Religious persecution and issues – Bimonthly digest Feb 16-28




27.02.2023 – “The most important feature of Chinese Communism is atheism”

If you live in China, chances are you have seen at least some episodes of the TV series “The Knockout,” whose last installment was aired on February 1. It was well done, and immensely popular. It was also very political. Those who care to look at the titles noticed that the series was officially produced “under the guidance of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission of the Chinese Communist Party,” the all-powerful overseer of all police, security and courts of law in China.

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Church of Almighty God

16.02.2023 – More than 10,000 Church of Almighty God members were arrested in 2022

More than 3,000 were tortured and at least 14 were killed. These are the shocking figures of the church’s own yearly report on persecution. And they are believable.

“The most persecuted religious movement in China.” This was, in 2020, the subtitle of my book “Inside The Church of Almighty God” (CAG), published by Oxford University Press. It received positive reviews by specialized scholars (included by a leading Sinologist, David Ownby, in the authoritative “Journal of the American Academy of Religion”) and enjoyed better-than-usual sales for an academic book.

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28.02.2023 – Geshe Phende Gyaltsen: The Mysterious death of a Tibetan Tantric scholar

We all know that jails where Tibetans are kept by the Chinese authorities are insalubrious, but now it seems that a few months there can kill even a healthy man. That is, if you believe the CCP.

One month has passed from the death of the celebrated Tantric scholar Geshe Phende Gyaltsen and rumors continue to circulate in both Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan province, which is part of historical Tibet and where he lived, and in the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region—although the authorities have warned that discussing the circumstances of his demise in any way or forum is prohibited.

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22.02.2023 – Recognition of new Dalai Lama must be conducted in China

The just finished TV series Tashilhunpo on China Central Television gave a detailed account of the search for the reincarnations of the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama, who hold equal positions in Tibetan Buddhism. It emphasized that this religious ritual has been supervised by the Chinese central government and conducted within Chinese territory since the late 13th century.

However, a few days ago, an organization in Japan “warned China not to interfere in Tibetan religious matters, including the selection of high Tibetan lamas.” This totally exposes its ignorance of history and China’s religious policy.

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28.02.2023 – House church pastors describe torture in secret detention

Xi’an Church of Abundance (‘Fengsheng’) released a statement on 22 February with details of the torture and mistreatment that three detained leaders of the church were subjected to in custody.

Senior Pastor Lian Changnian, 69, his son, Pastor Lian Xuliang, 41, and preacher Fu Juan, 38, had been held under ‘Residential Surveillance in a Designated Location’ (RSDL, a type of incommunicado detention that has been recognised by the UN as a form of forced disappearance) by Xi’an police since August 2022. On 15 February 2023 they were transferred to a detention centre where they were allowed to meet with their respective lawyers for the first time on 22 February.

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28.02.2023 – Wang Zang and his wife reunited for the first time in three years

Pioneering Chinese poet Wang Zang has been imprisoned for nearly a thousand days. His wife, Wang Liqin, escaped from surveillance personnel stationed on the ground floor of her home. She went to Yunnan No. 2 Prison by car and reunited with her imprisoned husband. The couple has been separated for more than three years.

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24.02.2023 – Bishop Augustine Cui Tai forcibly disappeared since 2021

Bishop Augustine Cui Tai has been illegally detained, without any legal procedure, by the authorities for nearly 16 years. Since the Spring of 2021, the bishop has not returned home nor appeared in public.


Since 2007, Bishop Augustine Cui Tai has been regularly detained by the authorities on several occasions. He was often placed under isolation in secret detention centers or hotels. Government officials took him on “trips,” a form of kidnapping.

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24.02.2023 – China ramping up persecution of Christians as it demands ‘worship and allegiance’ of Xi Jinping: watchdog

The Chinese Communist Party escalated its persecution of Christians throughout 2022 as the country clamped down on churches and online religious content while demanding allegiance to Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to a watchdog group.

A report released last week by the U.S.-based non-governmental organization ChinaAid warned that the Chinese government is using charges of “fraud” to financially suffocate the house church movement, which consists of Christian congregations that have not registered with China’s official Protestant church.

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22.02.2023 – Police place early rain leader Dai Zhichao under home confinement again.

Since Sunday service on February 12, seven to eight community workers gathered at preacher Dai Zhichao’s apartment. They guarded the entrance to his building, stopping him from attending Early Rain’s Sunday service. Dai decided to worship online.


At around 10 am on February 12, as Dai watched his church share Holy Communion, two police officers suddenly pounded on his door. They said they wanted to speak with him. He opened the door and invited them to watch with him.

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17.02.2023 – Yuhan Church raided during Sunday service – three leaders arrested

So-called street and community workers disturbed Yuhuan Church’s Chengguang Branch during Sunday worship. Three church leaders were arrested and taken away for questioning; however, authorities released them later that afternoon. Community workers also took all the church’s Bibles and hymn books and sealed off the meeting space.


Yuhuan Church’s Chengguang Branch was established in 1990. They built four separate four-story houses in 1997 to host church functions. Since the pandemic in 2020, the location has been banned. However, many still maintain small-scale gatherings.

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16.02.2023 – Report documents rampant Christian persecution in China

Christians in China have continued to face various forms of persecution including sinicization, educational reforms, and widespread rights abuses coupled with stringent laws under the repressive regime of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), says a Christian rights watchdog.

The persecution of Christians in China was highlighted in the 63-page Annual Persecution Report 2022 by US-based China Aid released on Feb. 14.

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Falun Gong

24.02.2023 – 34-year-old man sentenced to eight years for practicing Falun Gong

A 34-year-old Chengdu City, Sichuan Province resident was sentenced to eight years on February 15, 2023 for practicing Falun Gong.

Mr. Qu Xing was arrested outside of his rental apartment on June 8, 2021. His mother, Ms. Xu Yanping, who also practices Falun Gong, was arrested on the same day.

Mr. Qu had his arrest approved and remains in custody. Ms. Xu was later released and placed on house arrest. The police fined her 900 yuan on February 13, 2022.

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19.02.2023 – Harbin woman dies 11 months after serving 5 years in prison for her faith

A Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province resident was sentenced to five years for practicing Falun Gong, a mind-body practice that has been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party since July 1999. By the time Ms. Zhang Chunyu was released from Heilongjiang Province Women’s Prison on February 24, 2022, she had been reduced to just skin and bones, and almost all her teeth had fallen out.

Several months later, however, the local police and community administration kept harassing her, forcing her to live away from home to avoid further persecution.

Ms. Zhang died on January 31, 2023, at age 69. She was predeceased by her husband and their son, who both developed heart diseases after being traumatized by her repeated harassment, arrest, and detention. Her son died on September 24, 2014, and her husband passed away on February 16, 2017.

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16.02.2023 – The Hongshan District brainwashing center in Wuhan City, Hubei Province

Almost every district in Wuhan City, Hubei Province has a brainwashing center specifically set up to persecute Falun Gong practitioners. The brainwashing center in Hongshan District is located in the former building of the Shiju Middle School and its operation depends on funding from the city government and the Political and Legal Affairs Committee, an extra-judiciary agency tasked with persecuting Falun Gong.

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16.02.2023 – A Heilongjiang Woman’s uphill battle in getting her suspended pension reinstated

Many Falun Gong practitioners who were sentenced to prison for upholding their faith in recent years also had their pensions suspended by their local social security bureau.

Most of the social security bureaus cited a letter issued by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security in 2001, titled “Reply Letter from the General Office of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security on Issues Relating to Pension Insurance Benefits for Retirees After They Are Sentenced.” They argued that according to the letter, any retirees sentenced to prison aren’t entitled to any retirement benefits while serving time.

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