An Yankui and Zhang Chenghao

Tourism abroad is allowed in China but not if your purpose is attending a Christian conference. Earlier this year Bitter Winter reported that several Christians from Shanxi had attended a 2020 conference organized by famous Chinese overseas evangelist Tang Chongrong. After a long investigation, Shanxi public security detained seven of them in December 2021. They were accused of illegally crossing the border and, since they had brought back from Malaysia a few Christian books and brochures, smuggling was added as a second charge.

An Yankui and Zhang Chenghao, the pastor and a co-worker of a reformed house church in Taiyuan, City of God (Hui Cheng), were formally arrested on December 28, 2021. On November 15, 2020, their church had been raided by the police and several members detained for “organizing and participating in illegal gatherings,” meaning house church religious services not part of the government-controlled Three-Self Church.

On June 16, 2022, their case was transferred to the Fenyang City Court of Shanxi province by the Procuratorate.

On November 3, An Yankui and Zhang Chenghao were sentenced to one year of detention by the Fenyang City Court for illegally crossing the border. Since they have already been in preliminary detention for eleven months, they should be able to go home at the end of this month. 

The principle has however been established that traveling abroad to attend religious events (except within the context of propaganda tours organized by the five authorized religions) is a crime in China, punished with jail penalties.