Officials Detain Eight Groups of Protestants in February and March

March 31, 2006

Public security officials have detained Protestants on eight occasions and in seven Chinese provinces since February 13, according to reports by the China Aid Association (CAA), a U.S. NGO that monitors religious freedom in China.

Public security officials have detained Protestants on eight occasions and in seven Chinese provinces since February 13, according to reports by the China Aid Association (CAA), a U.S. NGO that monitors religious freedom in China.

  • On February 13, officials detained more than a dozen Protestant house church leaders in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, including pastor Lou Yuanqi, who as of March 10 was held at the Huocheng County Detention Center.
  • On February 26, officials raided a Protestant house church service in Pizhou city, Jiangsu province. Officials declared the service “illegal” because the church was not registered, and briefly detained pastor Chu Huaiting, Wang Chaoying, Wang Jing, and Xue Yuanling, and beat several older members of the church. According to another CAA report, officials released the four detainees on the same evening. With respect to whether or not the service was "illegal," Article 12 of the Regulation on Religious Affairs (issued 2004) provides that religious activities "shall, in general, be held at registered sites for religious activities...and presided over by religious personnel or other persons who are qualified under the prescriptions of the religion concerned." The Chinese government generally qualifies only religious personnel who submit to state control of religious groups, and harasses, detains, and sometimes arrests believers who choose to worship outside state-controlled venues.
  • On March 1, officials raided a Protestant house church Bible school in Huaibei city, Anhui province. Officials detained about 36 house church leaders, teachers, and students, including pastors Chu Huaiting (whom officials had detained several days earlier in Jiangsu--see above), Liu Haiting, Liang Zhenjun, and Joseph Wang.
  • On March 6, officials raided a Bible study meeting at a registered Protestant church in Xiangcheng county, Henan province. Officials declared the meeting “illegal,” allegedly because registered pastor Liu Tuanjie conducted the session outside his designated geographic area. Officials detained Liu, Li Xueqin, and a Mrs. Ma, whom officials released after her family paid a fine of 3,000 yuan (approximately $400).
  • On March 6, officials detained Ruan Yonggui and Liu Fukao, Protestant house church pastors in Shanxi province. Both Ruan and Liu are affiliated with the China Gospel Fellowship, a network of house churches which has several million members, according to an Overseas Missionary Fellowship report.
  • On March 10, the China Aid Association reported that officials had “recently” placed Su Wenxing, a Protestant orchestra conductor and an ethnic Miao, under house arrest in Beijing. Su has conducted high-profile performances of religious music in China and abroad, as discussed in a May 2004 article in World magazine.
  • On March 13, officials raided a meeting of Protestant house church leaders in Wen county, Henan province, detained about 80 house church leaders, but released 36 of the leaders within 24 hours. According to a subsequent CAA report, officials released an additional three leaders on March 18 and six more on March 20. Fifteen leaders remain in detention. Officials reportedly beat many of the leaders (Pastor Li Gongshe, one of the detainees, has been hospitalized), and forced a 21-year-old woman to strip during interrogation. Among those still detained as of March 21 were Ma Wenqing, Zhang Jinzhi, Pastor Zhang Liang, Zhang Suihong, Xian Guirong, Wei Rongzhen, Li De'an, Xu Xuemin, Wang Xiaoai, Pastor Li Huimin, Zheng Liting, Yue Jianghui, Li Hongmin, and Pastor Fan Zhongyu. The detentions occurred in Henan province, where the house church movement is particularly strong. A review published by the state-controlled Amity News Service, which communicates the views of China's registered Protestant church, acknowledges the strength of the house church movement in Henan. In 2005, a number of house church Protestants were detained in Henan province, including detentions in May and June and July and August, and one incident of detention each in October and December.
  • On March 20, officials raided a Bible study meeting and detained Lian Changnian, a Protestant house church pastor, in Xiantao city, Hubei province. Pastor Lian is from Xi'an city in Shanxi province. Officials released Pastor Lian after 10 days of detention, according to a March 29 Christian Monitor report.

In November 2005, officials detained four groups of unregistered Protestants and five groups of unregistered Catholics, and detained unregistered Protestants in mid-December, around Christmas, and again in January.

For more information on Protestants in China, see the CECC 2005 Annual Report, Section III(d).