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Frail Chinese Christian Activist “Near Death”

ICC Note:

Hua Zaichen, an elderly Christian man known for his work among persecuted believers in China, is close to death. He has been denied a final meeting he requested with his imprisoned wife.

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1/29/09 China (BosNewsLife) A frail elderly Christian man, known for his work among reportedly persecuted believers, was “near death” Thursday, January 29, but authorities denied him a final meeting with his imprisoned Christian wife, friends told BosNewsLife.

Hua Zaichen, 91, who wanted to see his wife Shuang Shuying, 79, for a last time was hospitalized Wednesday, January 28, Christians said. “Sources report that officials are fearful they will be held accountable for his death because of the international attention to this case,” said China Aid Association (CAA), an advocacy group closely monitoring the case.

CAA said it has urged the international community “to speak out for this elderly Christian couple whom authorities have treated with cruelty and injustice.”

Chinese Christians reportedly said that Hua Zaichen was taken to the emergency room of Beijing Dianli Hospital because he was suffering from shortness of breath. “At the hospital, his heart stopped beating for a period of time, but doctors were able to revive and stabilize him,” CAA added.

However, “He is still having difficulty breathing. The doctor told Hua Zaichen’s son, Pastor Hua Huiqi, to prepare for his father’s death.”

An officer of China’s main law enforcement agency, the Public Security Bureau (PSB), identified as Yang Guanghong, reportedly came to the hospital to check whether Hua Zaichen was still alive. “Authorities feared that they could be held accountable for his death because of the international media and prayer campaign launched by CAA and support by many caring individuals worldwide,” CAA added.

BosNewsLife was among media extensively reporting on the case.

“VERY ANGRY”

Chinese officials could not immediately be reached for comment. Christians in China have been quoted as saying that local authorities are “very angry at Pastor Hua Huiqi for releasing information to the media about their threats to him and their treatment of his mother in prison.”

CAA said officials are also “furious that Pastor Hua continually refuses to act as an informant for the PSB,” a practice that forces Christians to spy on fellow believers.

Hua Zaichen and Shuang Shuying are Christians and have been prosecuted for years by the Chinese government, because of their family’s work in caring for the poor and those complaining of oppression, and allowing reportedly persecuted Christians to stay in their home, according to Christians and advocacy groups. Shuang Shuying already spent two years in prison on what rights groups describe as “fabricated charges”, and has reportedly been ill most of the time, apparently because of mistreatment.

The couple’s son, Pastor Hua Huiqi, said in published remarks that he wanted to “thank all those who have already supported” his parents “by speaking out, praying and sending help.”

“DEEPLY ENCOURAGED”

He reportedly said he was “was deeply encouraged when he heard that many caring people all over of the world had been praying for his father.” He added, “No wonder we saw this miracle last night after the death valley,” referring to when his father “came back to life” after his heart stopped. “We felt the reality of the prayers from caring brothers and sisters.”

Pastor Hua and CAA said they have appealed “to the international community to speak out now, and ask that the authorities release his mother immediately and be allowed to meet with his father before he dies.”

The developments come at a time when Chinese Christians report an increased government crackdown on house churches and missionary groups in the Communist-run Asian nation.

Authorities have denied wrongdoing, saying believers are freed to worhip in the ‘official’ denominations. However many of the up to 130 million Christians in the country prefer to worship outside those churches, saying they want to “worship Christ” without state interference, BosNewsLife monitored.