Worlds apart: Beijing imprisons Christian believers. Taipei opens religious centres
The arrest of Protestant pastor An Yankui and one of his collaborators has been formalised in Shanxi. The two have been in prison for more than a month over a trip to Malaysia. The authorities ban their wives and lawyers from visiting them. Meanwhile, Taiwan inaugurates a Jewish cultural centre.
Beijing (AsiaNews) - The Public Procuratorate of Fenyang (Shanxi) has formalised the arrest of An Yankui (see photo), minister of the Reformed Church of Zion. He is accused of having "illegally crossed" the border. ChinaAid reports that the official arrest was filed on 28th December, more than a month after the Protestant pastor was imprisoned on 21st November.
The official communication only recently reached An's wife . He is now in Xiaoyi prison. One of his collaborators, Zhang Chenghao, is also being held in the same prison on the same charges. Due to Covid-19 and national security issues, prison police have so far prevented the wives and lawyers of the two Christians from visiting them in prison.
According to the authorities, the Protestant minister and his aide broke the law when they left China to attend a religious conference in Malaysia. However, family members specified that the two had travelled with a regular passport and the necessary visa. For the same "crime", on the day of An and Zhang Chenghao's arrest, the judicial authorities opened the trial of six other people linked to the Reformed Church of Zion.
Protestant sources say that the number of believers in China is around 100 million; other more sober sources stop at 60 million. In any case, the figure is much higher than that of the official bodies, which set it at 30 million.
The Chinese regime's grip on religious freedom is getting tighter and tighter. Last month, the State Administration for Religious Affairs published new measures to regulate religious activity on the internet, banning masses, sermons, training and all religious information services without prior government approval.
In February 2020, the State Administration for Religious Affairs published "Administrative Measures for Religious Personnel", a document on the management of clergy, monks, priests, bishops, etc. Two years earlier, the Chinese Communist Party had adopted the "New Regulations on Religious Activities", according to which religious personnel can only carry out their functions if they adhere to "official" bodies and submit to the Party.
While religious communities in China are being seized, Jewish centres are opening in Taiwan. Since 29th December, Taipei's Jewish faithful have had their own cultural centre, a way of fostering exchanges between the Taiwanese population and the Jewish world. In terms of religious openness, the island also stands out from repressive Communist China for its democratic values. Beijing considers Taiwan a "rebel" province and does not rule out taking it back by force.