China: Zhejiang province ‘anti-church’ campaign

Authorities in China are continuing their campaign of church demolition. The Guardian reports that Christians in Wenzhou – a city known as ‘China’s Jerusalem’ due to its 1,500 churches – say that they have not seen such sustained persecution since the Cultural Revolution.

Between 3 and 6 am on 17 June the cross that topped Guantou church in Wenzhou was removed. Officials were reported to have threatened to tear down the entire church if members tried to prevent this action: in April a mega-church in nearby Sanjiang was indeed completely demolished.

The Telegraph reports that statistics compiled by Christian activists show cross removals and church demolitions have continued apace in recent weeks. At least 15 churches have received notices from authorities in the last week informing them that if they do not “voluntarily” remove their crosses by the end of this month they will face demolition. Christian advocacy group China Aid says that around 360 church buildings and crosses have been demolished already this year.

When Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was questioned about China’s human rights record on his visit to London this week, he replied that his country was protecting and advancing human rights in line with its constitutional obligations while “choosing our own path in accordance with our own national conditions”.