Friday, April 15, 2011

China Fears Spreading Protests and Cracks Down on Christians

Apparently our friends in Communist China are worried about the protests spreading in the Middle East. Last Sunday Beijing police detained dozens of worshippers from an unapproved Christian church who were trying to hold services in a public space after they were evicted from their usual place of worship.

Members of the unregistered Shouwang church were told to gather at an open-air venue for Sunday morning services, but Chinese police, apparently alerted to their plans, taped off the area and took away people who showed up to take part. -China's Communist government allows worship only in state-approved churches, but many Christians belong to unregistered congregations. Such "house churches" are subjected to varying degrees of harassment by authorities. More than 60 million Christians are believed to worship in China's independent churches, compared with about 20 million who worship in the state church.

About 200 people were taken away and were being held at a local school. Their cellphones were confiscated. An AP videographer saw about a dozen people escorted by police onto an empty city bus and driven away.

The pastor, Yuan Ling, said by telephone that he was unable to go to the venue because police had put him under house arrest Saturday night. Yuan said he knew of at least six other church members who were also under house arrest.

Chinese authorities have been on high alert for large public gatherings in the wake of “anonymous online calls” for anti-government protests modeled on demonstrations in the Middle East and North Africa. No major protests have occurred in China following the calls, but the security crackdown they sparked has resulted in the arrest or detention of dozens of public interest lawyers, writers, intellectuals and activists.

Ai Weiwei, an internationally known avant-garde artist who is also an outspoken government critic, became the highest-profile person targeted in the sweep when he was apparently detained at a Beijing airport a week ago.

Live Long and Prosper....

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