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ICC Note: Chinese citizens Meng Lisi and Li Xinheng had been killed this past June while trying to preach Christianity in Balochistan, Pakistan. The Chinese government responded by detaining four preachers from church group in Zhejiang in order to stop them from connecting to overseas missions. Since Xi Jinping took office in 2012, Chinese Christians have been subject to increased scrutiny and harassment and the recent incident in Balochistan added fuel to the fire.

09/5/2017 Pakistan (Dawn) –The killing in recent months of a Chinese man and a woman at the hands of suspected militants in Balochistan has put Beijing in a quandary. That’s because the two were not in Quetta to teach mandarin but to do something with which the Chinese are unlikely to be associated: preach Christianity.

The militant Islamic State (IS) group announced on June 8 that Meng Lisi and Li Xinheng, who were in their mid-twenties, had been killed. The pair had been kidnapped in Quetta on May 24 by gunmen masquerading as policemen.

According to an in-depth report published on Monday by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), “as a self-declared atheist government, news of Chinese Christian missionaries getting into trouble abroad is embarrassing. But at the same time, Beijing needs to show it can protect its citizens as it goes global” by launching several ambitious infrastructure projects overseas.

Despite the dilemma it is facing, the Chinese government has responded to the Balochistan incident by launching a crackdown on a community already under considerable pressure.

The government has detained “at least four preachers from church groups in Zhejiang [province] as part of a targeted blitz against house churches connected to overseas missions, says Bob Fu, whose US-based China Aid group supports Christians in the country”, said the BBC report. “They have been released but are not allowed to continue their activities and are banned from giving media interviews, he says.”

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