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  • » 06/24/2015, 00.00


    Zhejiang: cross taken down in Hangzhou, another set for removal in Jinhua

    John Ai

    The Panshi Church belongs to the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, a government-controlled Protestant organisation, and had all the permits. In a single night, police removed the cross as the members of the congregation prayed, helpless and cordoned off from the building. In 2012, when the building was inaugurated, it had received glowing reviews in the local media, as it was “delicate in shape, beautiful in design, complete in religious functions”. The decision to remove the cross is part of the ‘Three Rectifications and One Demolition’ campaign, which has already “rectified” 425 churches.

    Hangzhou (AsiaNews) – Zhejiang police successfully removed the cross that towered over the Panshi (Rock) Church in Hangzhou, the provincial capital.

    The building, which is new, belongs to the Three-self Patriotic Movement. It was built with all the required permits and was inaugurated in September 2012.

    The operation of removing the cross began at midnight last Saturday and ended at 7 am. It is part of an ongoing campaign, led by the local Communist party chief, aimed at crosses and churches in Zhejiang province. So far, 425 churches have been affected.

    Members of the Panshi congregation tried in vain to stop police. Their pastor, Rev Hu Yuanquan had asked the staff to offer "no collaboration, no obedience, no violence". After a night praying, the faithful watched, helpless as the cross was removed (pictured).

    In order to get inside the building, police broke down its doors. During the removal, it cordoned off the area, to prevent the faithful from coming near the building. Once the cross was removed, it was loaded onto a lorry and taken away at about 8 am.

    The anti-cross campaign is called ‘Three Rectifications and One Demolition’ and is part of a plan to tear down all illegal buildings in Zhejiang.

    Authorities claim that are not targeting religious buildings, and yet, Christian buildings have suffered the brunt of the campaign, even those built with all required permits and already approved by the authorities.

    The Panshi Church in fact belongs to the Hangzhou Three-self Patriotic Movement Committee (which includes China’s Protestant groups), and is located in the city’s Xiasha District.

    Fu Xianwei, the president of National Committee of Three-Self Patriotic Movement, and local government officials attended the church’s inauguration ceremony in 2012.

    At that time, the local paper, the Hangzhou Daily, had published a glowing review of the church.

    Calling the structure, "delicate in shape, beautiful in design, complete in religious functions", the paper wrote, "from project approval, preparation and establishment to construction, [. . .] relevant officials of municipal party committee and government have attached importance and offered support to Xiasha Panshi Church”.  

    "The completion of this church,” the paper went on to say, “will not only satisfy the demand of local and migrants' religious demand, stimulate the enthusiasm in social and economic construction, but will also be the window for exchange with the outside, serving economic development and cultural exchange.”

    The campaign against the crosses and churches began in 2014 under Xia Baolong, Zhejiang party secretary who noted that the skyline in Wenzhou, one of the province’s cities, had "too many crosses."

    Christians believe that the real reason is that the authorities want to reduce the impact and influence of Christian communities, both official and underground, in Chinese society, because of a recent jump in conversions.

    Last May, Zhejiang authorities issued a draft proposal with regulations for religious buildings. In it, it lays down the terms for colour, size and location of crosses.

    Crosses on steeples are no longer allowed; the Christian symbol instead would have to be inserted into the walls of the building. Its colour may not stand out, and its length should not exceed one-tenth of the building.

    Several Christian leaders in Zhejiang have criticised this proposal, whose final version and details the government has not yet released.

    Meanwhile, another church in Jinhua is getting ready to have its own cross torn down tomorrow. The decision was verbally relayed to the congregation; however, no formal confirmation has been issued.

    Even in this case, the faithful note that the church has all the necessary papers to show that it was built with government authorisation.

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    See also

    03/04/2017 19:06:00 CHINA
    Anti-terrorism cameras installed in Wenzhou churches (Zhejiang) spark Christian protest

    The authorities order churches to install cameras at the gates, rostrums, offering boxes, and other places. This comes three years after a campaign to tear down crosses and churches. The authorities tighten their grip over religious activity.

    29/03/2016 14:48:00 CHINA
    The miracle of conversions and baptisms in China

    An estimated 20,000 people were baptised on Easter night. Just outside Shanghai, 27 baptised people join a community of 100. Rampant materialism and individualism drive people to convert. Underground communities celebrated Easter without songs and in small groups.

    30/07/2015 CHINA
    Unofficial catholic community of Wenzhou speak out against forced demolition of Crosses, whole diocese fasting
    After 90-year-old Bishop Vincent Zhu Weifang of Wenzhou led 26 priests of the open Church community to protest against the government’s act to demolish Crosses, Coadjutor Bishop James Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou also led his priests to issue an open statement “Strongly demand a halt to demolish Crosses on all churches.

    05/04/2016 17:25:00 CHINA
    Anti-cross demolition fighter Rev Gu Yuese released

    The clergyman heads the Chongyi Church, China’s largest official Protestant group with about 10,000 members. Arrested on charges of "embezzlement", he was held in a secret place for three months. Over the past two years, he has openly slammed a campaign by the authorities against Christian symbols.

    07/09/2016 11:40:00 CHINA - VATICAN
    Bishop Zhu Weifang of Wenzhou, the city of demolished crosses, has died

    The coadjutor bishop, Msgr. Peter Shao Zhumin, has been kidnapped by the police to prevent him attending the funeral, as he is not recognized by the government. Three priests also kidnapped. The state authorities have banned the underground faithful from participating in the funeral. The late bishop had spent 16 years at hard labor and in jail.


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