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During the last year, 233 people have been arrested in China for illegal religious activities.

 

 

 

http://www.persecution.org/humanrights/china.html

 

China--Christian Persecution in China

Asia: China

Country Report Last Updated: October 2001

Code: A-2, 3

China
(Click here for a list of ICC articles on China.)
List of Articles Last Updated:
July 10, 2001

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COUNTRY STATISTICS

Area: 9,596,960 sq km
Capital: Beijing
Main Cities: Shanghai, Tianjin, Shenyang
Population: 1,246,871,951
Population Growth: 0.77%
Birth Rate: 15.1 births/ 1000 people
Death Rate: 6.98 deaths/ 1000 people
Infant Mortality: 43.31 deaths/ 1000 live births
Life Expectancy: 69.92
Religions: Taoism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity
Languages: Mandarin, Yue (Cantonese), Wu, Minbei
Ethnic Groups: Han Chinese, Zhuang, Uygar, Hui
Currency: 1 yuan (�) = 10 jiao
Exchange Rate: 8.28 � = US$1
Total GDP: $4.42 trillion
Per Capita PPP: $3,600
Imports: $140.17 billion
Exports: $183.8 billion

(Source:CIA World Fact Book 1999)

 

Religious Atmosphere: Buddhism is the country’s dominant religion with around 100 million adherents. Islam is practiced by approximately 20 million people. The government allows for the practice of Christianity as long as it is done under the auspices of the state controlled churches. The Catholic Patriotic Association, which does not recognize the authority of the Vatican, claims some 5 million adherents while the Three-Self Patriotic Movement claims between 10-15 million Protestant worshippers. Unofficial Catholics (those who are affiliated with the Vatican) number around 10 million while Protestant house churches may have as many as 30 million members. Folk religions and Taoism are also practiced by a larger number of people. Practitioners of eastern religions usually receive less interference from the government than "foreign" religions like Christianity and Islam. Tibetan Buddhism, however, is not tolerated by the government.

 

Extremist Groups: No extremist groups have been cited for incidents of persecution in China.

 

Government:

bulletWhile the constitution states that citizens enjoy total religious freedom, the government has consistently attempted to restrict all religious practice to government-authorized religious organizations and registered places of worship.
  
bulletAll religions are required to register with government religious affairs bureaus and accept the supervision of official religious organizations. Many groups have resisted this action on the grounds of opposing state control of religion, being unwilling to limit their activities, or refusing to compromise their positions on issues which don't agree with that of the government.
  
bulletThe Communist Party officially states that party membership and religious belief are incompatible. This is a considerable concern for believers since Party membership is required for almost all high-level positions. Even so, a 1995 government survey showed that 20 percent of the Communist Party engages in some kind of religious activity.
  
bulletForeigners are not allowed to proselytize. They are allowed to preach to other foreigners, bring in religious materials for their own use, and preach to Chinese at the invitation of a registered religious organization.
   
bulletIn the province of Guangdong, local regulations have been added to the government ones. Illegal materials (any unapproved foreign religious material) cannot be sold, distributed, copied, or shipped. Chinese residents cannot accept any outside money or assistance from foreigners or foreign organizations. The existence of any unapproved religious organization or personnel is illegal. Foreigners cannot establish a religious organization, churches, appoint any pastors/leaders, distribute religious materials, train disciples, or conduct any other religious activities. Foreign organizations cannot recruit religious students from overseas to attend religious universities in China without the approval of the Chinese government. All of these crimes are punishable by fines of $2,200 to $11,000.
  
bulletThe seminaries are largely government controlled. To qualify for the clergy, one must demonstrate "political reliability" and pass an examination of their political knowledge.
   
bulletProvincial governments have taken extreme means to eradicate the underground Catholic Church in their jurisdiction. Taken from the plans in the Donglai township, the following actions were recommended: Registering and setting up a file for each religious believer, and investigating the background of out-of-town Catholics. These plans also call for disintegrating the underground religious influences by uniting the majority through education, isolating and attacking the extremists, developing overall education, organizing specialists, and using "any other conceivable means."
           
bulletThe government-run Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA) and the Three Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) are attempting to unite the 80 million members of the underground church by offering reconciliation, the promise of allowed registration for house churches, and a halt to make Chinese theology more socialist, the movement that was lead by Bishop Ding.   Many underground members are concerned the unification will restrict evangelization methods.

 

Recent Actions:

bulletJuly 26, 2001 – Police arrested 8 Christians, including Ah Kong and Pastor Li Dexian during an unregistered Christian home meeting in Guangdong Province.  The police are seeking to extract a large fine from Ah Kong as a penalty and are refusing to release him. Li was released from the Huadu Detention Centre in Guangdong after three days.
 
bulletJune 2001 – Twelve people have been sentenced to 2-3 years of "re-education through labor" in connection with the raid on the Dongsheng house church (see May 26, 2001 below).
   
bulletMay 26, 2001 – Police raided a house church in Dongsheng city, Inner Mongolia, arresting 35 people. The next day 20 people were released after paying a fine of 200 yuan ($24), but the remaining 15 people, including the church leaders, remain in custody. Wang Yuluan and Li Haihe could be sentenced to three years of re-education through labor. Wang’s husband is already serving a term in labor camp for his Christian activities.
    
bulletMay 22, 2001 – A confidential report received by ICC indicated that 20 Christians had been arrested in a particular area of China. All but eight were later released. However, the eight in custody were sentenced to remain in chains for 7 to 15 days. In a separate case, a 70-year-old preacher is being held for not having an official preaching permit.
   
bulletApril 22, 2001 – Father Lu Genjun has been sentenced to three years of labor camp.   His crime as stated officially: (1) receiving theological training, (2) being ordained a Roman Catholic priest not recognized by the Hebei Patriotic Association Catholic Administration committee, (3) refusing the recognize the Patriotic Association, and (4) conducting evangelization activities (including Holy Mass and preaching the Gospel).  The Patriotic Association is the body created by the Communist regime in 1957 in an attempt to replace to Roman Catholic Church.
bulletApril 13, 2001 – Bishop Shi Enxiang, a leader in China’s unofficial Roman Catholic Church in Hebei province, was arrested in Beijing. He has already served almost 30 years in prison, most recently from 1990-1993.
   
bulletDecember 7, 2000 – A house church leader was arrested in Wenzhou for being the leader of an "evil cult." His home was also ransacked by authorities. He has been released on $30,000 RMB ($3600) bail. He was told the money could be returned to him in 6 months if he ceases all religious activities.
    
bulletDecember 7, 2000 – Christian Solidarity Worldwide reported that underground Protestant Christians continue to endure torture during imprisonment. Several people testified of being tied to a cross and leaned against a wall for long periods of time. Christian leaders also face heavy fines which cause them extreme financial hardship and can make it impossible for them to continue in the ministry. Re-education by labor is another frequently imposed punishment for Christians who practice their faith outside of the official churches.
    
bulletNovember 2000 – During the most destructive crackdown on Christian churches since the Cultural Revolution, at least 787 churches were destroyed, 188 were banned, and 97 were taken for other purposes by the Chinese government. This crackdown, which occurred in Wenzhou city and three surrounding counties in Zhejiang province, may be a test case to determine the amount of international outcry such destruction would cause. Authorities in Wenzhou said their actions were warranted because the unregistered groups "hoodwinked people and interfered in normal religious activities."
    
bulletOctober 16, 2000 – A 19-year-old underground church member died in police custody. Liu Haitao was arrested during a raid on his house church on September 4, 2000 in Xiayi county, Henan province. Though he complained of being ill, authorities did not allow him medical care.
    
bulletSeptember 14, 2000 – An underground Catholic bishop was arrested in Jiangxi Province. Bishop Zeng Jingmu has continued to resist the official government-controlled Catholic Church since being ordained by the Pope in 1949. Zeng’s loyalty to Vatican has cost him over 30 years in prison.
    
bulletAugust 30, 2000 – An underground Catholic Church in Fujian province was raided by police and 24 people were taken into custody. Twenty-two people are still being detained in an undisclosed location.
     
bulletAugust 27, 2000 – Henry Chu, Sandee Lin, and Patricia Lan were deported because of their missionary activities (see below).
    
bulletAugust 25, 2000 – The three American missionaries arrested in Xihua (see below) were released after detention and interrogation. They reported being beaten and kicked by authorities. Other members of the church are still being held.
    
bulletAugust 23, 2000 – One hundred and nine members of the Fangcheng Church were arrested in Xihua county, Henan province. Among those arrested were Henry Chu, Sandee Lin, and Patricia Lan, American missionaries from California. All are being detained.
    
bulletAugust 21, 2000 – Seven members of the China Evangelistic Fellowship were arrested in Yun-cheng city, Shaanxi province.
    
bulletAugust 2, 2000 – A Bible school run by the China Evangelistic Fellowship was ransacked and 35 professors and students were taken into custody. The building was then destroyed.
    
bulletJuly 17, 2000 – Christian Xu Guoxing (also known as Philip Xu) was released from prison after serving a 3 year re-education through labor sentence. Xu had been arrested in July of 1997 for holding church meetings in his home.
    
bulletMay 31, 2000 – Jian Zheijiang, a Roman Catholic priest, was sentenced to 6 years in prison for illegally printing Bibles.
    
bulletMay 16, 2000 –Founder of China’s Born Again movement, Xu Yongze, was released from prison after serving a 3 year re-education through labor sentence. Pastor Xu was originally arrested on March 15, 1997 during a raid on house church leaders. Xu reported some harsh treatment in prison, including being slapped, and having his hands handcuffed behind his back while being pulled up in the air for beatings.
    
bulletMay 8, 2000 – An evangelist named Yiu was arrested along with his wife in Fo Gang and held for 48 hours.
      
bulletMay 2000 – At least 10 Christian leaders were arrested in Guangdong province. Christian meetings have been closed and people have been arrested in Li Xi, Tian Wei, Fo Gang, Xiang Shan, Huadu, Ping Shan and Xin Hua. The arrests and closures are linked to a campaign of intimidation against Christians. One particular target of intimidation is Pastor Li Dexian. Pastor Li has been arrested 14 times in 7 months. During one of his arrests he was warned that he would be given a 3 year labor camp sentence if he did not suspend his religious activities.
    
bulletApril 11, 2000 – In an effort to put an end to the church in Hua Du, Guangdong province, authorities arrested Pastor Li Dexian and sentenced him to 15 days in prison. Pastor Li’s legs and wrists were bound and chained to his feet, causing him severe back pain. After being held in such deplorable conditions, Pastor Li was later released.
     
bulletFebruary 10, 2000 – Authorities arrested Archbishop John Yang Shudao, a member of the underground Catholic Church in Fujian province.
     
bulletFebruary 5, 2000 – Less than a month after his arrest, Zhang Rongliang, one of China’s most well-known house church leaders, was released from prison in Henan province. Zhang has served at least 7 years in prison since the 1970s for his religious activities.
   
bulletJanuary 1, 2000 – Xu Yonghai, a Beijing doctor, was pushed to the ground by police in front of the hospital where he worked. The police were waiting for him to finish his shift because they were aware that he and other Christians planned to have a prayer meeting in Xu’s home. The other Christians were later detained. Xu’s head was split open when the police pushed him down.
    
bulletJanuary 2000 – Six underground church leaders were arrested in Henan province on the charges that they used "evil cults" to undermine the law. The leaders were given a sentence of re-education through labor at a camp in Yuyang City. Those arrested were Zhang Rongliang, Zheng Shuqian, Shen Yiping, Wang Jiasheng, Feng Jianguo and Jing Rongqi.
       
bulletNovember 23, 1999 – Pastors Wang Li Gong and Yang Jing Fu were arrested along with 19 other Christians from Inner Mongolia who were gathered together at Wang’s house in Han Ku, Tianjin. The Christians, including women, were savagely beaten. All of them were later released except for Wang and Yang who were accused of being cult leaders. Both are currently being held in labor camps in Tianjin.
   
bulletOctober 12, 1999 – A day after destroying Pastor Li Dexian’s church, Chinese authorities broke up a meeting of 200 believers and arrested Pastor Li, his wife, two church members and an Australian missionary. The Chinese men were beaten in custody.
    
bulletSeptember 25, 1999 – Fourteen members of the Church of the Disciples were detained in Gansu province on charges of disrupting social stability. The group is known for its bold opposition to the government-run Christian church.
    
bulletSeptember 1999 – A leading pastor in China’s state-controlled church openly denounced the unbiblical theology being imposed on the church by its Communist leaders.
     
bulletAugust 23, 1999 - Around 30 Protestant house church leaders were arrested at a meeting in a home near Tanghe in Henan province. They were holding a prayer seminar when security forces raided the home and took them into custody for holding an illegal religious meeting.
    
bulletAugust 18, 1999 - Chao Dexin and seven others meeting at Dexin’s home in Wu Gang city in Henan province were arrested and may have been sent to labor camps for holding an illegal religious meeting.
    
bulletAugust 1999 — The Beijing government announced that it would not allow the Pope to make a stop in Hong Kong as a part of his tour of Asia. Activists in Hong Kong see this a loud statement against the religious freedom that Catholics in Hong Kong formerly enjoyed.
      
bulletMay 13, 1999 — Yan Weiping, a 33-year-old priest for the underground Catholic Church was arrested during a raid on an illegal house Mass in Beijing. Several hours later, his dead body was found dumped in a street. According to the Kung Foundation (an American group), other priests have been tortured including Wang Qing from Hebei Province who was beaten, hung by his hands for three days, and forcibly fed a dirty liquid causing an intestinal illness.
   
bulletApril 25, 1999 — Police raided a rural church service in central Henan Province. 25 Christians were arrested. Eight days later, 15 were still in custody. All Bibles and other Christian literature were confiscated. This was said to have been the 5th raid on underground church meetings in Henan since October.
    
bulletJanuary 25, 1999 — Catholic Fathers Pei Junchao and Chen Hekun were arrested in Hebei Province for illegal religious activities.
    
bulletJanuary 20, 1999 — 46 Protestants and Catholics (including one pastor and 2 priests) were arrested in Henan province for participating in illegal worship services. Some were said to have suffered various forms of torture and abuse.
    
bulletChristmas Day, 1999 — Catholics in Nanguan Machi Village were arrested and fined the equivalent of 60-$120 for holding an illegal Christmas worship service in a vegetable shed.
   
bulletChristmas Eve, 1999 — Three Catholic leaders and a 12 year old girl were detained in Liangzhuang Village, Hebei Province, and beaten with electric batons for holding an illegal Christmas Eve service. Injuries sustained caused the need for hospitalization.
     
bulletDecember 1998 — 25 Protestant Christians in Tangle County, Henna Province were arrested for illegal religious activities.
     
bulletDecember 1, 1998 — Police in Guangzhou arrested Li Dexian, a prominent Christian leader for illegal preaching.
       
bulletNovember 22, 1998 - A petition was issued by the leaders of several Chinese House Churches that requested the following:
  • The unconditional release of prisoners who are being held in Labor Reform Camps for their religious beliefs.
         
  • A governmental acknowledgment that the majority of religious individuals are members of the underground church (approximately 10 million in the government run "Three-Self" churches and 80 million in the house church movement.)
        
  • A dialogue be started between the Chinese Communist Party and the house church leaders.
        
  • A revised official government definition of a "cult." This definition should not be based on lack of affiliation with the government run "Three-self" churches.
        
  • A cessation of attacks on Chinese house churches by legal authorities
  • A government examination of trends and changes in the religious practices of its citizens and an adjustment in the government's religious policies.
        

     

    Prisoners:

    bulletIt is estimated that there are around 200 prisoners being held for their religious beliefs. Due to the level of police action, it is difficult to keep an exact count. Please see the recent actions above for the names of some of the most recent prisoners.

     

    Suggested Actions You Might Take:

    bulletPray for the Christians of China that they may be protected from harm and that the Christian message may be heard and received by all. Pray especially for the security and well being of the underground house church leaders who are currently in prison for their faith.
         
    bulletWrite a respectful letter to one or more of the government officials listed below. Express your continuing concern for the safety and well being of the Christian community in China. Request information about what steps the government is taking to ensure their protection and freedom to practice their faith as laid out in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights documents.

     

    Suggested Actions You Might Take:

    bulletContact the elected national officials (Senators, Congressman etc.) for your area as well as the U.S. State Department and express concern for the well being of the Christians in China asking them to make an inquiry into their status.
        
    bulletPlease keep us informed of any replies or results you may receive! Contact ICC by email at icc@persecution.org.

     

    Official Contacts:

    Embassy of the Peoples Republic Of China
    2300 Connecticut Ave.
    Washington D.C., 20008
    Tel: (202) 328-2500

    Jiang Zemin Guojia Zhuxi
    President of the People's Republic of China
    Beijingshi, People`s Republic of China

    Zhu Rongji
    Premier, People's Republic of China
    Guowuyuan
    9 Xihuangchenggenbeijie
    Beijingshi 100032
    People`s Republic of China
    Fax: 86-10-6-512-5810

    Qiao Shi Weiyuanzhang
    Chairman, National People's Congress
    Quanguo renmmin Daibiao Dahui
    Great Hall of the People
    Beijingshi
    People`s Republic of China

    Governor, Hebei Provincial People's Government
    Shijiazhuangshi
    Hebei Sheng
    People`s Republic of China

    Governor, Henan Provincial People's Government
    Zhengzhoushi
    Henansheng, People`s Republic of China

     

    *We make every attempt to keep up with and reflect changes in the national government of China and the current human rights situation. We appreciate your feedback if you find any discrepancies in this information. You can contact us by e-mail at: icc@persecution.org. Thanks.

    POSTED:  October 11, 2001

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    ICC Articles on China:

    bulletJune 2000 - CONCERN - The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail Against the Chinese Church
    bulletDecember 2000 - CONCERN - China's Christians Endure Persecution, Recent Persecution Against Chinese Christians, China Aiding in Sudanese Holocaust?
    bulletOctober 2000 - CONCERN - Recent News of Persecution Around the Globe
    bulletSeptember 2000 - CONCERN - 2000 Top Ten Priority Watch List Of Countries Where Christians Are Persecuted
    bulletAugust 1999 - CONCERN - Joining Hands with the Church in China, Mission Report - Prayer Mountain, house church leaders, message to Americans, Global Persecution Update: China
     

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