Chinese crackdown feared
The Beijing Olympics have won international praise, but Christians fear pressure could again mount as the world’s eyes turn away from scrutinising the country’s human rights practices. Several high-profile Christians have had run-ins with Chinese officials during the games – and they are now bracing themselves for a ‘new crackdown’ planned for October.
Among those harassed during the Olympics were Beijing activist Hua Huiqi and Pastor Zhang ‘Bike’ Mingxuan, president of the China House Church Alliance. Hua was arrested as he tried to attend a service at the government-approved Kuanjie Protestant church which President George Bush was scheduled to attend. Officers seized and kicked him and threatened to break his legs.
Amazingly, Hua escaped from custody later that day and went into hiding. Hua has since written to President Bush asking for prayer for religious freedom for China’s people. Hua’s mother Shuang Shuying was jailed last year in a move widely believed as punishing Hua for his activities.
Pastor Zhang was detained, along with his wife Xie Fenlang and co-pastor Wu Jiang He, as he was waiting for BBC journalist John Simpson to arrive for an interview. Pastor Zhang and Xie had earlier been evicted from their home and several other addresses in Beijing before the police took them by force to
It has emerged that officials forced several house church leaders in Beijing to sign an agreement that they would not hold services for 17 weeks spanning the Games. China Aid reports that in October the authorities plan to clamp down on ‘troublesome elements’ including house church leaders and dissidents.
The crackdown will coincide with a new campaign by the Communist Party for ‘twenty more years of political and social stability’, according to a report from Release International.