A second Chinese pastor has been arrested in Zhejiang Province after he protested the government’s forcible removal of crosses from churches
A second Chinese pastor has been arrested in Zhejiang Province after he protested the government’s forcible removal of crosses from churches in the Southern coastal province. Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports the Rev. Li Guanzhong, a pastor of Puyang Christian Church in the state sanctioned China Christian Council / Three Self Patriotic Movement, was arrested on 29 Jan 2016 with his wife and charged with fraud. His arrest came two days after the arrest of the Rev. Joseph Gu, the leader of the largest congregation in Zhejiang province. On 6 Feb 2016 the Chinese government announced Mr. Gu would be charged with misuse of funds. , In a statement allegedly written by Mr. Gu and released by his lawyers, said he was cooperating with the investigation and urged members of his church not to “rally around” his case but to pray, obey the Bible, and support his successor. Pastors Gu and Li had led the opposition to the government’s church demolition program that has removed hundreds of crosses from churches since 2014 and demolished dozens of buildings. While past anti-church campaigns have focused on the underground house church movement, the latest campaign has targeted congregations approved by the government and operating under its license. Approximately eight other individuals are believed to be in some form of detention in connection with the cross removals in Zhejiang. Mervyn Thomas, Chief Executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), called on the government to investigate why several “Zhejiang pastors and Christians, have been detained and even formally arrested for peacefully expressing their opposition to the removal of crosses from churches in Zhejiang Province. We are particularly concerned that several individuals currently detained in China have written statements dismissing their legal representatives or asking others not to become involved in their cases. The Chinese authorities must urgently investigate the possibility that these statements were written under duress and must respect the right of all detainees to legal representation, in accordance with international law”.