Officials in China have ordered an end to a protracted anti-church demolition campaign which has seen at least 400 churches in Zhejiang facing total or partial destruction.
According to a report in The Telegraph, there has been an internal order calling for an end to the demolition of churches and their crosses.
Quoted in Hong Kong’s Ming Pao newspaper, Chinese Bishop Paul Meng Qinglu, deputy chairman of the Communist party-controlled Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, said instructions had been given to ‘stop demolishing’.
During a meeting of religious leaders in Beijing, the Catholic leader said that officials had claimed the one-year campaign was aimed at all illegal structures, and not just Christian churches.
The protracted campaign against churches drew severe criticism from the international community, including Amnesty International. In a statement earlier this year, Amnesty called these ‘building code violations’ a ‘pretext for a large-scale campaign against churches’.
The Telegraph highlighted one case, where thousands of believers occupied the Sanjiang mega-church in April 2014 in a failed attempt to save it from destruction.
Christian group China Aid revealed that three Christians who had opposed the demolitions were released earlier this month, after spending a total of 255 days in police detention.