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VIDEO: China Aid president Bob Fu's full congressional testimony released

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

China Aid Association

Updated at 3:20 CDT, May 27, 2014.

(Washington—May 22, 2014) China Aid founder and president Bob Fu testified today at a congressional hearing held by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organization, entitled “Protecting Religious Freedom: U.S. Efforts to Hold Accountable Countries of Particular Concern.”

The hearing is in reference to the effectiveness of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom's designation of nations as countries of particular concern for those countries tolerance or perpetration of “particularly severe violations of religious freedom.” USCIRF has designated China as a country of particular concern since it was founded in 1999.

Below is the full text video of the testimony submitted to Congress by Fu, complete with suggestions for holding these nations accountable.


Congressional Testimony


Hearing of Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations on "Protecting Religious Freedom: U.S. Efforts to Hold Accountable Countries of Particular Concern."


The Chinese Communist Regime Launches Comprehensive Suppression of Christianity and Other Faiths, Religious Freedom Rapidly Deteriorates


Dear Honorable Chairman, members of Congress, and distinguished guests,

Since the beginning of this year, the Chinese Communist government has intensified its suppression and persecution of house churches in China. Even officially registered “Three-Self” churches have been subjected to severe suppression and comprehensive restrictions. Since April this year, the Chinese Communist Committee [of] Zhejiang Province has arranged for and carried out harsh suppressive measures against “Three-Self” churches and house churches, forcibly demolishing so-called “illegally constructed church buildings” and the crosses on the roofs of churches throughout the province and forcing house churches to stop the so-called “illegal gatherings,” arousing the concern and anger of Christians across China and overseas. The harsh suppression of Christian churches by the Communist government of Zhejiang Province is spreading to other provinces. Based on China Aid’s tally, comprehensive suppressive measures against house churches have already been carried out in Beijing, [the provinces of ] Guangdong, Guizhou, Henan, Shandong, Jiangsu, Anhui, Shaanxi, Shanxi, and Sichuan and the autonomous regions of Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Tibet, and Guangxi. Local public security departments, religious affairs management agencies and local administrative organs outlawed house church meeting sites, confiscated Bibles, religious books, and church properties, and even imposed penalties such as administrative detention on pastors and evangelists. The Chinese Communist government also turned some conflicts between churches and local governments into criminal matters, detaining and sentencing church members on criminal charges. Religious persecution is even worse in Tibet and Xinjiang. The suppression and compulsory conversion of Falun Gong practitioners have never stopped. Since Xi Jinping took the office, particularly in the past six months, China’s policy on religious freedom has significantly deteriorated. The rapid decline of religious freedom in China urgently demands the attention of the United States and other Western countries. Strong and effective methods are needed to convey the serious concerns and worries of the international community to the Chinese Communist leaders, urging the Chinese government to take practical measures in fulfilling international laws and covenants on religious freedom, to immediately stop the persecution of various religious groups, and to safeguard the Chinese people’s right of religious freedom as prescribed by law. 

I. The Chinese Communist government has imposed comprehensive restrictions on Christian faith this year and intensified its grip on and its efforts to wipe out house churches. 

1. The Chinese Communist government intensified its comprehensive suppression of urban and rural house churches

Beijing Shouwang Church continues its fight in desperate circumstances. May 4, 2014 marked the fourth year of Shouwang Church’s outdoor worship service, and it was the 16th Sunday of this year. On that day, 30 brothers and sisters were taken and briefly detained by Public Security agents for attending outdoor worship service, among whom, Chen Youwei (male), Lan Xiaofang (male) and Dai Liying (female) were administratively detained for five days by the Public Security Bureau of Haidian District in Beijing. Pastor Jin Tianming and several elders of the church are still under house arrest. Through sustained suppression, the Chinese Communist authorities are attempting to break this church, one of the most influential China, as an example for the suppression of house churches by local governments across China and to deter other house churches. Therefore, the Beijing authorities have used every means at their disposal to prevent Shaowang Church from having a place to meet, be it through renting, purchasing or building a church. The meetings of another influential house church, Beijing Zion Church, have been disrupted by police in various ways since the beginning of this year. Pastor Jin Mingri has been “invited” to “drink tea“ with public security and religious affairs departments; this kind of “tea drinking“ is actually a warning and a form of intimidation. Plainclothes public security officers even mingled with ordinary church members to scare them away from “attending illegal church gatherings.” 

In fact, because the government used various means to oust house churches from their meeting sites or limit their use, it was not a rare occurrence in places like Guangzhou and [the provinces of] Shanxi, Henan and Zhejiang that Christians had to resort to outdoor worship services. Guangfu House Church in Guangzhou is still banned by the police from meeting together, charged with holding “illegal meetings.” In more than 20 provinces and cities, the government has banned more than a hundred house churches and confiscated their property; these cities and provinces include Jinan, Dongying, Zibo, Linmu, and Jiaozhou in Shandong Province, Langzhong in Sichuan Province, Urumqi in the region of Xinjiang, Qiqihar in Heilongjiang Province, and Shaanxi province’s Xi’an and Yulin. Since 2013, nearly 20 house church members in Shaya and a few other counties in Xinjiang haven been subjected to administrative detention and fines. On April 9 this year, in Batang county in the Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan Province, house church believer Zhang Feng, his wife of Tibetan ethnicity, and a church evangelist named Wang Yue were administratively detained. On Feb. 23, Wuyi House Church in Baoding, Hebei Province, was shut down and church property was forcibly confiscated. On Feb. 18, Chen Jie, the director of a Christian kindergarten (a subsidiary of Liangren House Church in Guangzhou) in Liuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, and her coworker Mo Xiliu were criminally detained and arrested soon after simply because they used character-building teaching materials with Christian content.

In January 2014, Taiqing Town House Church in the Xilin District of Yichun in Heilongjiang Province lost its meeting site when the local government forcibly appropriated the church property. Police in Urumqi in Xinjiang broke up a New Year Thanksgiving Service held by the house church of a cement factory and detained nine believers, including a female evangelist surnamed Guo, who was suspected to have been inhumanely treated while in detention, causing a relapse of her pulmonary emphysema and resulting in her death on Jan. 3. The other detainees were fined by the police. On Jan. 21, 2014, Li Mingzhong, staff of Langzhong House Church in Sichuan, was administratively detained by police for 15 days because he had organized Christians to hold Christmas services. Since March 2014, multiple locations of the house church charity organization Shenzhen Christian Care Center have been forcibly shut down and expelled by the government. Since the second half of 2013, the properties of multiple “Three-Self” churches in Kaifeng, Zhengzhou and Anyang in Henan Province have forcibly seized by the government, triggering protests from tens of thousands of Christians. 

2. Frequent religious cases of severe persecution of Christians and house churches have taken place from the second half of last year to the present. 

The Chinese Communist government not only has stepped up its implementation of comprehensive measures to suppress house churches, but also has used legal means, such as administrative detention, fines, confiscation of properties and criminal trial, to persecute Christians, leading to the frequent occurrence of [criminal] religious cases. 

The Enyu Bookstore Religious Case in Shanxi Province
On June 17, 2013, the court of first instance ruled on the Enyu Bookstore case in Taiyuan, Shanxi Province, sentencing brother Lacheng Ren to five years in prison and a fine of 15,000 yuan, and brother Wenxi Li to two years in prison and a fine of 6,000 yuan for “illegal business operations.” On the surface, this case is about Enyu Bookstore’s “illegal business operations” of [selling] hymnals and Christian books. (Shanxi News and Press Bureau identified the confiscated 4,557 copies of “Worship Songs” and 4,308 copies of the “Hope” DVD as illegal publications) But this was actually an act on the part of Shanxi authorities to deliberately persecute and blatantly discriminate against Christianity as a way of punishing brother Ren Lacheng for evangelizing college students and brother Li Wenxi for running a Christian bookstore to spread Christian culture. 

The Pingdingshan Religious Case in Henan Province
On September 27, 2013, a court of the second instance tried the cult case of “The Shouters” in Ye county, Pingdingshan in Henan Province. The case started on April 14, 2012, when Ye county, on the pretext of “the cult of the Shouters,” mobilized more than 100 police officers who surrounded the Daying Village, Ren Township Christian Meeting Place (also called the “Local Church” or the “Little Flock”) and seized 52 believers. After that, the Ye county procuratorate approved the arrest of seven of them and at the trial of the first instance, the Ye county court decided to sentence the seven believers, including Han Hai, to prison terms ranging from three years to seven years and six months on the charge of “using a cult to undermine law enforcement.” Teams of more than 20 Christian rights defense lawyers including Li Baiguang and Zhang Kai defended the accused believers at the first and second trials.

The Nanle Religious Case in Henan Province
In the morning of Nov. 16, 2013, as a result of disputes over church property and his pursuit of social justice, Pastor Zhang Shaojie, president of Nanle County’s Christian Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee, was taken into police custody along with more than 20 believers from his church. Zhang’s office and home were searched. Following this incident, Pastor Zhang’s lawyer Xia Jun and other Christian lawyers formed a “team of concerned lawyers” and went to Nanle, but they were beaten up, surrounded and subjected to unreasonable obstruction by the local government agencies and were not able to meet with their clients. The local procuratorate refused to handle complaints about the brutal acts of trampling the law perpetrated by the public security department. The local government also hired many male and female thugs to violently surround, beat up and block journalists attempting to interview people concerned about the case, “Three-Self” church pastors attempting to attend religious activities, believers from other places, and rights defense lawyers. Cao Nan, an evangelist from Shenzhen, was beaten up and administratively detained by the police. The local court tried Pastor Zhang Shaojie on the unsubstantiated charges of “fraud” and “assembling a crowd to disturb public order.” The court’s ruling has not yet been announced. Meanwhile, six other core church staff members are in police custody awaiting trial. Li Cairen, a key witness in this case, was illegally abducted by police and thrown into a “black jail.” To date, her whereabouts remain unknown.

The Zizhou Religious Case in Shaanxi Province
On Dec. 9, 2013, Feng Tiandong, Jiang He and Zhang Baolin, leaders of a house church in Zizhou county, Shaanxi Province, were arrested by the local police along with two believers from their church. It all started two years ago when the police forcibly banned their church and stole all the church property as well as all of Feng Tiandong’s personal property. Feng Tiandong went to the local police station with more than a dozen Christians to demand the return of the properties, only to be arrested by the police on the charge of “assembling a crowd to assault state organs.” The case will soon be tried by a court.

The Tongzhou Religious Case in BeijingOn Jan. 24, 2014, fifteen believers from a Beijing house church, “Sheng’ai Fellowship,” were seized by the police from Beijing’s Tongzhou district and taken to Liyuan Police Station in Tongzhou because they went as a group to visit a sick brother, Zhang Wenhe. On Jan. 25 and 26, except for two believers from Tianjin who were sent back to Tianjin, the remaining 13 believers, i.e. Xu Caihong, Yu Yanhua, Yang Qiuyu, Yang Min, Ju Xiaoling, Lu Dongli, Wang Su’e, Wang Chunyan, Kang Suping, Zhang Haiyan, Zhang Wenhe, Yang Jing and Xu Yonghai, were criminally detained by Beijing police on the charge of “unlawful assembly.” Although they were released after more than 30 days of detention, , the incident showcases how “arbitrary detention” is abused by the police.

The Hohhot Religious Case in Inner Mongolia
On July 25, 2013, simply because they are followers of a controversial Christian sect called “The Shouters,” were in possession of publications by “The Shouters,” and distributed several hundred gospel tracts, brother Hu Gong, brother Wen Weihong and sister Liu Aiying of Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 8 to 9 years by the court of Yuquan district in Hohhot on the charge of “organizing and using a cult to undermine the state’s law enforcement” (Article 300 of China’s Criminal Code).

II. Beginning with Zhejiang Province, the Chinese Communist government has started a nationwide crackdown on Christian groups.
Throughout the day of April 28, 2014, the Chinese government mobilized a large number of paramilitary police officers to forcibly demolish the big and imposing Sanjiang Church in Yongjia county in the city of Wenzhou. To protect the church from demolition, Christians in Wenzhou staged a peaceful protest lasting nearly a month. Sanjiang Church was built over a span of 12 years and cost 30 million yuan, funds that were donated by believers. The demolition of this church marked the onset of the Chinese government’s comprehensive suppression and containment of Christianity. In less than a month, on the pretext of “demolishing illegal structures,” governments of all levels in Zhejiang Province tore down house church buildings and demolished the crosses on the roofs of church buildings across the province, as well as investigating and banning house churches. This demolition campaign of crosses and churches actually started at the beginning of the year. On Feb. 27, the cross above the gate of Huanghu Christian Church in Huanghu county, Yuhang district in the city of Hangzhou, was demolished by people with a professional crane who were sent in by the local government. On the same day, Baiquan Christian Church in Baiquan town, Dinghai district in Zhoushan received an urgent notice from the local government telling the church to remove its cross between Feb. 28 and March 1 or they would be held responsible for the consequences. At the same time, Zhejiang authorities asked churches throughout the province to move their crosses from the roof to inside their church buildings and hang them on the walls. The crosses had to be taken down and made smaller in size, and could not be fixed atop church buildings.

Because of the protests of Christians worldwide, Zhejiang authorities put a halt to the demolition of crosses. But since April, the campaign of demolishing crosses and churches throughout Zhejiang Province has resumed with a vengeance. Churches in Hangzhou, Zhoushan, Taizhou, Fenghua, Xiaoshan, Ningbo, Lishui, Haining and other places were all required to demolish their crosses and church buildings. According to incomplete statistics, since January this year, in addition to Sanjiang Church in Yongjia, Wenzhou, the following Christian churches in Zhejiang Province have been notified to “demolish cross and church: Qiaosi Church, Gulou Church, Sandun Church and Huanghu Church in the Hangzhou area, Baiquan Town Church in Zhoushan, Zhangjiaqiao Church in Yueqing, Hushangao Church, Qianpan Church in Baixiang, Lushan Church and Wu’ai Church in Lingxi town, Cangnan Meeting Place and Guangming Church in Shahe, Rui’an, Xinduqiao Church in Xianjiang town, etc. The cross of Jian’ao Church in Pingyang county, Wenzhou, and the cross of Shuiyang Church in Linhai, Taizhou, have been demolished. On April 24, the cross of Baiquan Church in Zhoushan was demolished. On April 25, the cross of De’en Church in Jiaojiang, Taizhou, was demolished. According to incomplete statistics, by May 18, sixty-four churches in several areas in Zhejiang have been forcibly demolished and their crosses removed or relocated by force or as a result of [government] threats. Details are in the statistical tally attached.

Pastors and coworkers of some churches were detained:
Elder Guo Yunhua and some coworkers of Sanjiang Church in Wenzhou were taken into police custody. Evangelist Rong Hua was criminally detained. Many believers from Sanjiang Church were taken into police custody.

More than 10 believers in Wenzhou were administratively detained for posting photos and defending their rights at the scene of incident.

Brother Zhao and brother Shang from Yueqing, Wenzhou were detained for rights defense.

On April 23, Fu Gangqiao was summoned by police multiple times. Evangelist Wu Jiaole was also summoned and his cellphone confiscated by the police.

Zhao Qianjun, the son of the leader of Baixiang Church in Yueqing, was taken and detained for 10 days by the government.

Zhao Rendi, director of Oubei Parish in Yongjia, and Yan Xiaojie, an evangelist of Rui’an Church, were summoned by police.


The forced demolition of Sanjiang Church in Wenzhou is not an accidental, isolated, local incident. There is every indication that the persecution of churches in Wenzhou, known as “China’s Jerusalem,” through the forced demolition of crosses and churches, is taking place throughout Zhejiang Province. There is even more evidence indicating that the decision behind this religious persecution was not limited to Zhejiang Province but rather is an indication that the Chinese Communist regime intends to start a new round of nationwide persecution. As a matter of fact, it is reported that in addition to the many churches in Zhejiang Province [that have been targeted], churches in China’s northeastern provinces and in the provinces of Anhui, Henan, and Sichuan have also received notices demanding the demolition of crosses and churches. The situation nationwide and the persecution that has occurred in Wenzhou, a city that symbolizes Christianity in China, indicate that this round of persecution and suppression of Christianity and believers across China, taking the form of demolishing crosses and churches as well as infringing upon churches’ property rights, started at the beginning of 2014.

On the morning of March 28, 2014, the government of Zhejiang Province held a teleconference to push forward the “three rectifications and one demolition” campaign regarding “illegal religious structures.” According to a conference memo that was leaked, [attendees were told] to “redress the problem of religion growing too fast, religious venues being too many, and religious activities being too popular,” “identify the political issues behind cross and resist ideological infiltration,” “maintain ideological dominance,” and “foster lion-like leaders.” In this context, we have good reason to believe that the central government, the government of Zhejiang Province and the authorities of Wenzhou have reached a consensus: by using the “three rectifications and one demolition” campaign targeting so-called illegal structures, through destroying the physical space of religious faith and undermining churches’ property rights, they achieve the goal of controlling, suppressing and disciplining the flourishing Christian churches in Zhejiang and the entire country, and thereby thwart the growth of Christianity and cause churches to stay “illegal, in hiding, underground, scattered, and controlled.”

It is well-known that in recent years, the most severe persecution against Christian churches, whether house churches or grassroots “Three-Self” churches, has been to target church property. In both the case of Beijing Shouwang Church and of Wenzhou Sanjiang Church, trampling the churches’ property rights has become the main form of violating religious freedom, including forced relocation, barring churches from buying property, suspending lease agreements, or refusing to return church property. Violating church property rights has become the main way authorities begin to trample on religious freedom. Since they cannot lock up people’s souls, they turn to putting restrictions on the physical aspect of religious activities, thinking that controlling physical space will lead to the demise of religion and that stripping churches’ of their property will cause religion to disappear. Therefore, the current consensus on religious freedom must emphasize that the venues for religious activities and other physical elements are intrinsic, essential factors in the growth of religion, and religious property rights are an essential to freedom of religion. The property rights of religious groups should be protected by the nation’s laws, no different from the property rights of citizens and legal persons, and shall not be subject to violation by the state and other organizations.

It is worth noting that in the past two years, the Chinese Communist regime has often used criminal charges rather than religious reasons to persecute churches and believers. And, like the conviction of Falun Gong practitioners, the government used Article 300 of China’s Criminal Law, i.e. “using a cult to undermine law enforcement,” to convict many non-mainstream Christian denominations such as “The Shouters,” the “Local Church,” and charismatic Christians, etc. We know that government does not have the right to decide between “orthodox faith” and “cult” and to punish accordingly. That authority does not lie with any secular power on this earth.

III. The U.S. government and international community ought to take action right away to stop the Chinese Communist government’s massive religious persecution.
The religious freedom and rights prescribed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights are basic rights of all mankind and universal values recognized by the world. But the Chinese Communist government has persisted in committing massive violations of basic human rights and universal values.
According to the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA) passed by the United States in 1998, severe religious persecution exists in China, and it is a “country of particular concern.” However, the United States’ China policy and the current administration’s [response] to the basic facts [of this religious persecution] have always been weak policies of appeasement on human rights. The United States granted China “most-favored nation” trade status despite China’s human rights record. The U.S. administration, including the President, Secretary of State and other high-ranking officials, does not publicly protest China’s long-term and escalating religious persecution, but rather keeps quiet or turns a blind eye. The Founding Fathers of our nation came to the New World to protest religious persecution and pursue religious freedom. Protection of freedom of religion and other God-endowed human rights is the foundation of our nation and once was a sacred principle adhered to by the U.S. government in diplomacy. Today, however, the U.S. government has abandoned this principle and abandoned holding fast to holy faith

As the head of an organization that monitors religious freedom, human rights and rule of law in China, I make the following appeals:

1. The U.S. Congress and administration should take immediate action to send a strong clear message to the Chinese government that it must immediately stop all forms of religious persecution, truly implement its constitutional pledge that citizens have religious freedom and other basic rights, and truly govern China according to the law; that there will be consequences if the Chinese government refuses to drop its wrong-headed policies; that the United States will not continue to fail to speak out against a Taliban-like dictatorial regime that is uncivilized and anti- human rights; the future of economic, cultural and military cooperation between China and the United States must be linked to improvements in China’s human rights record.

2. I suggest that the U.S. Congress and administration jointly form an observatory group to monitor China’s religious freedom and human rights record. This group should visit China each year to conduct field work so as to gain a comprehensive and authentic understanding of the actual human rights and religious freedom situation in China. In addition to visiting government-sanctioned churches, this groups needs to have extensive contacts with house churches and religious groups in Tibet and Xinjiang. The Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom should be appointed immediately so that he or she can start to really perform the duties of the office right away.
3. The most urgent need right now is for the U.S. government to make a public statement, calling on the Chinese government to return the property that has been confiscated from numerous house churches, including Shouwang Church, and to restore the freedom of church leaders and believers who have been placed under house arrest, have been arrested, or are serving prison time. The pastors and believers detained and awaiting trial in numerous religious cases must be released immediately. The Chinese government should called on to immediately end its forced demolition of churches and crosses, and truly stop its massive persecution of house churches.

4. I suggest that the U.S. government establish a database of “Chinese Communist officials who violate religious freedom and engage in religious persecution,” and strictly bar them from visiting the United States, and strengthen cooperation with other nations and the United Nations in establishing an international coalition to contain and sanction the Chinese Communist government’s violations of religious freedom.

Attachments:
The list of demolished churches and crosses in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province (http://www.chinaaid.org/2014/05/china-aid-receives-compilation-of-64.html)

China Aid Association’s 2013 Annual Report on Chinese Government Persecution of Christians & Churches in Mainland China (http://www.chinaaid.org/2014/02/china-aid-association-2013-persecution.html)


China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
Website: www.chinaaid.org


"Bob Fu has dedicated his life to bringing freedom of religion to the Chinese people. His story is a testimony to the power of faith and an inspiration to people struggling to break free from oppression."
—Mrs. Laura Bush

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