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NEWS: Pastor Jailed for Protesting Cross Demolitions Released by China Ahead of Obama Meeting

The Chinese government has reportedly
released from prison the Rev. Gu Yuese, the former leader of Hangzhou’s
Chongyi Church, the largest government sanctioned church in the country,
ahead of President Xi Jinping’s scheduled meeting with President Barack
Obama.

Herald Malaysia Online reported
that Gu, who was formally arrested on embezzlement charges, was held in
detention for close to three months for speaking out against the
government’s church crosses demolition campaign, which has been going on
for almost two years now.

The megachurch leader has been placed under “residential surveillance” following his release, which persecution watchdog group International Christian Concern warned means he is not entirely safe yet.

“Praise
God Chinese Pastor Gu Yuese has been release from detention!” ICC said
in a note on Tuesday, adding that the move by the Communist Party is
“likely a precursor to the Chinese president’s visit to the United
States.”

ICC added: “Pastor Yuese is not completely out of the
woods because residential surveillance could likely be or become the
notorious black jail. If he is placed under its restrictive rules, he
will not be allowed to leave his home or speak with anyone.”


Obama and Xi are set for more high-profile meetings later in April, which will include discussions on climate change, nuclear security, world economy and other topics.

The
Chinese government has been accused by groups such as China Aid of
forcefully taking down church crosses as part of a larger campaign to
suppress the rising tide of Christianity in the world’s most populous
nation.

“The top leadership is increasingly
worried about the rapid growth of Christian faith and their public
presence, and their social influence,” Bob Fu, founder and president of
China Aid, told The Christian Post back in February.

“It
is a political fear for the Communist Party, as the number of
Christians in the country far outnumber the members of the Party,” he
added.

Fu has also suggested that the limited interaction the
pastor has had with his congregation, in the form of letters appearing
to urge support for the government, could have been forced.

A
letter sent in February to the Chongyi Church congregation allegedly
from the pastor claimed that he has accepted the investigation for his
“own benefit.”

“Please have faith in our government and judicial
department. They will do their work rigorously, abiding by the laws and
unearthing the truth with impartiality, justice, and public
transparency,” the letter read.

“They will correct any mistakes,
if any have been made, and guard against them if none were committed.
Instead of assembling and inquiring, please pray!”
Obama has been
urged to discuss China’s human rights record with Xi in meetings, with
the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China stating in a letter in
late March that the Chinese president is overseeing an “extraordinary
assault on civil society, the rule of law, and the freedoms of religion,
association, and assembly.”

“President Xi must not be permitted
to again visit Washington without any accounting for the severe erosion
of human rights and rule of law which has taken place on his watch and
with his authorization,” added the commission in its letter to Obama,
led by U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican.







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