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ICC Note: Xia Baolong, former Zhejiang provincial party committee secretary, is behind the cross removal campaign that removed thousands of crosses in Zhejiang. He received his double promotion as secretary-general at the 13th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference on March 14 in Beijing, a move that is seen as a setback for China’s religious freedom.

03/22/2018 China (UCA News) – The man believed to be the key person leading cross removals in Zhejiang province has been promoted in what observers regard as a setback for religious freedom in China.

Xia Baolong has been elected as vice-chairman and secretary-general of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CCPPC).

From 2002 to 2007, when President Xi Jinping was in charge of Zhejiang, Xia was Xi’s trustworthy subordinate and a member of “Xi’s Troop” (Xi Jia Jun).

After being appointed as Zhejiang provincial party committee secretary in 2013, Xia was thought to be behind the forcible removal of 1,700 crosses from Catholic and Protestant churches and church demolitions that triggered bloodshed.

It had been rumored that Xia would be promoted to a more important post in Beijing, but in April 2017 he was instead transferred to the insignificant post of deputy director of the environment and resources protection committee under the National People’s Congress.

As doubts grew about the relationship between Xi and Xia, the latter received his double promotion at the 13th CPPCC on March 14 in Beijing. The position of secretary-general is commonly known as the “CPPCC’s steward” and carries real power.

Sang Pu, a regime critic in Hong Kong, told that Xia’s promotion indicates that suppression of Christianity by the Communist Party and Xi will continue.

“After Xia was transferred to an idle post, it was speculated that forcible cross removal would stop in Zhejiang. However, cross removal never stopped in the province and other provinces, which reflects there is no change in nature from the central government to the local authorities on the suppression of religions,”Sang said.

To analyze whether religious persecution is relaxing, one should not just look at officials who directly handle suppression but also at the central government to see if it has restrained its oppression, he said.

“The central government has never changed its entire policy, its hatred of religions and its mentality to eliminate religions,” Sang said.

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