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Zhejiang Church Faces Demolition Threat

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China Aid

[caption id="attachment_5243" align="alignleft" width="225"]Xialing Christian Church, with debris from the demolished wall visible on the steps. (Photo: WeChat) Xialing Christian Church,
with debris from the demolished wall visible
on the steps. (Photo: WeChat)[/caption]

(Wenzhou, Zhejiang—Nov. 20, 2015) On Nov. 11, authorities in China’s coastal Zhejiang issued a demolition notice to a government-sanctioned Three-Self church, announcing the impending destruction of the church on Nov. 16.

Xialing Christian Church, located in the Lucheng District of Wenzhou, has faced demolition threats for more than a year. On numerous occasions, church members have gathered at the church to protect the building and its cross. On Oct. 9, 2014, authorities successfully destroyed the church’s outer wall after church members prevented them from reaching the cross atop the building. Two months later, on Dec. 2, the church was issued an ultimatum to either disband or be demolished.

In response, Xialing Christian Church hired a team of human rights lawyers, including Zhang Kai, who, through a lawsuit, were able to temporarily halt the demolition. The success of Xialing’s case helped Zhang gain distinction over the next year and by August 2015, he was representing nearly 100 other churches in the area.

Zhang and some of his assistants were living in Xialing Christian Church when authorities climbed the church walls and detained them just before midnight on Aug. 25. Zhang has since been accused of crimes that threaten national security and was extra-judicially sentenced to a six-month detention in a “black jail,” which takes place in an undisclosed location. Chinese prisoners are often tortured in black jails, which are officially termed “residential surveillance in a designated location.” Zhang’s own lawyers have been unable meet with him or learn of his location.

The notice issued to Xialing Christian Church on Nov. 11 stated that the church violated construction regulations and failed to carry out the demolition themselves before a prescribed deadline. The notice warned that officials would carry out the demolition on Nov. 16, which “no group or individual [should] thwart.” China Aid has received confirmation that the demolition did not occur as scheduled, but has no further details at this time.

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