CHINA: Religious persecution and issues – Bimonthly Digest May 16-31




15.05.2024 – Religion in China – Amid an economic boom and rapid modernization, religion in China has been on the rise in recent decades. Experts point to the emergence of a spiritual vacuum as a trigger for the growing number of religious believers, particularly followers of Christianity and traditional Chinese religious groups.


While China’s constitution allows religious belief, Chinese Buddhism, Daoism, and folk practices are shown more leniency than other religions, such as Islam and Christianity, which are regarded as “foreign” by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). In recent years, adherents across all religious organizations, including both state-sanctioned and underground and banned groups, face intensifying persecution and repression.


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30.05.2024 – Diocese of Baoding, repression of Catholic conscientious objectors continue


Bitter Winter – Catholic conscientious objectors continue to be active in China. And they continue to be persecuted. After the Vatican-China deal of 2018, the Holy See encouraged the Catholics to join the once excommunicated Patriotic Catholic Church, controlled by the government. It also clarified that those who refuse to do so for reasons of conscience, although not encouraged nor approved by the Vatican, are not excommunicated, are still part of the Catholic Church, and should be treated with “respect.”


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22.05.2024 – Catholic priests Chen Hekun and Chi Huitian have been forcibly disappeared


China Aid – The Baoding Diocese in Hebei Province, China, is one of the largest underground (unofficial) Catholic groups in China, with a long history and one of the most thriving and populous dioceses. It is also one of the dioceses the Chinese Communist Party has kept a close watch on. Recently, it was reported that two priests from the Baoding Diocese, Hebei Province, went missing last month for no apparent reason.


According to the Chinese Catholic news website – Catholic Online, Father Chen Hekun of the Baoding Diocese in Hebei Province was forcibly disappeared from his home in Zhangjiakou City, Hebei Province, on April 29 this year.


Reports indicate that Father Chen Hekun is currently detained in Anxin County. The reasons for his detention by the Chinese authorities are unknown.


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21.05.2024 – Vatican makes fresh overture to China, reaffirms that Catholic Church is no threat to sovereignty


apnews – The Vatican made another big overture to China on Tuesday, reaffirming the Catholic Church poses no threat to Beijing’s sovereignty and admitting that Western missionaries had made “errors” in past centuries in their zeal to convert the Chinese faithful.


The Vatican hosted the head of China’s bishops conference for an unprecedented, high-level commemoration of a landmark 1924 meeting in Shanghai that affirmed the need for foreign missionaries in China to give way to local church leaders.


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Church of Almighty God



17.05.2024 – Torino, Church of Almighty God Refugees in Italy speak at a Religious Liberty Event


Bitter Winter – On May 11, in Torino, within the framework of a set of initiatives organized by the local committee Fedinsieme (Faiths Together) and by the Italian chapter of the International Religious Freedom Roundtable during the International Book Fair, a delegation of The Church of Almighty God presented a musical show and a testimony by one of their refugees in Italy.


After the audience had admired the grace and skills of the performers, one refugee spoke about the problems The Church of Almighty God encounters both in China and in Europe. “I am not here,” she said speaking to an audience coming from different countries, “to present a political position but to testify about the problems of religious liberty in China: my own problems and the reasons I am in Italy.”


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28.05.2024 – China cracks down on Tibetans during holy month


RFA – Chinese authorities have instructed Tibetan students, government workers and retirees to refrain from engaging in religious activities in Tibet’s capital Lhasa during the Buddhist holy month of Saga Dawa, four sources said.

The Saga Dawa festival occurs during the fourth month of the Tibetan lunar calendar and runs from May 9 to June 6 this year.


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17.05.2024 – China’s crackdown on religion highlighted at parliamentary event – This week saw a well-attended event in parliament, co-organised by Free Tibet’s research partner Tibet Watch and the organisation China Watch.

Fiona Bruce, Conservative MP for Congleton, hosted the event, which took place on the evening of Wednesday 15 May.

The event was packed with at least 40 invited guests in the room and the rest of audience spilling out into the corridor.


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Falun Gong


30.05.2024 – Having been jailed for 7 years and widowed in persecution of Falun Gong, Heilongjiang woman stands trial again for her faith.


Minghui –  A resident of Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province, stood trial on May 20, 2024 for her faith in Falun Gong.


Ms. Xu Wenying testified in her own defense. Her two lawyers also defended her constitutional right to freedom of belief. Judge Chen Zaoqiang of the Harbin Railway Transportation Court kept interrupting the lawyers. He also barred Ms. Xu’s daughter from attending the nearly three-hour-long hearing on the grounds that it was not an open hearing.


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26.05.2024 – Changchun, Jilin Province: 46 arrested in one month’s time, 28 still detained


Minghui – At least 46 Falun Gong practitioners in Changchun City, Jilin Province were arrested between mid-April and mid-May 2024. April 19 and May 10 saw the most arrests, with 16 on each day.


According to insiders, the mass arrests were orchestrated by the Jilin Province Political and Legal Affairs Committee (PLAC) and its subordinate Changchun City PLAC and 610 Office. The PLAC and 610 Office are both extrajudicial agencies tasked with overseeing the persecution of Falun Gong. Most of the arrests were carried out by the Erdao District Police Department and its subordinate police stations. A few remaining arrests were conducted by police agencies in Lyuyuan District and Nongan County.


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29.04.2024 – Officials in Lianing province publish sinicization hymns

China Aid – The official Chinese Communist Party continues to pursue the “Sinicization of hymns,” an effort that has become one of the key elements of the “Sinicization of religion,” to prompt the integration of Christianity with traditional Chinese culture. Rev. Hou Yujie, chairman and president of the official Liaoning Provincial Christian Council and the Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee in Yingkou, Liaoning Province, Northeast China, wrote a collection of poems on the theme of “Sinicization of Christianity.” These poems contained lyrics that echoed the political views of the CCP, seriously departing from the biblical and theological traditions of Christianity, turning praise of the Trinity and Christ into idolatry of the State, and turning hymns of praise for the Lord into hymns of praise for the Party.


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29.05.2024 – WCC strengthens ties with Chinese religious leaders to promote unity and contextualized faith


China Aid – As the World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary, Rev. Prof. Dr. Jerry Pillay, continued his visit to China, discussions have focused on the contextualization of faith and the strengthening of collaboration with Christians and inter-religious partners. The visit included meetings with the Amity Foundation and various religious and governmental leaders.


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21.05.2024 – Pastor Wan Changchun’s family blocked from attendind pretrial meeting.


China Aid – On May 13, 2024, a pre-trial meeting was held at the Yuhui District Court in Bengbu City, Anhui Province for the case of Pastor Wan Changchun, Elder Xue Shaoqiang, co-worker Cao Binting, and Wan Chunqin of the Cornerstone Reformed Church in Bengbu, who were accused of “fraud.” All four Christians attended the hearing. It is reported that their attitude was peaceful and they still have the willingness to suffer for the Lord. They do not acknowledge any connection between the church’s acceptance of offerings and fraud. The court has temporarily notified that the formal trial will begin on May 16.


The lawyers believe that the court has generally protected the legal practice of the defense lawyers. However, the court initially blocked family members from entering, then agreed to let them pass, but unfortunately they were unable to see their imprisoned family members.


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17.05.2024 – Sentence announced: Preacher Chang Hao released on time served


China Aid – On the morning of May 14, 2024, the case of preacher Chang Hao, who was accused of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” reached a verdict. The Zhenxiong Court sentenced Chang Hao to one year and one month in prison. Chang Hao was arrested on April 14, 2023, exactly one year and one month ago today. Therefore, after the verdict was announced, Chang Hao immediately walked out of the courtroom with his family and brothers and sisters in Christ, gaining his freedom. Chang Hao took a commemorative photo with everyone at the courthouse door.


At 4:30 p.m. Beijing time, Chang Hao’s wife Enlin said in her WeChat Moments: “Thank you everyone, we are already on our way home!” At 7:55 p.m., she posted again in Moments, saying, “Thank God! After a year and a month, Brother Chang Hao came out today. Thank you, brothers, sisters, and family for welcoming him home together at the courthouse door.”


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16.05.2024 – “This is actually political persecution’: detained pastor Zhou Songlin responds to Church conflict”


China Aid – On May 5, 2024, Pastor Zhou Songlin of Ganquan Church in Hefei, Anhui Province, responded from prison to the recent divisions among church co-workers over his wife and Elder Ding Zhongfu’s wife hiring defense lawyers for them. He said the persecution he and Elder Ding Zhongfu are facing is actually political persecution. They did not actively participate in politics, but were forced into it, only to realize the church is not in a political vacuum.


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