Response: China has secret meetings with underground Church
A response to the article posted yesterday on China’s secret meetings with the underground church.
1/26/09 China (Telegraph-Blog) There’s an interesting piece today about a pair of meetings between the Chinese authorities and the underground Protestant Church.
The meetings, which reportedly happened at the end of last year, are the first sign of a rapprochement between the officially-atheist Communist Party leadership and China’s illegal “house” churches.
China has a legal (and carefully-managed) Protestant Church, called the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, standing for self-governing, self-teaching and self-supporting. Worshippers are not allowed to meet midweek, or to try to convert others.
The Communist Party, of course, doesn’t like the idea of Chinese answering to an authority higher than itself.
There have been numerous reports of police abuse and torture involving underground Christians (there are, of course, official and unofficial Catholic Churches too).
The report suggests that the government is now aiming for conciliation to ensure that there are no disturbances during the 60th anniversary of communist power this year.
Beijing may well be aiming for conciliation, but the message hasn’t been passed down to the local authorities yet, it seems.
There were a spate of arrests over Christmas – nine women in Henan were locked up for performing a nativity play on Christmas Eve, according to China Aid Association. In Anhui, 21 Christians were rounded up on December 22 and interrogated. There were also raids on Christians in Xinjiang.
At the end of November, a journalist for the Christian Science Monitor was arrested in Henan after trying to write about an illegal house church. The pastor of the church was arrested too.
One of the most prominent underground Church leaders, Pastor Zhang “Bike” Mingxuan, was beaten in October, together with his sons. The police gave him 17,000 yuan (£1,700) in December for his hospital bills, but then arrested him again on December 16 and deported him from Beijing back to Henan.