Yunnan, a North Carolina pastor sentenced to seven years in prison

He is charged with attempting to illegally cross the border with Myanmar, where John Cao founded 16 schools. He was arrested, more than a year ago together with his collaborator. Beijing clamps down on Protestant pastors.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Chinaaid) - The Provincial Court of Yunnan has sentenced John Cao, a pastor from North Carolina, to seven years in prison for having "organized illegal border crossings". His collaborator, Jing Ruxia, has also been charged.

The pastor is the founder of 16 schools that provide education to more than 2,000 children in Wa, the northern Myanmar. He also founded a church in his home province of Hunan, served as a pastor for China Ministries International and volunteered for the victims of the earthquake in 2008 in the Wenchuan area of ​​Sichuan province. He officially resides in North Carolina since he married the American Jamie Powell in 1988, who lives in the United States with their two children.

Cao and Jing were arrested for attempting to cross the border between China and Myanmar on March 5, 2017. The arrest was notified to Cao's family 20 days later. Before that time, the pastor and his coworker used to cross the border without incident.

After almost a year of detention, the trial began on February 9 this year, and the pastor was sentenced to seven years in prison and a fine of 20 thousand yuan (about 2,500 euros). Jing, was sentenced to one year in prison and a fine of 5,000 yuan (about 650 euros), but has already been released having already spent a year in custody.