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China Detains Managers of Australian Company for Spreading Christianity

ICC Note

Christian owners of the company remain under house arrest whereas three senior employees of the company are detained by Chinese authorities. The Chinese authorities allege the company was engaged in ‘illegal activity’ of spreading Christianity.

By Stefan J. Bos

Thursday, 22 November 2007 China (BosNewsLife)– Three senior employees of an Australian owned multi-million dollar bio-engineering corporation in China’s Guangdong province remained detained Thursday, November 22, and their company closed, over allegations of involvement in “illegal” Christian activities.

It came after Guangzhou Enoch Biological Science and Technology Co., was raided by various Chinese government agencies, said Christian rights group China Aid Association (CAA).

Two senior managers, identified as two women, Lin Chunmei, the factory director and Chen Guichan, the former CFO, have been “under criminal detention since October 29,” CAA told BosNewsLife. Another female worker, Zhang Qiao was arrested November 7, the group added.

“They were accused of illegal business management and have been held at the Detention Center of Shawan Jidi [at the] Panyu District Public Security Bureau [in] Guangzhou city,” said CAA, which has close contacts with the Christians.

The company founders, Pastor Daniel Ng and his wife Eliza were placed under house arrest in October and not allowed to leave the country, while there company was shut down and assets frozen, according to investigators.

Open Letter

In an open letter, obtained by BosNewsLife, Daniel Ng urged Chinese President Hu Jintao to intervene, saying their company only wants to help poor peasants in the region.

“Both my wife Elisa Ng and I were born in Hong Kong in 1958 [and] naturalized as Australians in 1996. In 1978, as China was just opening up and conducting reforms, my wife and I crossed Xiangjiang River and stepped on that vast expanse of mainland China for the first time,” he wrote. “Shocked by the poverty we saw there, we made up our mind to help the compatriots in our motherland.”

After several business ventures they introduced biological technology. In response to the country’s call to “promote agriculture through science and technology,” they started an enterprise concept of “protecting the nature and bring a good life to the people,” in 1999, investing millions of dollars in the region, Ng explained.

Yet, a local business authority, the Fanyu Branch of Guangzhou Municipal Administration Bureau for Industry and Commerce said in a notification that the company went beyond the scope of business approved by local authorities, adding that it products fail to meet “hygiene standards.”

Christian Publications

It stressed that Guangzhou Enoch also distributed “How to Be Guided by the Bible,” “Three-fold Missions of the Gospel” and other Christian publications related to the Bible “including audio/video products and other illegal publications that preach Christianity” without “an approval code from the State.”

In addition, it said, the company “makes misleading, false and illegal claims on their product packaging and instruction manuals.” Besides revoking the company’s business license it ordered the confiscation of over 1,000 bottles of Enoch products and nearly 700 mainly Christian “propaganda materials” and over 4.400 optical disks, according to a document released by CAA.

The company was also fined $27,000 in local currency and ordered “the misleading, false and illegal claims in its promotion materials, product packaging and instruction manuals,” a reference to the Christian literature.

Ng. denied his firm was involved in what local officials have described as “illegal religious activities” and illegal business practices saying his firm “helped the peasants and funded the college educations of students from economically strapped families.” And, “When the business operation was losing money…we still gave, for free, a large amount of probiotic bacteria beverages to sick and poor peasants and disadvantaged social groups,” Ng claimed.

Approved Scope

“Three-fold Missions of the Gospel” and “Love at Your Side” [publications] are part of the enterprise culture of the company and used to promote the image of the company. They were not sold and therefore it is impossible to produce illegal Profits,” he added.

“Enoch has neither gone beyond the approved scope of business nor changed its registration; it is inappropriate to test Enoch’s products by “Hygiene Standards for Lactic Acid Bacteria Beverages” when the products currently manufactured by Enoch are fermented fruit and vegetable juices,” Ng wrote in the letter.

He admitted that his company “held over 20 Christian-style events of seeking investment and gatherings attended by Christians specializing in the fields of industry and commerce.” However, he said, “these are all natural displays of my religious life and we never had a penny of financial support from overseas.”

Rights groups have linked pressure on Chinese and foreign Christians working in China to concerns within the Chinese authorities that they will be involved in using the upcoming Beijing Olympics to spread Christianity in this Communist-run nation. China ’s Communist Party endorses atheism.