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Beijing Intensifies Suppression of House Churches ahead of Olympics

Qin Yue and Li Mingcai
Sound of Hope Radio [1]
Friday, Aug 8, 2008

President of the Chinese House Church Association Zhang Mingxuan said that Beijing has intensified its suppression of house churches on the eve of the Olympics. House church gatherings have been banned in Beijing. Zhang’s church and residence have been locked up and he was not allowed to return to Beijing. Many other house churches in China have also been dissolved and Christians have been arrested and sent to labor camps.

On May 12, Beijing police raided the Shouwang Church. On May 25, Beijing police raided at least eight house church sites and arrested Gao Zhen, a Christian minister. Hua Hui, a member of the Shouwang Church, said that police forced house church members to sign a guarantee that they would not gather during the Olympic Games.

Zhang said, “Just before the Olympics, more than 10 house churches have been raided by police. They broken in during our gatherings and detained everyone. Everyone had to be registered with them. A college student was stopped by police on campus and was told that no gathering would be allowed. They threatened all house church followers, forcing them to guarantee that they would not have gatherings during the Olympics.”

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Zhang met with two U.S. legislators, Reps. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) on June 30. Before that, his church, located in Dongbaxiang, Chaoyang District, Beijing, was already banned from holding any activities. He was also forced to leave his residence at the church.

He said, “My wife and I had to stay in a hotel. Later, the hotel also tried to kick us out. On June 4, police closed our church and forbade us from gathering together. I told them that our church is well known around the world. They said since it was a house church, it had to be closed.”

Mr. and Mrs. Zhang settled in a hotel in Changning. On June 14, police from Tongzhou Police Station forced Mr. and Mrs. Zhang to leave. They threatened to cut of the hotel’s water and electricity and to arrest the owner of the hotel if the Zhangs didn’t leave. Anywhere the couple went, they were harassed by police. They are currently staying at a church in Qian’an, Hebei Province.

Zhang was questioned by police on July 31 when he was getting medicine for his wife in Beijing. He was asked to show his identification card at the train station as he arrived, just before the police threw him out of Beijing. Zhang said, “I arrived in the Shihui Train Station in Beijing at 8:15. As soon as I got off the train, police asked me to show my ID. They checked my ID against their records and said that the ID was not valid. I told them that the ID was mine and worked when I took a plane ride earlier. They took me to the Shihui Police Station.”

Zhang Mingxuan said that since March, Christians have been arrested in Inner Mongolia, Shandong, Henan, Heilongjiang, and Xinjiang provinces. Authorities accused house church members of participating in cult activities and took away their bibles. In January, more than 80 Christians were arrested in Shandong Province. Twelve people were sent to labor camps. The leader of the church, Zhang Zhongxi, was sentenced to two years in a labor camp.

In January, police arrested followers during a Christian lecture in Hami, Xinjiang Province. They also raided the followers’ homes and confiscated more than 100,000 yuan worth of property. The followers were fined 80,000 yuan by the Bureau of Religion. In Inner Mongolia, also in January, the home of a Christian man named Wang Dacai was raided and personal property worth of tens of thousands of yuan was confiscated. On July 5, four more Christians were arrested in Jilin Province. They remain under detention.