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ICC Note: On February 11, local authorities in Guizhou province auctioned off three sites of Huoshi Church, the largest house church in Guiyang. They sold the properties to a state-owned enterprise. Authorities claimed the church’s pastors had taken “illegal income” and the sale was necessary to cover the fine. (The church stated the “illegal income” was its normal church offering.) The pastors were informed the day of the auction and believe the government’s motive was financial gain.

02/17/2018 China (China Aid) – Authorities forcibly sold three sites of the largest house church in the capital China’s southern Guizhou province Sunday, only informing the owners on the day of the auction.

On Feb. 11, Su Tianfu, pastor of Huoshi Church, the largest house church in Guiyang, Guizhou, received a notice from the Baiyun District Court, saying that the Nanming District Religious Affairs Bureau had demanded that he fulfill his obligation to pay a fine of more than 7 million yuan. Su, along with imprisoned Huoshi Church Pastor Yang Hua, were first notified of the fine last May, which authorities claimed they incurred because they took that amount in “illegal income.” The pastors, however, maintained that the money had been freely donated by the church’s congregation and only used on church expenses. They appealed several times until the court handed them a definitive verdict, making the fine mandatory.

Authorities hired an assessment company on Jan. 23, and the organization ruled that the church’s total property, including the items inside it, were worth 5.36 million yuan. The court subsequently granted the company permission to auction the church and its property, with the final sale going to the “state-owned enterprise” Nanming Investment Group for 5.12 million yuan on Feb. 11.

In an interview on the same day, Su said, “This afternoon, court personnel, policemen, and community workers knocked on my door and gave me the ruling regarding the [three sites]. To me, the ruling is actually a secret auction … The owners of this property are Liang Xuewu, myself, and Zhang Xiuhong … They punished me and auctioned property that also belonged to the other two, so they filed an objection.”

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