominent example is the case of blind human rights activist Chen Guangcheng, who escaped from house arrest in Shandong Province during the Hu administration in April 2014, fled to the U.S. Embassy, and ended up effectively living as an exile in the United States.

After U.S.-China strategic and economic talks in which Chen’s treatment was a focal point, the Chinese government allowed him to leave China to study in the United States.

However, there is no sign of the Xi administration yielding in response to expressions of concern from the West about human rights in China.

Now that economic ties between China and the West are stronger, it is unlikely that the West will impose economic sanctions on China as it did after the Tiananmen incident.

A source related to the Chinese Communist Party reveals a change in attitude, saying: “The gap between China and the United States is narrowing in both the economic and military fields. We no longer need to consider so much what the United States says.”

A lawyer has suggested that human rights activities are at a crossroads, saying that “this year things are unusually quiet.”

The network of lawyers and activists has certainly been weakened after repeated crackdowns. There is a dominant view that activists who live in exile in the West are losing influence within China. The Xi regime is making strenuous efforts to eliminate foreign influence on nongovernmental organizations.

The human rights movement in China has been supported by the West as they share the common values of fundamental human rights and democracy. Perceiving it as a threat, the Communist regime has cracked down on the movement in the fear that these values might take hold within the nation.

China clearly perceives that the West attaches greater importance to economic relations and has no choice but to give less weight to human rights issues. This reality now presents the West with the issue of how to deal with a country so different from themselves going forward.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 13, 2016)


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