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ICC Note: Sichuan pastor Wang Yi has been banned from attending a Christian training conference in Hong Kong. The government agents intercepted and detained Mr. Wang as he was going through customs. The officials were unable to provide any documentation that would ban the pastor from attending the conference and have instead explained that the decision to detain him came from the top-level officials.

09/12/2017 China (China Aid) – Chinese authorities barred a pastor from traveling to Hong Kong to attend a Christian training conference today, echoing a growing trend that keeps church leaders from participating in overseas religious meetings.

At 6:00 a.m. on Sept. 12, Wang Yi, a pastor of Autumn Rain Blessing Church, and Jiang Rong, a pastor’s wife, set out from Chengdu, Sichuan, to attend the Three-Fold Vision Training Conference, a Christian training session in Hong Kong. Police followed them, and, at 7:00 a.m., numerous government personnel intercepted Wang at customs. Agents from a governmental sub-bureau in Qingyang District took him to the Dongpo Police Station, where he was detained for one hour and returned home.

During his time in custody, he asked the officials to provide a document explaining their decision to disallow him from attending the conference. They replied that they didn’t have anything in writing, since this command came from top-level officials. They also could not tell him how long his ban on traveling to Hong Kong would persist.

Jiang, however, has already arrived in Hong Kong, which is taking place this week. Wang submitted a letter dated Sept. 12 to be read at the conference.

In 2015, the conference boasted more than 1,800 participants, even though officials prevented more than 100 Christians from attending that year.

Prohibitions on Chinese Christians attending religious conferences abroad are becoming more frequent, triggered by the Communist Party’s fear that other nations are using non-Chinese belief systems to infiltrate the country. Revisions to China’s Regulations on Religious Affairs, expected to take effect in February, emphasize the country’s intent to continue preventing its citizens from traveling abroad to receive theological training.

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