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REPORT — January 8, 2002

China Resumes Persecution of Christians

A Hong Kong Christian and businessman has been arrested by the Chinese authorities on charges of “assisting an evil cult.” Li Guangquiang, 38, was arrested after being caught trying to deliver 16,000 Bibles to a Christian sect called the “Shouters,” a house church movement numbering about 500,000. Li has also been accused of transporting about 17,000 Bibles in April. The Shouters is one among many house church organizations that for decades has refused to join the state-controlled church, therefore labeled as an “evil cult” by the Chinese government. Groups like the Shouters have also been outlawed because of their contacts with western Christians.

Li was arrested in May and indicted in December. Two other Chinese Christians are also being charged in connection with the illegal transporting of the Bibles. The two are Lin Xifu and Yu Zhudi, both who are leaders of the Shouters.

The South China Morning Post (January 8, 2002) reported that President George W. Bush has taken a personal interest in the detention of Li and has ordered US diplomats to take up his case. A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy was quoted as saying, “Reports of a crackdown on religious practitioners in China are deeply troubling. We call upon China as a member of the international community to meet international standards on the freedom of religious expression and freedom of conscience.”

In court, in the city of Fu Qing, Li was charged with ”using an evil cult to damage a law-based society.” The reference to an ”evil cult” can result in Li receiving the death sentence.

In another high profile case in China, house church leader Gong Shengliang was arrested and was sentenced to be put to death on January 5. Gong was granted a reprieve from his death sentence after the case attracted attention from human rights groups and U.S. government officials. According to the news agency “Compass,” Gong had been given a death sentence in a December 18 secret trial in Hubei province on charges of “complicity in rape” and “leading an evil cult.” Gong is the leader of the 50,000 member “South China” house church movement.

International Christian Concern (ICC), a human rights group based in Washington, DC, is urging Christians to call the White House to show support for President Bush’s effort to free Li Guangquiang and to encourage the President to be firm in his actions in dealing with the Chinese government on religious persecution issues. The President should also be asked to assure that the death sentence handed down to Gong Shengliang is repealed and that his request for an appeal leads to a fair trial. It should be noted that there is concern that Li and Gong are once again victims of China’s harsh polices that result in religious persecution.

ICC urges Americans to call the Chinese Embassy to raise these same concerns.

President George W. Bush
Telephone: 202-456-7549
The Embassy of the Peoples Republic of China
Telephone: 202-328-2500