Wenzhou Christians detained, others protest to central government

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

China Aid Association

(Wenzhou, Zhejiang—Aug. 13, 2014) Authorities in the coastal Chinese province of Zhejiang continued to take believers into custody last week; meanwhile, Christians both in Wenzhou and in other parts of China have taken actions to express their discontent with the demolition campaign to both the government and the public.

Following the July 21 altercation between members of the Pingyang County, Wenzhou-based Salvation Church and local government officials that occurred when latter attempted to demolish the cross on the church building, Pingyang County police have persistently summoned and detained believers.

Salvation Church staff member Wang Bo was detained by police on Aug. 1. “He was taken away by police,” a family member said. “Now it is already more than 25 hours since he was taken away.

Wang’s family member also told China Aid that one of the Church’s pastors was taken into police custody on Aug. 2. “Pastor Huang Yizi, a pastor who is highly respected and who protected the cross in Pingyang, was taken into a vehicle by five or six plainclothes agents at his home. He was kidnapped…”

A member of the Church’s staff said that police took Huang into custody without showing any evidence against him or giving any reasons for his detention. The next day, police officially placed Huang under criminal detention, along with several other area Christians, for “gathering a crowd to assault a state agency.”

Believers said that police had summoned Huang to the station several times before coming to detain him. They also told China Aid that during previous interrogations, authorities accused Huang of contacting foreign reporters and asked him how he established those contacts and what information he disclosed to the reporters.

As China Aid’s Hong Kong-based reporter investigated the story, many believers refused to answer any questions, saying that the timing was “inconvenient,” which hints that authorities are monitoring the Christians’ telephone conversations.

Christians protesting
In protest of the demolitions and detentions, Christians throughout China have taken action by writing letters or staging demonstrations.

“More than a hundred churches here in Lucheng [District, Wenzhou], have written a joint letter to the central government,” another Salvation Church staff member said. “Now, the central government has sent people down here to conduct investigations on the demolition of churches and crosses. Also, a touring group of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CPC (Communist Party of China) is in Hangzhou, [Zhejiang’s provincial capital], right now, and they will take a tour of Zhejiang in the next two months.”

Additionally, the bishop from a Wenzhou-based Catholic church, which have also been affected by Zhejiang’s “Three Rectifications and One Demolition campaign, felt the need to write a letter, to his congregants, in this case, about the events.

In the letter, distributed on July 30, Bishop Zhu Weifang expressed his belief that he had failed to lead the Church in a way befitting his responsibilities. “As the bishop of a parish facing waves upon waves of demolitions of churches’ crosses, the pains of many priests and fellow Christians, the blows and harms [that] believers have suffered in their hearts and religious feelings—especially the confusion and hesitation some fellow Christians have met in their faith—I failed to encourage you, comfort you, and make you stand firm in your faith. I feel deeply guilty and ask for your forgiveness for this old and inept bishop.”

Zhu also wrote in the letter that the Church thought that “such a Cultural Revolution-style campaign” against churches was impossible since China implemented reform 30 years ago.

“However, such a campaign that greatly hurts the religious feelings of us Christians does happen, and it is still gaining momentum!” Zhu wrote. “I, the bishop, have been silent and have been enduring [the campaign] because, just as some people have pointed out, such a campaign could quickly run out of steam. I also firmly believe that this exclusive campaign, ‘Three Rectifications and One Demolition’ is a wrong and unjust campaign.”

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, approximately 10 members of the “Guarding Wenzhou Churches” prayer group staged a demonstration on Aug. 2 in front of the office of the Hong Kong Liaison to the Central People’s Government to protest the demolitions.

Liu Zhixiong, the group’s organizer, said that the reason the group was protesting was let the central government know that Hong Kong Christians are concerned about the well-being of Christians in mainland China and that they believe people everywhere should have religious freedom.

During the demonstration, the group held crosses, sang hymns and prayed in from of the building’s gate.

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