ICC NOTE: Chinese authorities have released the director of a church-run kindergarten in southern Guangxi after spending two years in detention. Cheng Jie was detained in February of 2014 for illegal business practices. Around the same time the pastor of the partner church was also detained along with two other individuals connected with the partnership. The detained and those who know them believed the detention was not due to illegal business practices but due to their connection to a local church.
2/18/2016 Guangxi, China (China Aid) – The director of a church-run kindergarten in China’s southern Guangxi was released from prison today after serving two years for “engaging in illegal business operations.”
Cheng Jie, the director of the Hualin Foreign Language Experimental Kindergarten, was released today and was picked up from the prison by her husband and two sons.
Lizhou authorities detained Cheng from the school on Feb. 18, 2014. Guangxi officials crossed the border into the neighboring Guangdong province on June 24, 2014, and detained Huang Qiurui, the elder of Guangzhou’s Liangren Church, which founded Hualin Kindergarten. Along with Huang, authorities detained Li Jiatao, a Liangren Church member, and Fang Bin, a man contracted to print textbooks for the school.
Officials alleged that all four had engaged in “illegal business operations” by printing character-education textbooks without approval without government approval and then selling the books rather than using them solely for internal use.
The lawyer defending the four detainees countered that the books were sold for an amount that only allowed the Kindergarten to break even for printing costs and that authorities were targeting the school because it was founded by a church.
Cheng, Huang, and Li were convicted and sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of 5,000 Yuan (U.S. $765) each. Fang was sentenced to a year and nine months in prison.