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01/19/2021 China (International Christian Concern) – A house church leader in Beijing who has been vocal in his support of persecuted Christians and marginalized petitioners in China was recently denied pension by the government.

Xu Yonghai, an elder at the Divine Love Fellowship of the Beijing House Church, has been denied his state pension, with officials citing a criminal conviction linked to his faith activities.

According to Radio Free Asia, the 60-year-old Christian man was turned away by a Beijing municipal government service center after he went there to claim his first pension payments, which he should have received this month. Instead, he was denied the money, with officials citing his “criminal record.”

Xu stood trial on charges of “leaking state secrets overseas” in 2004 after he campaigned online on behalf of jailed Chinese Christians, and has repeatedly been placed under shorter-term detention by police in the years since.

“What am I supposed to do now? I don’t have any money to live on, nor to get medical treatment if I need it,” he said.

“A lot of my income from employment during [my working] years was given over to the state, to my employer, to contribute to my pension,” Xu added. “That money should be mine, and now they’ve taken it away from me.”

Lawyer Ni Yulan, who also goes to Xu’s church, had similar experience as Xu. Her state pension was also denied by the government.

The Divine Love Fellowship of the Beijing House Church, established in 1996, is mostly composed of petitioners, dissidents, and rights activists from across China. Surveillance and harassment from the government are a regular occurrence for its members.

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected].