Qiao Nong | China Aid
Xinyuan County,Xinjiang — Two organizers of a Christian summer camp were detained in China’s northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, for 10 and 15 days, respectively, on Aug. 4 on the charge of indoctrinating minors with superstitious beliefs.
Zhou Yanhua and Gao Ming, both members of Yining County Church, were preparing to drive a group of children to a summer camp when, half an hour before they were set to depart, police arrived to detain the two women and take all of the children present to the police station to register their IDs.
An elder from Yining County Church, Xie Xianhua, said officials also called the families and school teachers of the children involved, threatening to deduct the teachers’ wages or keep the students from being admitted to higher grade levels.
Authorities detained Gao, a 27-year-old seminary student at Yanjing Theological Seminary, for 15 days. Zhou, the head of the church sponsoring the summer camp, received a 10-day detention after she told police that she was the organizer of the event in an attempt to free Gao.
Both women were accused of indoctrinating minors with superstitious beliefs. Chinese law forbids religious teaching to anyone under the age of 18, believing matters of faith to be dangerous brainwashing from which children must be protected. Christian parents and church leaders can face disciplinary action from officials for involving their children in any Christian activities.
Gao’s status as a student at an official, government-sanctioned seminary reveals that not only house churches are at risk for government suppression. Members of China’s official Protestant church, the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, are also targeted.
A conversation on the Chinese messaging application WeChat between fellow Yanjing Theological Seminary students discussing Gao’s detention has been translated below.