Zhejiang authorities remove cross 5 days after issuing 30-day notice

Friday, June 6, 2014

Authorities remove Dongyang Church's
cross. (Photo: China Aid)
China Aid Association

(Wenzhou, Zhejiang—June 5, 2014) Authorities in China’s coastal Zhejiang province removed the cross from atop yet another building on May 30 despite only sending the government-sanctioned church a notice of the impending removal, with a 30-day grace period, on May 26.

The Protestant Dongyang Church in Yongjia County, Wenzhou, where the striking Sanjiang Church was forcibly demolished in late April, received a Notice of Administrative Penalty from the construction inspection unit of Yongjia County’s Residential, Urban, and Rural Planning Bureau on Monday, May 26. The notice claimed that the church illegally covered more than 27,000 square feet while, in reality, the church occupies about 4,800 square feet of land. The notice additionally gave the church 30 days from the date of issue, May 26, to remove the cross themselves.

“Jiang Zhiqiang, [the church’s leader], and Jiang Shengfu, [a church staff member], were summoned by authorities for a talk on the evening of [May] 29,” Pastor Zhang Mingxuan, president of the Chinese House Church Alliance, said. Zhang said that as of morning on May 30, the two had not been released and that at 3 a.m. on May 30, Wenzhou authorities dispatched hundreds of SWAT officers to block the intersection leading to the church.

At the scene, church members, some armed with umbrellas, stood in the rain, holding a banner that read “Do not take down our cross because the cross is our glory.” Inside the church, a number of believers estimated to be in the hundreds were praying for a chance to reason with authorities. Meanwhile, Wenzhou authorities removed the cross with a crane.

“According to state law, a finished building with a sealed roof can only be demolished after a verdict from the trial of second instance,” a frequent attendee at the church said. “Nowadays, law enforcement officers are breaking the law by abusing power to dismantle a preexisting building.”

“In Wenzhou, the situation of demolishing churches…very serious,” Pastor Huang, the leader of a nearby church, said. “They are demolishing churches everywhere. They also told our sister school to stop its operations.”

Pastor Zhang asked that the international community continue to pray for change in China, noting that the Zhejiang government is showing no cooperation with the “rule-of-law spirit to protect religious freedom.”

Church members also told China Aid that authorities unsuccessfully attempted to detain another believer, Zheng Xianghui, but he wasn’t home Thursday evening when officers visited his house.

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