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ICC Note: Thanks to increasing government crackdown on churches in China, many Chinese churches are now cautious about who they let in to their buildings during service, and members of the churches often have to break into smaller groups to avoid inspection.  

07/26/2018 China (World Watch Monitor) –Churches in China are becoming more careful over who they let in to their buildings, as government pressure increases following the implementation of new religious regulations earlier this year.

Local authorities have been pressured to take action. In Guangzhou, for example, the capital of the southern province Guangdong, a local source told World Watch Monitor the authorities are “trying to stir up the larger more influential churches to see what reaction they will get from the people”.

As a result “churches have become more careful in who they allow in”, the source said. “Newcomers are first questioned by the pastor.”

The government is especially wary of “high profile” churches that have access to international networks, draw crowds of people and are very active.

“Churches that hold meetings in commercial buildings are targeted,” the source said. “The authorities close church venues and more landlords refuse to continue rental contracts with churches. Hence, these local churches are forced to return to house meetings.”

Lacking a place to meet, many churches have split into smaller groups. A girl in the Panyu district of Guangzhou told World Watch Monitor that she now attends two different meetings – one small and one larger – which she visits on alternate weeks to make it more difficult for the government to keep track of her movements.

Ongoing harassment

Two weeks ago, the Bible Reformed Church in Guangzhou was forced to stop its meeting for a third time in a month following a police raid, during which a number of Christians were arrested for questioning.

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For interviews with Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org