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ICC Note: A recent spate of house church closings in the Southern province of Hainan has revealed just how much power Chinese authorities have to close unofficial and therefore illegal house churches at a moments notice. While many Christians in China report that conditions have improved greatly over the past few years, the Chinese government still attempts to exert a high level of control over the growth and spread of Christianity. Pastors who refuse to close their churches, especially in more rural areas, are subject to arrest and several reports confirm that many underground Christians are regularly sentenced to time in “Re-education through Labor Camps.” 
6/18/2013 China (MNN) – A recent report from the Voice of the Martyrs Canada office shows the Chinese government has ordered the closure of more than a dozen house churches in the southern province of Hainan.
Last month, while the Sanya Hosanna Church was holding a morning worship service, several people from the Religious Affairs Bureau and the neighborhood committee disrupted the service and served this notice: “Announcement by the Hongqi Street Community of the Voluntary Dissolution of Irregular and Illegal Religious Meeting Sites.”
The committee warned the Christians that officials would take stricter measures if they met again the following week. They also put pressure on the landlord to stop renting the meeting site to the church, which was given 15 days’ notice to move out.
It didn’t stop there. According to China Aid, a ministry partnered with the Voice of the Martyrs, the leader of the church was also restricted from going to Hong Kong to attend a special conference. He was told his attendance might jeopardize national security and national interests.
On the same day, three other Sanya house churches (Elim Church, Bethel Church and XinjuChurch) faced the same kind of harassment. Days earlier, Sanya’s Mengai Church, Hexing Church, and three other house churches were shut down. A church in Haikou has experienced similar treatment, and several other churches have been forcibly closed. In addition, some churches in the Baoting county have been shut down.
“Closing a dozen churches in Hainan is an alarming sign that little has changed with Xi Jinping as president,” said ChinaAid founder and president Bob Fu. “The government is carrying out its plans to ‘eradicate’ the independent house church movement, a crackdown that would affect up to 100 million people. China must end this repression if it wants global respect as a rising power.”

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