Fang Baoluo, Special correspondent | ChinaAid
Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province — Early February 1, for the second time since 2014, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials forcibly removed and demolished the cross of 100-yr-old Shuixin X’tian Church in Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province. A large number of armed Chinese police officers raided the church to facilitate the annihilation of the cross from the church roof top. Shuixin X’tian Church had reinstalled its cross in late 2018 after CCP authorities had removed it in 2014.
Believers attending this church reported their rejection of local government officials’ request to remove the cross from their church’s roof escalated to authorities forcibly removing it.
During the forced removal process which took approximately two hours to complete, more than 10 government-contracted men used a crane to hoist the cross from the church roof. Several hours earlier on January 31, around 11:30 pm, Zhou Qingquan (deputy secretary of Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Yaoxi subdistrict, Longwan district) and Hu Xiandong (commissioner of unit front work department, Yaoxi subdistrict, Longwan district) rushed into the church with approximately 100 security guards. After cutting off the electricity, the team hurriedly took the church’s night watch staff into custody.
A Christian observer reported:
Several security guards held one church co-worker in a headlock and confiscated his cell phone. They warned him, “Do not fight back. We are enforcing orders from higher officials.” One security guard threatened to beat a church co-worker, but another officer stopped him.
The forcible cross removal began at 11:30 pm on January 31 and ended at 1:35 am, February 1.
One believer attending Shuixin church posted on social media:
The CCP has forcibly removed Shuixin church’s cross several times in the past. During the first cross removal at 2 pm on June 30, 2014, the Zhejiang government had launched a campaign called “Renovation of old residential areas, old industrial plants and urban-villages, and demolishing of illegal buildings.”
Government contractors forcibly removed the cross from Shuixin church in the name of “demolishing of illegal buildings.”
Mr. Lin, another local Christian said: “In 2014, the government paid a number of security guards to remove crosses from churches. While the men forcibly removed our church’s cross, they held brothers and sisters in custody. Four years later, we re-erected our cross, but now CCP officials have removed it again.
According to the church’s believers, Shuixin church, built in 1928 had been rebuilt at the same location in 1986 and then again, later in 2005. Both rebuilds followed all legal procedures. The Zhejiang provincial religious affairs bureau approved the projects. The church received the legal land and property ownership certificates.
Mr. Wang, one more local Believer, did not try to hide his anger when he said: “Government officials claim a cross on a church roof top makes the city look bad and blocks a driver’s sight. They refused to approve for Shuixin Church to put the cross on its roof top.”
Another believer of Shuixin Church posted on social media: The government forcibly removed the cross on our church’s rooftop. He questioned:
- Why would such a brutal conflict happen in a civil society?
- Who openly challenged the authority of the Constitution?
- Who are those trampling on believers’ dignity and bottom line?*
On January 26, the Zhejiang provincial Christian committee and the Three-self movement committee issued a notice to temporarily ban all religious activities in the entire province in the name of pandemic prevention and control. Mr. Lin asserts: “The real purpose of the notice is not to control the spread of COVID-19, but to use it as an excuse to deprive people of their religious activities.”ChinaAid strongly condemns the CCP’s forcible removal of Shuixin Church’s cross, and urges officials: Respect China’s “constitutional” right for “freedom of religious belief”—stop infringing on Chinese citizen’s religious freedom.