Breaking News:
Partner with ChinaAid to Free Yang Hua
Radio Free Asia

■ Chinese authorities in the troubled northwestern region of Xinjiang have enshrined in law a campaign preventing ethnic minority Muslim parents from "forcing" them to follow their faith.

From Nov. 1, regional legislation will take effect that adds "forcing or coercing children to participate in religious activities" to existing legislation preventing juvenile crime.

China already has a Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency Law dating back to 2012 that places criminal responsibility on the shoulders of parents, teachers and other responsible adults, should a minor become involved in crime. It makes no mention of religion.

Now, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region government has amended its regional version of the law to include religious activities, which are assumed to be linked to "separatism, extremism and terrorism," in the list of criminal acts a child may be drawn into.

Uyghur students study at a bilingual middle school in Hotan,
Xinjiang, in a file photo. AFP
It also provides for children who are found taking part in religious activities to be sent to "specialized schools for correction."

"No parents or other guardians or relatives of minors shall organize, induce or force minors to participate in religious activities," the law states.

"[They] shall not propagate extremist ideology ... lure minors into wearing extremist clothing or logos," it said.

The head of the politics and law office of the Aksu municipal education department told RFA's Uyghur Service the policies extend to family life restrictions that are "the same every part of the country."

"If anybody under 18 prays, fasts, learns religion, or follows someone to pray or go underground religious places to learn, these are all deemed illegal," said the official.

"Since underage kids do not have sound judgment and a sound sense of self control, parents should be responsible for them. If such things were to happen, parents would be punished," the official added.

Guidelines for schools

China has vowed to crack down on what it calls religious extremism in Xinjiang, and regularly conducts "strike hard” campaigns including random, nighttime police raids on Uyghur households, restrictions on Islamic practices, and curbs on the culture and language of the Uyghur people, including clothing and personal appearance.

Chinese authorities in Xinjiang routinely target men wearing beards and traditional robes and women wearing veils among the Turkic-speaking, mostly Muslim Uyghur ethnic group.

And while Beijing blames Uyghur extremists for a string of violent attacks and clashes in recent years, critics say repressive domestic policies are responsible for violence that has left hundreds dead since 2009.

Uyghur members of the ruling Chinese Communist Party and government employees have long been banned from carrying out key pillars of their faith, including fasting during Ramadan.

The new law also issues guidelines for the region's schools, requiring them to "guide minors to consciously resist ethnic separatism, extremism and terrorism."

However, rejection of separatism, extremism and terrorism appeared to be closely linked to the rejection of any religious belief whatsoever.

Schools should "advocate science and the pursuit of truth, while rejecting ignorance and superstition, to resist extremist fads on campus," it said.

Children who do not comply can be referred to "specialist schools" where they will receive "correction," the law says.

The law comes after authorities across the region, particularly in the Hotan (in Chinese, Hetian), Kashgar (Kashi), and Aksu (Akesu) prefectures, began to put heavy pressure on Uyghur parents and guardians of children and teens in 2014 to sign pledges promising not to allow them to take part in any religious activity.

Families whose children study the Quran or fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan have already been hit with hefty fines, but the new law is the first to target the children themselves for punishment.

‘Policy is a provocation’

Staff in educational institutions are also being required to sign pledges to avoid any sort of religious activity or else of loss their jobs, according to the World Uyghur Congress, an international organization that represents the interests of Uyghurs in Xinjiang and abroad.

And the controls remain after children turn 18, the legal threshold for adulthood in China, with Uyghurs often still needing the permission of their employers to practice as Muslims or to join a mosque.

Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress, said the law is aimed at eliminating religious belief among the next generation of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.

"With this law, China wants to put further restrictions in place to force Uyghurs to give up their religious beliefs," Raxit said.

"If the younger generation loses its faith as a result of coercion, then the next generation of Uyghurs won't have a religion," he said.

But he said the policy is unlikely to succeed.

"The Uyghurs' belief in Islamic education is inextricably linked to their culture," Raxit said. "When [Christians] in the West go to church, of course they take their kids along, and it's the same with Uyghurs and Islam."

"This policy is a provocation that will spark a further resistance and lead to more unrest in the region," he said.

Ilshat Hasan, president of the Uyghur American Association, told RFA the measures were "oppressive and extreme" and "clearly show that China is reaching its hands even into the family."

Xinjiang-based rights activist Hu Jun said the move is part of an ever-broadening security crackdown in Xinjiang.

"This is happening everywhere now, where they are forcing people not to do this, or not to take part in that," Hu said. "They will stop at nothing."

"They're going over the top now," he said. "It won't work, and it's going to cause a backlash of ill-will against the government."

Reported by Xin Lin for RFA's Mandarin Service, by Ho Shan for the Cantonese Service, and by Kurban Niyaz and Gulchehra Hoja for the Uyghur Service. Translated by by Luisetta Mudie and Mamatjan Juma. Written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

ChinaAid Media Team
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
For more information, click here
Radio Free Asia

■ A court in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong has upheld a bribery conviction against the former head of the rebel village of Wukan, amid accusations that the authorities forced him to "confess" on local television.

Lin Zuluan, former ruling Communist Party secretary for Guangdong's Wukan village, was handed a 37-month jail term and a U.S.$60,000 fine after a court in Foshan city found him guilty of taking bribes and of other charges last month.

Lin, 72, had led a grassroots land protest campaign over the unauthorized sale of Wukan's farmland by his predecessor in 2011.

But few in Wukan believed his confession, which came after two other protest leaders received similar convictions, to be genuine.

Detained former Wukan village party secretary Lin Zuluan is
shown in a file photo in 2014. AFP
Yu Pinjian, a defense lawyer hired by Lin's family but prevented from carrying out his instructions by police, told RFA the result didn't come as a surprise.

"It is extremely common to see initial rulings upheld on appeal in China's judicial system," Yu said. "We weren't surprised by this outcome."

But he said the appeal was worth bringing, in order to highlight illegal actions by the authorities in securing Lin's "confession."

"My personal opinion is that this is highly inappropriate in terms of due legal process," Yu said. "In the past few days the Supreme People's Court and Procuratorate and ... law enforcement agencies have issued a joint statement forbidding the use of such confessions as evidence of a person's guilt."

"So it's clear that these televised confessions don't fit in with those requirements."

Lawyers blocked

Henan-based rights lawyer Chang Boyang agreed, adding that the authorities had prevented from him exercising his right to a fair trial.

"Lin Zuluan's family hired several lawyers including Ge Yongxi and Yu Pinjian," Chang said. "But they were prevented from acting on his behalf by the judicial authorities and under huge pressure from police."

"Then, the authorities broke the rules by forcibly appointing a lawyer for him, [which isn't] supposed to happen according to the law."

"But China's law enforcement agencies currently regard their own laws as expendable trash, and blatantly break their own rules," he said.

Lin's arrest prompted weeks of daily protests by thousands of residents of Wukan, who said the charges against him were a form of political retaliation by officials in nearby Lufeng city.

Constitutional affairs scholar and former delegate to the National People's Congress (NPC) Yao Lifa said the result shows that little has changed in China, in spite of the election of Lin and other former protest leaders to their village leadership in 2012.

"There is generally no change at all in the original verdict on appeal," Yao said. "The only hope of a change in verdict lies with the emergence of new and very strong evidence. Then it might happen."

"Without that, there's no chance" he said.

Bribery charges

In 2011, the provincial government unexpectedly sided with Wukan, overriding officials in nearby Lufeng in a move that observers said was likely linked to attempts by then provincial leader Wang Yang to gain promotion.

The removal of Xue Chang and subsequent village elections were held up as a model of grassroots democracy in China at the time.

But since provincial leader Hu Chunhua took over in Guangdong in 2012, several former protest leaders from Wukan have been jailed on alleged "bribery" charges.

Last June, villagers persuaded Lin to mastermind a new land petition campaign, but he was detained before he could launch it, setting in motion more than 80 days of consecutive street protests.

In Hong Kong, a group of around a dozen protesters gathered outside Beijing's representative office in the former British colony, chanting: "There is no crime in fighting for your rights! Release the Wukan villagers now! Release Lin Zuluan!"

Pan-democratic lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki, who attended the protest, said a number of villagers remain in detention following a recent crackdown on daily demonstrations in Wukan over the summer.

"We call on the central government to release Lin Zuluan and all wrongfully detained Wukan villagers now behind bars," Kwok said.

"Countless Wukan villagers were beaten up and detained, and that makes us very angry," he said. "We call for the corrupt officials behind this to be arrested and given a heavy sentence."

Reported by Wong Lok-to for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Lucy Lu and Qiao Long for the Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

ChinaAid Media Team
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
For more information, click here
Christians meet in a house church. (Photo: China Aid)
China Aid
Reported in Chinese by Qiao Nong. Translated by Carolyn Song. Written in English by Brynne Lawrence.

(Zhengzhou, Henan—Oct. 21, 2016) After being ordered to move out of their building by Sept. 25 and destroy any “illegal structures,” a house church in China’s central Henan province continues to meet daily despite threats of arrest.

Recently, personnel from several government departments informed the members of Emmanuel Church that they lacked the appropriate documents to meet legally and threatened to arrest anyone who continued to attend the church’s services. According to Zhao, the woman in charge of the church, the local religious affairs bureau then issued a notice on Aug. 24, commanding the church to move out of its building by Sept. 25 and requiring its attendees to destroy any “illegal structures” within three days or face penalties.

“If we don’t move,” Zhao said, “they said they will throw away our materials, seats, and quite a lot of our other things.”

Despite these threats, Zhao says that the church now meets daily, sometimes even gathering at night or going out into the wilderness to study the Bible and pray.

Previously, China Aid reported government pressure against Emmanuel Church, as authorities tried to coerce them into joining the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM), an officially recognized network of churches governed by the Communist Party. The Emmanuel Church members refused.

When a religious affairs bureau official surnamed Bai saw China Aid’s report, she asked Zhao how foreign media obtained this information. Zhao denied contacting any overseas news sources, saying that she had disclosed the situation on WeChat and asked for prayer. Bai scolded her for posting about the incident.

China Aid reports abuses, such as those suffered by the members of Emmanuel Church, in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promote religious freedom in China.

ChinaAid Media Team
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
For more information, click here
The Epoch Times
By Frank Fang
October 19, 2016 AT 3:51 pm
Last Updated: October 19, 2016 6:17 pm

■ A Chinese civic movement to put former regime head Jiang Zemin on trial for his murderous anti-Falun Gong campaign, has attracted millions of supporters from the rest of East Asia. To date, more than 1.8 million people from Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Japan have signed a petition that calls upon China’s supreme judicial bodies to prosecute Jiang.

Falun Gong practitioners at a rally in front of the Chinese
embassy in New York City on July 3, 2015, to support the
global effort to sue Jiang Zemin. (Larry Dye/Epoch Times)
Jiang, aside from encouraging and benefiting politically from a staggering degree of corruption in the state and Communist Party apparatus during and after his time in power from 1989 to 2004, started the ongoing persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual practice in 1999. The bloody repression, often glossed over in the climate of China’s economic rise, has tens of millions of victims.

According to, a website that carries first-hand information about the persecution, over 209,800 Falun Gong practitioners from around the world have filed criminal complaints with the Chinese regime’s highest court and prosecuting body since mid-2014. The plaintiffs accuse Jiang of crimes against humanity and genocide.

Chinese President, Hu Jintao, (L) talks
with former President, Jiang Zemin, 
during a meeting on September 3, 
2005 in Beijing, China. 
(Andrew Wong/Getty Images)
According to Theresa Chu, Taiwanese human rights lawyer and coordinator of the petition drive in the Asia-Pacific region, the overwhelming majority of signatures came from people living in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, for a total of about 1.6 million. The action has been on for over a year, led by volunteers who solicit signatures from their friends, family, and strangers, often in person.

“If the Chinese regime does not put on trial Jiang Zemin according to its law, we can, in accordance with the supplementary rules of the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, ask the chief prosecutor to investigate,” Chu said in an interview with New York-based New Tang Dynasty Television.

Theresa Chu speaks with New Tang 
Dynasty. (NTD)
The nationwide persecution against Falun Gong, a mind-and-body discipline rooted in ancient Chinese traditions, began on July 20, 1999, when Jiang acted on his fears that the large number of adherents — 70 million according to one state survey — would undermine the reign of the Chinese Communist Party. Millions of Falun Gong practitioners have been thrown into prisons, ideological re-education centers, and labor camps, while being subjected to torture, forced labor and brainwashing.

Falun Gong practitioners exercise in Beijing, before the
persecution began on July 20, 1999. (
Investigations by human rights researchers suggest that over a million prisoners have been murdered by the authorities for their internal organs. A study published in June by David Kilgour, a former member of Canadian Parliament, David Matas, a Canadian lawyer, and American writer Ethan Gutmann found that organs harvested from Falun Gong prisoners made up the vast majority of the 1.5 million organ transplants in China since 2000.

Chu is not optimistic that the Chinese regime, at least not under its present one-party system, will carry out a serious investigation of the organ harvesting allegations, and neither would it send Jiang to the international criminal court.

A banner pasted at a public security
checkpoint in Beijing calls for the 
prosecution of Jiang Zemin. 
As for China’s announcement in September this year that it would work more closely with the United Nations Human Rights Council, Chu said any form of human rights cooperation would be meaningful only if the Chinese regime would end its 17-year persecution of Falun Gong and hand over evidence of Jiang’s crimes to the U.N., while allowing independent investigations in China.

“If China really wants to cooperate with the U.N.,” Chu said, “it should abandon its autocratic system and become a democratic country.”

Minghui reports that similar petitions are taking off within mainland China despite strict regime controls. In Chaoyang, a city of half a million in northern China’s Liaoning Province, over 30,000 local residents had signed the petition to bring Jiang to justice. Over 6,000 residents in Zhangjiakou and nearby areas in neighboring Hebei Province had also signed their names.

ChinaAid Media Team
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
For more information, click here
The Gospel Herald
By Leah Marieann Klett
Oct 20, 2016 12:01 pm EDT

■ A prominent Chinese pastor who was arrested for protesting the forced demolition of a local church has been released after enduring seven years in prison, where she was reportedly tortured.

According to persecution watchdog China Aid, Pastor Yang Rongli, who led the 50,000-member Linfen Church in Shaanxi province, and her husband Wang Xiaoguang were arrested in 2009 while traveling to Taiyuan, the provincial capital, to protest the demolition of a house church in their hometown.

Later that year, they were convicted of "gathering a mob to disturb public order" for holding a prayer rally on Sept. 14, the day after 400 military police raided the church's grounds. During the raid, more than 30 believers were seriously wounded and 17 buildings were destroyed.

Authorities sentenced Yang and Wang to seven and three years in prison, respectively, and fined the couple a total of 40,000 Yuan (U.S. $5,860).

New religious rules scheduled to be adopted in China on Oct.
7, 2016, will negatively affect the church's open community
there, warn Cathliocs. In addition, the rules will place hefty
financial fines on unapproved religious activities and severly
hamper local residents interaction with foreign supporters,
say opponents. CNS photo/Wu Hong
Yang was forced to serve the entirety of her sentence, despite her insistence that the charge was falsified, and was released last week. During her time in prison, the pastor was reportedly tortured and upon her release showed physical signs of the brutality she endured.

Despite suffering from two kidney stones, hepatitis, diabetes, and a heart problem, Yang was denied medical assistance during her time in prison, according to the Human Rights Commission. However, the pastor has reportedly forgiven her persecutors and was in good spirits regarding her freedom.

China is ranked 33rd on Open Door USA's World Watch List of countries where Christians face the most persecution. Over the past several years, hundreds of underground church members, priests, human rights lawyers, and other activists have been arrested by the Communist Party for protesting against the nationwide crackdown on churches.

Government workers have removed thousands of church rooftop crosses and bulldozed churches, calling them building code violations, though groups like China Aid have said that Communist Party officials are seeking to purposefully curb the growth of Christianity.

Nevertheless, Christianity continues to grow across China, and the country is on track to have the largest Christian population in the world by 2030.

"While we still feel the pain and suffering of our brothers and sisters in China, we have seen the Good News spark the rapid growth of Christianity," China Aid president Bob Fu told The Gospel Herald. "We have seen a great revival - more and more believers are becoming actively involved. I believe that in the end, the Communist Party will be called the 'Servant of the Lord.'"

ChinaAid Media Team
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
For more information, click here
Radio Free Asia

■ Chinese authorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang are requiring residents, who include the mostly Muslim Turkic-speaking Uyghur group, to hand in their passports to police by early next year amid ongoing travel restrictions specific to the troubled region.

The Shihezi municipal police department made the announcement, which comes after similar orders were issued in Xinjiang's Ili prefecture in April 2015, in a statement posted to its official social media accounts.

"Please hand in your passports for annual review at the police station in the district of your household registration, or at the Shihezi municipal police department, after which all passports will be held by the police department," the statement, dated Oct. 19, said.

Map showing location of Ili prefecture in Xinjiang. RFA
"Those who do not comply will have to bear the consequences, which include not being permitted to leave the country," said the statement, which was later deleted from the popular Twitter-like service Sina Weibo, returning a "Page Not Found" message on Thursday.

Last year, an April 30 notice issued by the ruling Chinese Communist Party's powerful political and legal affairs committee in Xinjiang's Ili prefecture made a similar order.

It was followed up last June 1 by a directive requiring all applicants for passports and other travel documents in Ili to supply a DNA sample, fingerprints, a voice-print sample, and a 3D body scan image.

The Shihezi rules appeared to be very similar, also requiring "biometric data" to be lodged with police before an application can be processed.

"All applicants for passports will in future be required to present themselves at their local police station for the collection of biometric data, before obtaining a form from the police entry and exit bureau," it said.

Feb. 16 deadline

An employee who answered the phone at the Shihezi police department entry and exit bureau on Thursdayconfirmed the new rules, saying they are currently being rolled out across the Xinjiang Uyghur AutonomousRegion.

"The official deadline for passports to be handed in ... is Feb. 16, 2017," the employee said.

"The policy applies across the whole of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region."

RFA's Uyghur Service found that in addition to Shihezi, several other local police departments in the Uyghur region, including Manaz, Kumul and Mindong, had issued orders for passport holders to return their documents.

In the Fuxing district of Kumul city police issued an "urgent notice" on Oct. 15 setting a deadline for passports to be turned in by Oct. 18. The Shihezi notice included a warning to residents stating "if you do not hand over your passports, bare the consequence yourself.”

In Manas, meanwhile, authorities told RFA they had stopped issuing new passports on Oct. 10 to make way for an electronic passport system update and they gave not date for when passport issuance would resume.

While the new rules are ostensibly universal, restrictions on passports have targeted ethnic minority groups in the past, making it harder for Uyghurs to book overseas vacations or go on the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, regional sources have told RFA.

Munich-based exile World Uyghur Congress (WUC) spokesman Dilxat Raxit said he believes the new rules are still designed to target Uyghurs, who have been portrayed by Beijing as potential terrorists after a wave of violentincidents hit the region following a crackdown on an initially peaceful protest in the regional capital, Urumqi, in July 2009.

"It's fairly clear that this policy, while appearing to apply to everyone, is actually aimed at Uyghurs," Raxit told RFA on Thursday, adding that the majority Han Chinese population had "become victims" in the process.

"The confiscation of people's passports reflects the hostile attitude of the Chinese government," Raxit said. "I hope that this extreme policy will attract the attention of the international community."

Harsh turn in policy seen

WUC Secretary General Dolkun Isa told RFA that ever since China claimed last year that they had simplified the passport application process, "we had reports that the people who need passports badly were rejected, but the people who do not need passports or who cannot go anywhere were given passports."

In most of China, residents are able to get a passport by filling out an application form and supplying their national ID card

But far more stringent rules are applied in ethnic minority regions where opposition to Chinese rule is strong, and where the authorities fear instability.

A resident of Shihezi told RFA on Thursday that the new rules had made life far less convenient for local people.

"I'm a little reluctant to hand in my passport, because now I'll have to get it back off the police if I want to leave the country," the resident said.

"We all know that these new rules are necessary, but there's a lot of complaining about it, because it's a lot more hassle."

He said that passport-holders wishing to take back their passports from police before travel are required to make the journey in person.

"This is going to inconvenience a lot of people here," the resident said.

Ilshat Hasan, president of Uyghur American Association, told RFA the passport policy signaled a harsh approach to Uyghur communities.

"I don’t think this policy will bring any benefit to the region. This will increase resentment and resistance in the region and this kind of harsh policy will create a large-scale exodus, as people will try to escape by different means," he said.

Reported by Ng Yik-tung and Sing Man for RFA's Cantonese Service, by Yang Fan for the Mandarin Service, and by Irade for the Uyghur Service. Translated by Mamatjan Juma and Luisetta Mudie. Written in English byLuisetta Mudie.

ChinaAid Media Team
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
For more information, click here
The Gospel Herald
By Leah Marieann Klett
Oct 19, 2016 10:25 am EDT

■ A prominent house church pastor in China's central Guizhou province is awaiting prosecution after being arrested and charged with "divulging state secrets" amid an ongoing crackdown on Christians in the country.

According to persecution watchdog China Aid, Pastor Su Tianfu, who is one of several Christians fromHuoshi Church swept into legal proceedings as part of a government crackdown, consulted his lawyer after obtaining a notice that his case would be transferred to the Procuratorate.

The attorney informed the pastor, who has been under constant surveillance since last December, that this marked the end of official investigation on his case and that it would be given to the Procuratorate for prosecution.

China Aid reports that the pastor's troubles began last year, when the government issued an administrative penalty notice addressed to him, accountant and chairwoman of the church's deaconsZhang Xiuhong, and church member Liang Xuewu on Oct. 21, 2015. The document accused them of changing the approved usage of an office from "business operations" to religious activities, despite having rented the space to hold church services.

A house church pastor leads congregants in prayer
Wayne Mcallister, ABC News
The government ordered church leaders to revert the space to its original use within 15 days or incur a fine that would accumulate thousands of dollars per day. However, officials froze the church's bank account after Zhang attempted to withdraw funds at her beauty shop, leaving them unable to pay the fine.

Because of the church's failure to pay the fine, the authorities recently doubled it before charging Su with "divulging state secrets."

"How can I have state secrets?" the pastor asked. "This is for the report received by foreign media on how the churches are being persecuted. I forwarded the article on WeChat. A brother took a snapshot of this report and wrote a prayer letter. I forwarded the prayer letter."

The pastor's imprisonment comes as the Communist government continues to tighten its grip on Christianity; over the past year, up to 1,700 churches have been demolished or had their crosses removed in Zhejiang alone province, and a significant number of pastors and human rights lawyers have been arrested and incarcerated.

As earlier reported, the Chinese government recently implemented harsh new regulations intended to suppress independent religious organizations as part of a general and ongoing crusade against the "three evils"- separatism, terrorism, and religious extremism.

Nevertheless, the growth rate of Christianity in China has been put at 7 percent a year by David Aikman, author of Jesus in Beijing, a former TIME Magazine bureau chief in Beijing, and the country is on track to have the largest Christian population in the world by 2030.

ChinaAid Media Team
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
For more information, click here
Radio Free Asia

■ Authorities in southern China have tried two members of an unofficial Protestant "house church" on spying charges, while a third has been tried for "illegal business activities," lawyers and church members said on Wednesday.

Wang Yao and Yu Lei stood trial on Monday and Wednesday at the Guiyang Intermediate People's Court in the southwestern province of Guizhou on charges of "deliberately revealing state secrets," following an ongoing crackdown on their Huoshi Church by police and religious affairs officials.

"Wang Yao's trial was on Monday and Yu Lei's was on Wednesday," a fellow Huoshi church member who asked to remain anonymous told RFA.

"Wang Yao's family weren't allowed to attend the trial, and neither were two lawyers hired by her family to defend her," said the church member, who is under close surveillance by police and local officials.

"There have been people watching me in the past few days from my neighborhood committee and the local police station," the church member said.

"They follow me wherever I go. The police have placed very tight controls on all Huoshi Church members."

'Illegal business'

In Guangzhou, Li Hongmin stood trial on Monday for "running an illegal business" after being accused of printing more than 11,000 copies of 125 different Protestant tracts for distribution.

Cross is shown on a church in Zhejiang province, July 27,
2015. Photo courtesy of a church member.
Li pleaded not guilty, and Beijing-based rights lawyers Li Boguang and Liu Peifu argued that Li was merely exercising a constitutional right to freedom of religion.

Li's trial was attended by around 20 close relatives, including his wife and parents, Guangfu Church pastor Ma Ke told RFA on Wednesday, adding that he was denied entry to the courtroom.

"I asked them why they wouldn't let me in, because I'd applied to add my name to the list a long time ago, and they said they didn't know, but they had to go by the list of names they had, and mine wasn't on it," Ma said.

"I just waited outside the court instead ... The lawyers told me that the material Li Hongmin had printed was all for internal circulation within the church," he said.

Torture, ill-treatment

Meanwhile, lawyers for Huoshi's pastor Yang Hua said he is suffering from a number of "serious health problems" following torture and ill-treatment during his detention.

Yang "has been suffering from serious health conditions and is suffering from liver pain along with various other serious diseases," lawyers Chen Jiangang and Zhao Yonglin told the U.S.-based Christian rights group ChinaAid.

"Prosecutors visited him twice, applied pressure to his feet, and repeatedly threatened to kill him and harm his family members if he failed to confess his supposed crimes," the group quoted the lawyers as saying.

Yang's lawyers said they plan to sue the prosecution team for "using torture to extract a confession."

ChinaAid said fellow Huoshi pastor Su Tianfu is also facing charges of "revealing state secrets," linked to reports on the persecution of Protestant house churches in China that were forwarded to foreign media organizations.

Controls on religion

The ruling Chinese Communist Party, which embraces atheism, exercises tight controls over any form of religious practice among its citizens.

China is home to an estimated 68 million Protestants, of whom 23 million worship in state-affiliated churches, and some nine million Catholics, 5.7 million of whom are in state-sponsored organizations.

The administration of President Xi Jinping regards Christianity as a dangerous foreign import, with officials warning last year against the "infiltration of Western hostile forces" in the form of religion.

A crackdown on Protestant churches in the eastern province of Zhejiang has widened and intensified to other regions of China during the past year, church members have told RFA.

Last month, China's cabinet, the State Council, released a draft set of draconian rules setting out measures aimed at eliminating unofficial Christian worship and "separatists" among Tibetans and Muslim Uyghurs.

They include bans on preaching or running religious events in schools and on "providing religious services online."

Individuals and groups are also prohibited from "organizing citizens to attend religious training, conferences, and activities overseas," according to a copy of the draft rules seen by RFA.

Some of the rules call on government agencies to "take precautions against separatism, terrorism, and infiltration by foreign forces."

They also impose restrictions on the acceptance of teaching posts in foreign countries, while a clause forbidding "religious activities in unapproved sites" calls on local governments to extend a nationwide crackdown on house churches not affiliated with the Three-Self Patriotic Association of government-approved churches.

Shrinking space

Beijing-based Xu Yonghai, who heads the Beijing Sheng'ai Protestant Family Church Fellowship, said the new rules represent a worsening of the environment for religious worship in China.

"The space for those of us with religious beliefs is getting smaller and smaller," Xu told RFA on Wednesday. "They are still tolerating smaller meetings held in people's homes, but they won't allow us to meet in large venues."

He said the authorities usually find some excuse to keep up the pressure even then.

"They'll say we can't meet at Zhang's house; we have to go to Li's house, or that we can't meet on a Sunday, and we have to meet on a different day," Xu said.

"We're hanging in there," he said.

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

ChinaAid Media Team
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
For more information, click here
Radio Free Asia

■ Chinese police in Sichuan’s Ngaba county detained and beat a Tibetan monk this week, leaving him hospitalized with severe injuries after he staged a solitary protest opposing Beijing’s rule in Tibetan areas, according to a local source.

Lobsang Tsultrim, a monk in Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) county’s Kirti monastery, was taken into custody at around 1:00 p.m. on Oct. 17 after shouting slogans while walking along a street in Ngaba county’s main town, a resident of the area told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

Map showing Ngaba county in Sichuan province. RFA
“He called out for Tibetan freedom and for the long life of [exiled spiritual leader] the Dalai Lama as he walked, and when he arrived at the street in front of the Tibetan Language Middle School he was stopped by police and taken away,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Tsultrim was then severely beaten by police and held overnight at a court house in the town, the source said.

“He was rushed to Ngaba Hospital the next day and is now reported to be in critical condition,” he said.

On Oct. 18, a group of Chinese police went to Kirti to question monks about the incident, and the presence of police and security officers has now been strengthened throughout the town, RFA’s source said.

Repeated protests

Ngaba’s Kirti monastery and the county’s main town have been the scene of repeated self-immolations and other protests in recent years by monks, former monks, and nuns opposed to Chinese rule.

Two days before Tsultrim’s protest, Kirti monastery had begun a four-day event marking completion of a lavish new residence for the monastery’s abbot, who lives in Dharamsala, India, seat of Tibet’s government in exile.

Restrictions imposed on the celebration by authorities, including the banning of local students then on their holiday break, “had become unbearable, and these may have triggered [Tsultrim’s] protest,” RFA’s source said.

Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing’s rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008.

A total of 145 Tibetans living in China have set themselves ablaze in self-immolations since the wave of fiery protests began in 2009, with most protests featuring calls for Tibetan freedom and the Dalai Lama’s return from India, where he has lived since escaping Tibet during a failed national uprising in 1959.

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

ChinaAid Media Team
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
For more information, click here
Gospel Herald
By Leah Marieann Klett
Oct 18, 2016 10:35 am EDT

■ A Christian leader in China's southern Guangdong province arrested for printing religious materials faces criminal sentencing after standing trial today, a persecution watchdog has revealed.

According to China Aid, Li Hongmin, a member of a house church in Guangzhou, was detained earlier this year for "illegal business operations" after he printed various Christian booklets, including the popular devotional Streams in the Desert.

Authorities confiscated these printings, as well as Li's cell phone and other personal items before raiding his house. A source told China Aid that the authorities told Li that he would only be held for two hours and would be allowed to go home. However, they did not let him go home but detained him instead.

At the time, Li's wife expressed shock and disbelief after hearing of the severity of the charges that were made against her husband, arguing that the materials being printed out by Li was far from being "illegal" or dangerous.

"The materials we printed were not heresies. They were not opposed to the Communist Party in any way. On the contrary, they teach people to help others, to love their fellow countrymen, their home and their country," she said.

During the trial, Li's lawyers, Li Baiguang and Liu Peifu, echoed such a sentiment and upheld their client's innocence. The court has yet to issue a verdict, according to China Aid.

Photo: People pray at a small Protestant underground church
that operates in a shopfront in Beijing
Wayne Mcallister, ABC News
Since assuming office in March 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping has shown discomfort with the country's 67 million to 100 million Christians, and in April told his Communist Party members that they must be "unyielding Marxist atheists" who will control Christians and other religious groups in the country.

Thus, since 2014, the Communist regime has been targeting Christians and demolishing churches, deeming the buildings "illegal." The government has demolished more than 200 churches and removed over 2,000 crosses in China's Zhejiang province - known as "China's Jerusalem" due to its large Christian population - in an effort to limit Christianity's influence in the region.

The persecution is expected to only increase: Last month, China enacted laws that tighten control over foreign clergy and online religious material and impose fines of up to $30,000 for "illegal religious activities," such as unauthorized pilgrimages. The new regulations state that "citizens enjoy religious freedom" in China and that "no organization can discriminate against citizens who believe in a religion."

"Any religious group or religious individual should not use religion to bring threats against national security," reads a two-page letter explaining the new regulations. The government added that "religious institutions or any religious publication should not use the Internet to fuel protest, create national division or terrorist activity."

China watcher Brent Fulton told CBN that officials have long viewed Christianity as a Western tool that undermines and tries to infiltrate China: "In these new regulations there are things that specifically mention foreign infiltration," Fulton, with China Source, said. "I think that's what they are most concerned about--the influence of the West as they see it happening through the church."

Dr. David Curry, president of persecution watchdog Open Doors USA, told CBN that the new laws do have some common sense religious regulations that could protect the rights of Christians, but expressed concern over the long term impact they'll have on China's Christian population.

"Many people within China view Christianity and their rapid growth as a threat to national unity," he said

ChinaAid Media Team
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
For more information, click here
Escorted by government officials, Yang Rongli leaves
Shanxi Women's prison. (Photo: China Aid)
China Aid
By Brynne Lawrence

Updated on Oct. 21, 2016, at 9:22 a.m. 

(Linfen, Shanxi—Oct. 19, 2016) After seven years in official custody, the pastor of a megachurch in China’s northern Shanxi province was released on Oct. 10.

On the morning of Sept. 13, 2009, the local government dispatched more than 500 police officers and casually dressed personnel, who broke into churches and a Christian shoe factory. They beat approximately 100 Christians, and many were injured or fell unconscious. 10 days later, authorities dispatched bulldozers and excavators to destroy multiple buildings, while government employees smashed televisions, refrigerators, cars, kitchenware, and other church property.

Afterward, Pastor Yang Rongli and her husband, Wang Xiaoguang, were arrested while traveling to Taiyuan, the provincial capital, to protest the demolition of a house church in Linfen, their hometown.

Yang Rongli poses next to a sign for Shanxi Women's Prison,
where she was incarcerated. (Photo: China Aid)
On Nov. 25, 2009, they were convicted of “gathering a mob to disturb public order” for holding a prayer rally on Sept. 14. Authorities sentenced Yang and Wang to seven and three years in prison, respectively, and fined the couple a total of 40,000 Yuan (U.S. $5,860). Five days later, they were ordered to serve in a labor camp for two years.

Yang was forced to serve the entirety of her sentence, despite her insistence that the charge was falsified.

Upon release, Yang showed physical signs of the brutality she endured while incarcerated. Her hair grayed due to malnutrition and a lack of sunlight, and at the time of the report she suffered from two kidney stones, diabetes, and a heart problem.

Despite her ailments, she was reported to be in good spirits regarding her freedom, and has no complaints or resentment.

Due to continued government restrictions against her, Yang is unable to receive interviews at this time.

China Aid reports on abuses, such as those suffered by Yang Rongli, in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promote religious freedom in China.

ChinaAid Media Team
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
For more information, click here
Human Rights Watch
October 17, 2016 1:53pm EDT

■ (New York, October 17, 2016) – The Chinese government should immediately free Swedish bookseller Gui Minhai, who disappeared from Thailand a year ago today and reappeared in custody in China, Human Rights Watch said today. The Chinese government has provided little information about the enforced disappearances and detentions of Gui and four other bookseller colleagues in Thailand, Hong Kong, and China.

“A full year has gone by, yet all that’s clear is that Chinese authorities have grossly violated the rights of the five booksellers both within and outside China’s borders,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch. “China’s willingness to snatch people in Thailand and Hong Kong with the apparent involvement of their governments adds to the concerns.”

Members from the pro-democracy Civic Party carry a
portrait of Gui Minhai (L) and Lee Bo during a protest
outside the Chinese Liaison Office in Hong Kong, China on
January 19, 2016. © 2015 CCTV
Gui Minhai, who co-owns the Hong Kong Mighty Current publishing house, which issues books about mainland political intrigues, went missing from Pattaya, Thailand, on October 17, 2015. In mid-January, CCTV, China’s state television network, broadcast a “confession” by Gui in which he said he had returned voluntarily to the mainland to face charges related to a 2003 drunk-driving incident. Subsequent state media reports said Gui was being investigated for other unspecified “criminal activities,” and that others have been investigated in connection with him. Swedish diplomats have been allowed two brief visits with Gui. Neither his family nor the Swedish government has been informed of any formal charges against him, nor the formal place of his detention, rendering him forcibly disappeared.

Enforced disappearances are defined under international law as the arrest or detention of a person by state officials or their agents followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty, or to reveal the person’s fate or whereabouts. Enforced disappearances violate a range of fundamental human rights protected under international law, including prohibitions against arbitrary arrest and detention; torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment; and extrajudicial execution. Disappearances are a continuing offense that cause anguish and suffering for the victim’s family members.

Following Gui’s abduction in Thailand, four other staff members of the Causeway Bay Bookstore, owned by Mighty Current, also went missing between October and December 2015. One, British national Lee Po, disappeared from Hong Kong. Although his travel documents remained in Hong Kong, Lee later resurfaced in China, saying that he had gone there voluntarily “using his own methods” in order to “cooperate in a judicial investigation.” Three other booksellers and Hong Kong residents – Lui Por, Cheung Chi Ping, and Lam Wing Kee – were detained in the mainland. These booksellers have since been released; only Gui remains detained in China.

On June 16, 2016, one of the booksellers, Lam Wing Kee, held a news conference in Hong Kong revealing details about his detention in China. He said the authorities interrogated him about the publisher’s operations, including information about the books’ authors and readers, and forced him to read from a scripted “confession.”

In general, the circumstances surrounding the abductions and detentions of Gui Minhai and Lee Po remain unclear. The Thai government said, in January 2016, that it had no record of Gui leaving the territory. Although Hong Kong government officials have met with mainland Chinese officials about the booksellers’ case, neither has publicly explained whether Lee was abducted from Hong Kong. Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung had saidthat it would be “unacceptable for mainland law enforcement to operate in Hong Kong” because it “violates the Basic Law,” the territory’s functional constitution. Yet Leung has never clarified whether any mainland security agents operate in Hong Kong.

The Causeway Bay booksellers were not the first to be targeted by mainland authorities for their sale of politically opinionated books in Hong Kong, Human Rights Watch said. In May 2014, Yao Wentian, 75, chief editor of Morning Bell Press, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for “smuggling” in Shenzhen. In July 2016, Wang Jianmin, a US citizen and editor of magazines Multiple Face and New-Way Monthly, was sentenced to five years in prison in Shenzhen for “operating an illegal business,” together with his associate Guo Zhongxiao.

A dozen governments have publicly condemned the Chinese government for the booksellers’ case, including a 12-country joint statement delivered at the Human Rights Council in March, as well as a European Parliament resolution adopted in February.

“Although the booksellers’ case has generated considerable condemnation from foreign governments, none has imposed meaningful consequences on Beijing for its arbitrary arrests of foreign citizens,” Richardson said. “This failure to do so may only embolden the Chinese government.”

ChinaAid Media Team
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
For more information, click here
By Thomas D. Willams, PH.D.
15 Oct 2016

■ In a new set of education rules, the Chinese Communist Party is urging citizens to spy on their neighbors and report parents who raise their children in a religious faith or have them attend religious services.

In the northwestern region of Xinjiang, the government released the new education norms on Wednesday, with special emphasis on religious formation, according to the U.S.-based human rights group China Aid.

The new rules, which will go into effect on November 1, stipulate that parents cannot “organize, lure or force minors into attending religious activities,” or force them to wear religious dress or symbols. Moreover, they cannot even “tolerate” that children attend “underground scripture studies.”

If parents are seen to be encouraging religion, “any group or person has the right to stop these kinds of behaviors and report them to the public security authorities,” the norms state.

While China officially guarantees the right to religious freedom, the Communist Party tightly regulates religious activities, including religious education, and discourages minors from receiving religious formation.

Chinese law prohibits children under the age of 18 from receiving any religious education, and the government approved Christian church, the “Three-Self Patriotic Movement,” explicitly bans its members from bringing their children up in the Christian faith, labeling the practice “brainwashing.”

Earlier this year, the ruling Communist Party issued an ultimatum to parents that if children do not stop attending church, they will be barred from attending college or entering the military.

A government office in the central Guizhou province sent a notice to all of the schools in the area announcing the decision, in an effort to discourage citizens from attending independent house churches and to switch to a church under government control.

The severe policy of the ruling party has insisted on government dominion even over personal matters such as faith and family size.

At the time, government officials forced members of the Huaqiu Church into signing a document stating that they would no longer take minors to church. Now, Christian children attending the church are no longer eligible for the college entrance exam or admittance into a military academy. Moreover, parents who take their children to church are subject to punishment.

Authorities also announced the termination of welfare and social security benefits for Christians who are caught attending church services.

A local source said that practicing Christians would no longer be eligible for social security benefits or old-age insurance. County officials “called on the government in the towns and villages to order believers to sign [a guarantee], stating that if they gathered again, their welfare would be cut off,” the source said.

The Chinese government has ratcheted up its persecution of “unofficial” religion not under government control, especially against Christianity, which is experiencing dramatic growth in the country.

In its annual report on international freedom released in August, the U.S. State Department denounced China’s continued suppression of religious liberty.

Despite China’s official policy of “freedom of religious belief,” the report states, in practice, “the government exercised state control over religion and restricted the activities and personal freedom of religious adherents when these were perceived to threaten state or Chinese Communist Party (CCP) interests.”

ChinaAid Media Team
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
For more information, click here
Radio Free Asia

■ A Chinese woman who helped to expose the abuse of women inmates at the infamous Masanjia labor camp has fled China to seek political asylum in Thailand, she told RFA in a recent interview.

Hao Wei, who hails from the northeastern province of Liaoning, arrived in Bangkok earlier this month, and has applied for refugee status with the United Nations, she said.

"I got here on Oct. 10, and went to fill out the forms at the U.N. High Commission For Refugees (UNHCR) [onThursday]," she said. "They have already called me with an appointment for me to submit all of my evidence."

Late-stage cancer patient Hao, who is in Thailand with her daughter, said her case is based on 10 years of persecution at the hands of the authorities after she persisted in complaints about local government officials.
Former detainees of the Masanjia Women's RTL camp in an
undated photo. Photo courtesy of CHRD

"I am arguing that I was detained, sent to labor camp and illegally locked up in a black jail in a hotel basement," she said. "After I got out of the labor camp I discovered I had cancer, and now it's already at an advanced stage."

She said she had received nothing but stonewalling and abuse back home in China.

"Not only did they not address or resolve my complaint; they even filed a report to the central government claiming that my case was resolved and closed," she said.

Daily torture and abuse

Hao's petitioning activities resulted in her incarceration in Masanjia labor camp for nearly a year, during which time she was forced to work at least nine hours a day.

"I was locked up in a labor camp on Jan. 9, 2012, and released on Dec. 30 the same year," Hao told RFA. "In the winters we would have to get up before dawn and start work, and come back in the evening by moon and starlight."

Former inmates have detailed a regime of daily torture and abuse, failure of medical care, and grueling overtime at Masanjia, a police-run facility where women regarded as troublemakers by the authorities were sent without trial for up to four years at a time.

China's National People's Congress (NPC) voted on Dec. 28, 2013, to end the system of administrative punishments known in Chinese as "re-education through labor," or laojiao, but lawyers and inmates' families say many of the camps are still in operation under a different name.

In 2014, former Masanjia inmate Liu Hua was criminally detained after she took part in a harrowing documentary that exposed widespread abuses at the camp.

In the film, titled "Above the Ghosts' Heads: The Women of Masanjia Labor Camp" and directed by Du Bin, Liu described how camp guards beat the female detainees, used electric batons to shock their breasts, inserted the batons and poured chilli peppers into their vaginas and put them into various torture devices such as "the Death Bed" and "the Tiger's Bench."

Hao is now living with a cancer diagnosis, while many of her former fellow inmates at Masanjia have already died of various cancers, according to Beijing-based rights activist Li Wei.

"[Hao] used to talk about wanting to leave the country, partly because the standard of medical care was higher," Li said. "She also hoped she'd be able to do some human rights work."

Under pressure in Thailand

Chinese political asylum-seekers are continuing to flee to military junta-ruled Thailand in spite of a growing willingness by authorities there to detain and repatriate refugees, who now feel increasingly vulnerable.

Last November, Chongqing-based activists Dong Guangping and Jiang Yefei were handed back to Chinese authorities in a move that drew strong criticism from the U.N., which had already classified them as genuine political refugees.

They are now in criminal detention in Chongqing, where they face subversion charges, while their families have been resettled in Canada.

In a further indication that the country is no longer the safe haven it once was for Chinese dissidents, Tianjin democracy activist Liu Xiaoying was beaten up on the streets of Bangkok on Oct. 3 by unidentified men, he told RFA.

"I think this was planned; they'd prepared for it," Liu told RFA on Friday. "I think it was intended as some kind of warning."

Fellow Thailand-based asylum-seeker Li Minwei said he was subjected to a similar attack outside a 7-11 convenience store in Bangkok on Wednesday by two unidentified men riding electric bicycles who tried to talk to him and them punched him when he gestured to show he didn't understand.

"We feel very helpless and afraid here," Li told RFA. "We dare not fight back; we just have to walk away."

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Hai Nan for the Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

ChinaAid Media Team
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
For more information, click here
Su Tianfu (left) sits with the mother-
in-law of fellow Huoshi Church pastor
Yang Hua, who is currently
incarcerated. (Photo: China Aid)
China Aid
Reported in Chinese by Qiao Nong. Translated by Carolyn Song. Written in English by Brynne Lawrence.

(Guiyang, Guizhou—Oct. 17, 2016) A prominent house church pastor in China’s central Guizhou province awaits prosecution after receiving news on Sept. 14 that his case would be transferred to the Procuratorate.

Pastor Su Tianfu, who is one of several Christians from Huoshi Church swept into legal proceedings as part of a government crackdown, consulted his lawyer after obtaining the notice. The attorney informed him that this marked the end of official investigation on his case and that it would be given to the Procuratorate for prosecution.

Su, who has been under constant government surveillance since Dec. 19, 2015, first came under scrutiny when the government issued an administrative penalty notice addressed to him, accountant and chairwoman of the church’s deacons Zhang Xiuhong, and church member Liang Xuewu on Oct. 21, 2015. The document accused them of changing the approved usage of an office from “business operations” to religious activities, despite having rented the space to hold church services.

The government demanded that they revert the space to its original use within 15 days or incur a fine that would accumulate 12,960 Yuan (U.S. $2,030) per day. However, officials froze the church’s bank account after Zhang attempted to withdraw funds at her beauty shop, leaving them without a means to pay the fine. In January, the amount totaled 110,296 Yuan (U.S. $16,768.00), and Su filed an appeal, which was rejected.

Because of their failure to pay the fine, the authorities recently doubled it.

Following this indictment, Su was charged with “divulging state secrets.” When asked about the validity of this claim, he said, “How can I have state secrets? This is for the report received by foreign media on how the churches are being persecuted. I forwarded the article on WeChat. A brother took a snapshot of this report and wrote a prayer letter. I forwarded the prayer letter.”

China Aid exposes abuses, such as those suffered by Su Tianfu and Huoshi Church, in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promote religious freedom in China.

ChinaAid Media Team
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
For more information, click here

EU Today
October 16th, 2016.

■ Bob Fu is one of the leading voices in the world for persecuted faith communities in China. Born and raised in China, he and his wife were forced to flee religious persection, and were accepted as refugees in the United States in 1997.

In 2002 he established China Aid, a non-profit human rights organisation. with the purpose of exposing religious persecution, and to equip people to encourage the advancement of religious freedom and the rule of law in China.

Bob is one of those people who truly values the concepts of freedom, democracy, and religious tolerance. In 1989 he was a student leader at Tiananman Square.

EU Today was allowed a private interview with him, following his recent appearence before the European Parliament in Brussels.

I asked him, does the Chinese government single out Christianity, or are all religions subject to persecution? If so, what is it about religion that the government is so scared of?

“Religious persecution is not only directed at Christians. The Communist Party’s policy on religion covers all those that may be seen as encouraging independent thought, or that may been perceived as being not under the total control of the Chinese regime, and who are therefore seen as a a threat. If, for example, you are a Buddhist, and express loyalty to the Dalai Lama, if you are active then you will be persecuted. If you are a Uyghar Muslim in Xinjiang province, you could be treated as a seperatist and persecuted.

Of course many know about Falun Gong. They are a quasi-religious group that have been persecuted for practising their beliefs since 1999. At least 3000 have been tortured to death. Also, if you are Catholic, your loyalty to the Pope will make you a target. These persecutions date from the time of Chairman Mao.

Since Xi Jinping took power in 2012, Christianity has been singled out as a national security threat, and is the target of concentrated persecution. The government has forbidden students to celebrate Christmas, for example, and since 2012 over 2000 churches’ crosses were forcefully demolished or burnt with almost 100 churches destroyed.

Everyone is a suspect in the eyes of the Communist Party.”

I asked Bob what was it that made him make the decision that he, personally, had to take a stand against the status quo in China. Why him?

“I have always had a yearning for change. As a child I witnessed how the poverty and vulnerability of my family dictated our lives. My mother was a beggar from the 1950s to the early 60s, during Mao’s man-made ‘Great Famine’ (1958-62). During this period, 20 - 30 million people died, so she was a survivor. But she had to beg for food to look after my elder brother and sister. As a result of this hardship she contracted Lung disease, through having to eat leaves, the roots of trees, and many unclean things. Always she had to feed her children first.

I remember one day as a child in elementary school I returned home and learned that my mother was dying. My sister was crying, and so we went to the local doctor to beg for medicine to help her, but the doctor’s wife just closed the door in our faces. We felt that the doctor knew that we were so poor that we couldn’t pay anything, so he refused to rescue our mom.

It made me ask “how can I change this?” I thought that maybe money was the issue, so I wanted to become a millionaire; I thought to be rich is the solution.

“Then I went to High School, which was some 50 miles away, and so we could only go home once a week. We walked 50 miles there and back, it took the whole day. And when I got back home, I would hear the villagers complain that the electricity company only released the electricity after the villagers fell asleep, when they didn’t need it. They called it “electricity for the naked!”

I asked why, and I was told that it was because our village had no high ranking Communist Party connections, and no money to bribe the electricity company to provide power. So that made me change my mind about how to change China: I realised that being a millionaire might not be enough, to change anything you need to be a Communist Party official, so that is what I tried to do, to change things.

To actually take the first step to becoming an activist in China, or indeed any country ruled by dictatorship, is a dangerous thing. I asked Bob when did that moment come for him, when did he first become a political activist?

“It was when I got involved in the students movement in 1989, when the Tiananmen Square movement started. I felt I wanted to lead the movement, to make a real change.

I had been in university since 1987, I was a freshman studying English, and as such we were exposed to English literature, and so were already considered to be a little radical.

I was reading Time and Newsweek, and from our American teachers we were picking up some liberal ideas. I became a fan of Gorbechev, and I was planning to start a demonstration even before the student’s movement started. I even submitted a detailed plan to the Communist Party propaganda office - I was a little naive. My protest was to fight for an increase in teacher’s salaries, as they were treated so poorly, but then I was of course rebuked.

“When the Beijing student’s movement started I thought that change was on the way; really we could make a difference. Initially our platform was anti-corruption. At that time the corruption was already very messy, but of course compared to now it was small potatoes! And then we began to focus on issues ofdemocracy, freedom, and human rights. We made our flag, and we headed for Tiananman Square, and we had a whole day ahead of us.

” When we arrived it was a very exciting moment, an inspirational moment. There were tens of thousands of students from all over China; every university had its flag.

We all know of the horrors that were to ensue, but at the time the students were full of hope, with no idea of what was to come. I asked if there was a point at which Bob realised things were getting out of hand.

” At that point Zhao Ziyang, the Chief of the Communist Party, was showing symathy, but we had heard, indeed seen, that themilitary was being massed outside Beijing, indeed we saw them outside the city from the windows of our train as we arrived. Soon we heard that the tanks were coming into Beijing. At that time we did not believe that our People’s Government could send our People’s Liberation Army to kill their own people. We thought the soldiers may have rubber bullets, to scare us, but they were real bullets, to kill us.

“We had heard some reports from ‘Voice of America’, the only source of real information that we had at the time, along with Radio Asia and the BBC, that there was some sort of power struggle going on, and that martial law had been declared.

“I was lucky, or should I say blessed, that my girlfriend, now my wife, was taken very ill from drinking the unclean water that was supplied for us, and she was hospitalised. I had to comfort her and to look after her, and because of this we both escaped the massacre.”

After being at the very centre, and having survived such momentous events, I wondered how now, 27 years later, he sees the events.

“At the time of the massacre I had not yet become a Christian, I became a Christian only after the massacre, after the Communist Party took its revenge against me. They put me under interrogation, it was to become the most resentful and most hateful time of my life, and it was this period when, with the influence of our American missionary teachers, that I was to become a follower of Christ. Now in retrospect I see the events of 1989 as one of the most tragic episodes in Chinese history, when hundreds, mostly young people, were massacred.

“The Chinese government is trying to erase the memory: 80-90% of Chinese students today know nothing of the massacre. I think that one day the Communist Party must face justice, maybe along the lines of the truth and reconciliation process that took place in South Africa after the end of Apartheid.

” As a Christian I do now see the events in a different perspective. A redemptive perspective. In a way, this tragedy has become a turning point in Chinese history.”

And was it worth the sacrifice? The loss of so much life? Did the events of 1989 awaken the west to the true face of the Chinese Communist Party?

“The way in which the Chinese regime is being perceived by the liberal west - they are too quick to forget. The way the regime is going now is in some ways the way of Hitler’s Nazi Germany. They are controlling the churches, and appeasing the west. Even the UK and the US remain silent, but they should understand that they are facing evil. You can’t stay neutral. If you do, then you are an accomplice, a party to what is going on.

“When the Chinese President visited the UK, I was there in London. The Red Flag was flying everywhere, even outside Buckingham Palace, to me this is very scary.”

One of the main precepts of Christian theology is that of sacrifice. We think about Tianenmen Square, and about so many examples of repression and murder of people struggling for freedom. How much more do we have to sacrifice?

“A characteristic of human nature is that we tend to choose the easy route, the comfortable road. But Christ said, if you want to follow me you must bear your cross. The pastor who baptised me spent 16 years in prison. The pastor who married my wife and myself in Bejing spent over 22 years in prison, simply for his faith. Some pastors are serving life sentences.

“I hope the politicians will not easily forget all the blood that has been shed. I feel very sad sometimes to see the western politicians from the free world trying to justify their dancing with the wolf, wining and dining with dictators, and all of a sudden they forget how much blood there is under the red carpets that are rolled out for them. In these circumstances, I see no reason not to assume that these atrocities will happen again.

“Despite the imprisonment, the torture, the degredation, the pastors of China refuse to sway from the truth. Its estimated that by 2030 the number of Christians will reach 220-230 million. At that point, China will become the largest Christian nation in the world.”

China Aid website:

Follow EU Today on Social media:

Gary Cartwright.

Gary Cartwright is the publisher of EU today. He has many years of experience working in the EU institutions, and is a former consulting editor of the long established and highly respected journal EU Reporter.

ChinaAid Media Team
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
For more information, click here