As communist authorities in China
continue to crackdown on churches in the southeastern Zhejiang Province,
considered the heartland of Chinese Christianity, a court sentenced a
Protestant pastor to 14 years in prison and his wife to 12 years,
according to Chinese media.
Bao Guohua, a government-approved
pastor, and his wife, Xing Wenxiang, were targeted for their efforts to
defend their church against an order to remove its cross, just as
authorities have taken down over 1,200 crosses from churches and other
buildings for violating “planing” rules over the past two years.
arrested last August, were convicted of corruption, financial crimes and
gathering people to disturb social order, the Zhejiang Daily newspaper
reported Friday, according to The New York Times.
The court has also fined Bao more than $15,000, and has ordered confiscation of another $92,000, the newspaper said.
court has additionally handed suspended jail sentences to 10 members of
Pastor Bao’s Holy Love Christian church, who were allowed to walk free
after the sentencing, according to Radio Free Asia.
Jan. 28, authorities arrested and placed under “residential
surveillance at a designated location” another pastor in the same
province, Gu Yuese, of Chongyi Church, the largest government sanctioned
church in China. He was formally charged on Feb. 6 for embezzling
“I think the likely scenario to happen is that he will be
indicted, and depending on his confession, and how cooperative he is,
the length of sentence can be negotiated,” Bob Fu, founder and president
of the U.S.-based China Aid, told The Christian Post in an interview
earlier this month. “All factors combined, I do not see any way that the
Communist Party will let Pator Gu leave the prison without a criminal
sentence,” he added.
While Chinese authorities, led by the
Communist Party, have claimed that Gu is being investigated for
corruption, China Aid and other persecution watchdog groups have pointed
out that Gu is being punished more so because of his opposition to the
crackdown on churches in China, which includes the forced cross removal
from hundreds of churches in several provinces.
In its recently
released 2016 report, Human Rights Watch notes that China is facing
several problems, documenting the arrests of various human rights
defenders, including those who have stood up for freedom of religion.
says government authorities led a campaign in 2015 demolishing church
crosses and even entire churches. “In 2015, authorities continued their
campaign to remove crosses from churches, and in some cases demolished
entire churches in Zhejiang Province, considered the heartland of
Chinese Christianity,” the report states. “At least a hundred Christians
have reportedly been briefly detained for resisting the demolitions
since the start of the campaign in early 2014.”
China is also
planing to enforce a new policy requiring Roman Catholic officials to
carry ID cards stating their religious affiliation or risk losing the
right to preach.
UCA News, a Catholic news agency, reported that
Buddhist monks are already being required to carry such ID cards, and by
the end of the year the same will be expected of Catholic and Taoist
The U.S.-based group International Christian Concern said
it is “distressed to hear of the Nazi-like identification credentials
for Christian leaders in China. Our concern is that this new requirement
will force many churches and their leaders underground.”
China’s communists came to power in 1949, they expelled Christian
missionaries while allowing churches to function under the government’s
control. Chinese Christians faced severe persecution during the Cultural
Revolution of the 1960s and the 1970s under Mao, who saw religion as
Churches are now allowed to exist, or tolerated, but under tight control of the government.