Religious persecution and issues – Bimonthly Digest July 01-15




01.07.2023 – Religious leaders urged to enhance China’s ‘soft power’

UCA news – Religions should be guided by core socialist values and Chinese culture, said top govt official.

A state-sponsored training program for religious leaders in China has asked to strengthen religious exchanges with foreign countries and enhance understanding and friendship with people of other countries to create a “favorable external environment.”

The leaders have been urged to accelerate efforts to promote traditional Chinese culture, values, and unique spiritual identity in the international community by renewing their commitment to state policies, Xinde Weekly reported on June 27.

The training program for Christian, Buddhist, Taoist, and Muslim leaders on June 13-19 in Changsha, Hunan province was sponsored by the United Front Work Department, an influential body of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

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Hui Muslims

11.07.2023 – “Sinicization” Galore: “Arabic” features removed from mosques, hospitals, restaurants 

Bitter Winter – Informants continue to provide to “Bitter Winter” pictures of the iconoclastic fury of the Communist Party against traditional Islamic symbols and signs.

“Bitter Winter” has previously exposed the plans of the authorities in Xining, Qinghai province, to “Sinicize” nineteen local mosques, and last year reported on the “renovation project” of the Xining Dongguan mosque. Recently, Bitter Winter received a set of pictures from local Hui muslims in Xining, showing that the local mosques, which were once on the authorities’ “renovation list,” have now been “Sinicized” and are being publicly displayed as “exemplary models.”

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14.07.2023 – China blocks prominent Tibetan lama from preaching

RFA – The Chinese government has canceled a Tibetan Buddhist religious event where a prominent lama was scheduled to preach, though organizers obtained permission from authorities in advance, two Tibetans with knowledge of the situation said.

The seventh Gungthang Rinpoche Lobsang Jamyang Geleg Tenpe Khenchen was to give a Kalachakra teaching in Dzoege, Ngaba county, in the western Chinese province of Sichuan, where the he was born, the sources said.

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07.07.2023 – Bodhi Gong believers sentenced in Shandong

Bitter winter – The crackdown on the Buddhist qigong movement founded by Grandmaster JinBodhi continues.

Last month, Bitter Winter reported on the national crackdown on Bodhi Gong, called abroad “Bodhi Meditation,” and presented a short history of the successful Buddhist-qigong movement created in 1991 by Di Yuming, know to his followers as Grandmaster JinBodhi. The headquarters of the movement are now in Canada, where the founder escaped in 1999.

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06.07.2023 – Chinese Government “will continue to control reincarnation of living Buddhas”

Bitter Winter – Rumors that the atheistic CCP may end the farce of authorizing who may reincarnate and into whom were denied at a press conference in Beijing.

Readers of “Bitter Winter” know that in 2007, the State Administration of Religious Affairs institutionalized the right of the CCP to decide which Tibetan Buddhist lamas should be authorized to reincarnate, to control the process for identifying the reincarnations, and to certify what reincarnations were genuine through its infamous Order no. 5.

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10.07.2023 – Chinese evangelist refutes state propaganda

UCA news – Chen Wensheng alleged the communist regime is plotting to arrest and jail him based on false testimonies.

A popular Christian street evangelist has alleged that China’s communist regime is conspiring to arrest him again by threatening his family and followers to get false testimonies.

Chen Wensheng, a member of the Xiaoqun Church in Hunan Province also dismissed allegations that he had betrayed his community by trying to get them arrested, reported ChinaAid, a US-based Christian rights group.

Chen said his ordeal came to light after he released a statement on social media in June.

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05.07.2023 – China plans to export “Sinicized christianity” internationally

Bitter Winter – “We will change the face of world Christianity!” A conference on June 27–30 launched a new grandiose plan—and a problem for the World Council of Churches.

Pastors of the Three-Self Church have understood for several years what a “Sinicized” religion is. “Sinicization” does not mean adopting a Chinese style, language, and aesthetics (in fact, the CCP is “Sinicizing” even a quintessential Chinese religion such as Taoism). It means adopting the style, language, of ideology of the CCP. Slowly but surely Three-Self churches are being transformed into ideological indoctrination centers for Xi-Jinping-style Communism, with the tiny veneer of Christianity becoming tinier every year and every day.

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05.07.2023 – Hammer and sickle placed next to house church sign

ChinaAid – On July 3, a hammer and sickle, the emblem of the Chinese Communist Party, was placed next to Shinian Christian Church.

A pastor in Zhejiang province reported that the Taizhou Religious Affairs Bureau sent out notices to surrounding churches. They requested “all religious venues must put up large signs at their entrances that say ‘love the Chinese communist party, love the country, and love the religion’ and ‘uphold the principle of developing religions in the Chinese context.’”

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05.07.2023 – House church leaders prosecuted as criminal ‘clique’ – Three leaders of Linfen Covenant House (‘Shengyue Jiayuan’) Church in China’s northern Shanxi Province have been accused of forming a criminal ‘clique’ and obtaining ‘illegal income’ amounting to 780,000 yuan (approx. £85,000), according to a statement published by the church on 29 June.

According to an indictment sheet shared by the church, the public prosecutors in Yaodu District, Linfen, Shanxi, have brought formal charges against preachers Li Jie, Han Xiaodong and their co-worker Wang Qiang. The indictment alleges that Li and Han, who do not hold religious clergy credentials, established an ‘illegal organisation’ without official approval in Linfen and set up several ‘illegal activity sites’ in the city together with Wang; it also alleges that they ‘lured’ many people into paying tithes and thanksgiving offerings.

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03.07.2023 – Hefei Christian Youth Fellowship: Leaders sentenced to jail terms

Bitter Winter – The group catered to the spiritual needs of Hefei college students and had refused to join the CCP-controlled Three-Self Church.

At the end of June, the Hefei Christian Youth Fellowship informed fellow house churches that two of its leaders, Mu En and Wang Yinuo, had been sentenced to jail terms.

Mu En, 35, who has an eight-year-old daughter and a six-year-old son, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison and Wang Yinuo, 33, unmarried, to three years.

Hefei is a university city, and the Christian Youth Fellowship was established to cater to the spiritual needs of college students. From a dozen members in 2018, it grew to several hundred and attracted the malevolent attention of the CCP.

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03.07.2023 – Four Shengjia Church member officially arrested for ‘illegal business operations’

ChinaAid – Public security forces formally arrested four Shengjia Church members on suspicion of “illegal business operations.” Among them were Pastor Deng Yanxiang and three co-workers. Currently, they are detained in Foshan City Nanhai District Detention Center.

On the morning of May 24, police raided Shengjia Church’s education center. Christians were getting ready for the school day. Suddenly, several dozen police, national security agents, staff of the religious affairs bureau, and the community management office rushed into the center. They searched the whole center and confiscated all the educational equipment. Officers arrested and detained Pastor Deng Yanxiang and three co-workers after the raid. Families received 30-day criminal detention notices the following day.

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Falun Gong


14.07.2023 – Shandong woman sentenced to four years for writing to friends about Falun Gong

Minghui – A 58-year-old resident of Dongying City, Shandong Province was sentenced to four years and fined 5,000 yuan on June 28, 2023, for mailing letters to her friends in her hometown of Yucheng City in the same province.

Ms. Wang Ying shared in the letters how Falun Gong restored her health. She used to suffer all kinds of ailments, including severe skin peeling, eye degeneration, rheumatoid arthritis, headaches, digestive problems, and low blood pressure. All her symptoms disappeared only two months later after she took up Falun Gong in 1996.

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09.07.2023 – Shandong man given second 4-year prison term for his faith in Falun Gong

Minghui – Mr. Zhu Tongchao was sentenced to four years on May 30, 2023, for his faith in Falun Gong.

Mr. Zhu, a native of Tancheng County, Shandong Province, was arrested together with his younger brother, Mr. Zhu Tonggui, on May 23, 2018. The brothers had been repeatedly targeted for practicing Falun Gong and lived in a rental home in Linyi City, Shandong Province at the time of their arrests.

Officer Liu Helei and others from the Lanshan District Domestic Security Office and Xijiao Police Station, both in Linyi City, used a metal bar to pry open the brothers’ rental home’s skylight and climbed down to seize them.

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06.07.2023 – Retired Professor denied pension benefits for her faith since February 2019

Minghui – A retired college professor from Suihua City, Heilongjiang Province has been denied pension benefits since February 2019, when she started serving a one-year prison sentence for her faith in Falun Gong. Ms. Gao Jinshu and her husband struggled to get by on his meager pension income during the past four-plus years.

Things got even tougher after Ms. Gao was hit by a car in May 2022, and her husband had to be hospitalized for an illness six months later. The authorities, however, have refused to reinstate her retirement benefits.

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