Police in eastern China failed to remove a cross from a church after Christian protestors surrounded the building at 2am on Monday (21 July).
Reuters reports that the police had been following a Government order and several people were injured during the altercation in Pingyang county near Wenzhou city. The site was subsequently locked down by authorities.
Churches across Zhejiang, located south of Shanghai, have received official notices during the past few weeks calling for buildings to be demolished and crosses to be removed during a campaign against illegal structures.
The decision ignores the right of protection of religious freedom as enshrined in the constitution of China.
A witness said: “We are Christians and are not looking for trouble, and if the government comes to us with reasonable requests, we will not oppose it. But using force on us at 2am is unacceptable and we cannot understand why they are doing it.”
There are 65 million Christians in China belonging to either the underground church or controlled state churches.