China Arrests House Church Leader and Writer

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Voice of the Martyrs urges prayers amid concern about crack-down

By: Stefan J. Bos
Special Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

BEIJING, CHINA (ANS) -- The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) urged prayers for a jailed Christian Internet writer Zhang Shengqi and other Christian contacts who were arrested amid a crackdown against house churches across China, ASSIST News Service (ANS) monitored Tuesday, Dec. 30.

VOM, a leading Christian human rights watchdog, said "10 Chinese Public Security Bureau (PSB) officers raided the house" last month of the writer's seriously ill fiancé Ye Jifei in the province of Jilin on the North Korean border.

"She faced constant interrogation for more than 24 hours," after being taken into custody, VOM said.

"Although she was released due to serious illness, the next morning she was arrested again and interrogated about any connection between her (and) Zhang Shengqi" as well as fellow believer Liu Fenggang who is imprisoned on charges of "leaking national secrets."


The Internet writer was expected to be charged with the same alleged crime. "Pray God will comfort Zhang"s family with His peace that passes all understanding," VOM said in a newsletter obtained by ANS.

"Pray Jesus presence will strengthen Zhang as he undoubtedly faces severe interrogation. Pray for (Public Security Bureau) officials to see the light of Christ breaking into their spiritual darkness," it added.

VOM also expressed concern about the continuing crackdown by Chinese authorities "on the ever-growing house church movement," including the recent arrests of Xu Yonghai, Liu Fenggang, and Zhang Shengqi, with whom it had close contacts.


Two of them, Brother Xu and Brother Liu from Beijing, have reportedly been transported from the Chinese capital to Hangzhou where they are being held in custody on suspicion of what the government sees as illegal Christian activity.

They have been arrested many times and have spent time in labor camps for their stand against communist intrusion into their right to religious freedom, human rights watchdogs say.

VOM said local Christians are only taking advantage of the government's declared policy of religious freedom, meeting in homes to worship God and to proclaim the gospel message.


"It is distressing that under the Chinese legal system they can be held for months before being formally charged or brought to trial," Mission Network News, a Christian broadcaster, quoted VOM as saying.

VOM's Hong Kong office urged Christians everywhere to pray urgently as the Chinese officials "continue arrests and repression of believers in the house churches."

In addition a dozen of churches have been destroyed in Zhejiang Province, VOM claimed.


Analysts have linked the crack-down to concern among Communist authorities about the growing number of Christians in China.

Former Time magazine correspondent David Aikman, who wrote the new book "Jesus in Beijing " points out that China's current population of about 1.3 billion, includes around 70 million Protestants and roughly 12 million Catholics.

In 1949, when China had a population of about 500 million, 4 million were Christians. "That is a 20-fold increase in Christians, but the population increased only 1.5 times," he told The Washington Times, a conservative newspaper, Saturday, Dec. 27.

"It is plausible that in 30 years, 20 [percent] or 30 percent of the population will become believers. That is a magic tipping point because it means that important positions within the government are held by Christians. The case that I am making is that China is going to be Christianized if that trend continues," he said.