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01/10/2019 China (International Christian Concern) – According to recent documents issued in China’s northern Shanxi province and central Henan province, China is now establishing ‘church-free zones’ near schools while asking local churches to share lists of youth members.

Bitter Winter Magazine reports that a document entitled Implementation Plan on the Special Governance of Private Christian Gathering Sites, which was issued by the Bureau of Ethnic and Religious Affairs of a city in the northern Shanxi Province, calls for the “centralized remediation” of religious meeting venues near colleges and universities (remediation implying to remove the unwanted churches).

Another document, entitled Key Tasks of Phase Three and Division of Labor of Units Directly Under the County Government, issued by the Religious Affairs Bureau of a county in the central Henan Province, stipulates: “All private Christian gathering sites around universities and colleges, as well as on-campus activity sites, are to be shut down in accordance with the law. Criticism and (re)education of participating teachers and students is to be carried out by the school authorities.”

A state-sanctioned Three-Self Church in Henan has also faced closures due to proximity to schools. A “responsibility statement”, issued by the authorities of a county in Henan, states: “This meeting place is an approved site, but because it was too close to a school, it was closed down in August 2018.” Government officials responsible for this matter have promised that “there will be no reversal of the decision in the future.”

Religious Affairs Bureau personnel demanded another Three-Self church facility in Fujian province to shut down, due to its proximity to a university. The church was also asked to provide a list of university students who attend gatherings. Believers are concerned that these young worshippers might be subject to threats from the government.

Communist China’s fear of religion has reached its new height in the past few months, resulting in the intensified crackdown against Christians and Uyghur Muslims alike. It is safe to predict that Beijing will continue to implement the revised religious regulations and use them to persecute people of faith.

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