ICC Note: China’s fear of mass crowds and Western religion extends far back beyond the beginning of the nation’s Communist Party. But China’s decision to silence churches in expectation of diplomatic missions from numerous nations of deep Christian influence such as Germany, Argentina, and the United States is a bold one and perhaps unwise, given that these G20 nations may openly question why China would act in such a way when there is no clear provision for the crackdown in Chinese law. The Communist Party has a history of attempting to “clean things up” when large or important groups of foreigners are set to enter the country (see the 2008 Olympics), but the Party seems to run a risk of undercutting itself by publicly increasing the persecution of Christians in Zhejiang.
7/25/2016 Hangzhou, China (Christian Today) – The Global Times, a tabloid run by the ruling Communist party, said large-scale religious meetings had been blocked “to create a safe environment for the meeting”.
The US-backed Radio Free Asia reported that the city’s unofficial churches had also been told to stop meeting. “They have been forcing house churches not to meet ahead of the G20 summit,” said Zhang Mingxuan, the president of China’s House Church Alliance.
But there is suspicion this move has more to do with China’s targeted crackdown on churches in the Zhejiang than with the world leaders’ arrival.
“I cannot understand why they have done this… Worshipping God has nothing to do with the G20 summit,” said Li Guisheng, a Christian human rights lawyer, who added the move had no basis in Chinese law.