By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspndent BosNewsLife
BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife) -- Chinese authorities have expelled dozens of foreign Christian workers, including Americans, and closed down several Christian owned companies as part of an effort to end the spread of Christianity in several areas, including in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region investigators and legal documents confirmed Wednesday, October 10.
At least "50 foreign Christian workers accused of being involved in illegal religious activities in Xinjiang have been have been expelled or deported in the past six months," said China Aid Association (CAA) a well-informed religious rights group with close contacts with house churches and officials. "Sources inside the Chinese government informed CAA that the Chinese government launched a massive expulsion campaign of foreign Christians, encoded Typhoon No. 5, in February 2007," the group told BosNewsLife.
"This campaign is believed to be part of the anti-infiltration effort to prevent foreign Christians from engaging in mission activities before [and during] the Beijing Olympics next year," CAA explained. Other sources, including Christian rights group Open Door, earlier told BosNewsLife that such a campaign was underway, citing house church Christians.
Among those expelled by Chinese authorities are at least two American businessmen working in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region who allegedly were involved in "preaching Christianity among people of Uyghur nationality, distributing religious propaganda materials, and converting people into Christians." The conduct "seriously violated" local laws, statutes, and related regulations, according to legal documents obtained by BosNewsLife. The names of the businessmen were not released.
In addition, since September, licenses of at least two Christian owned companies in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region were revoked because of their alleged involvement in Christian activities, BosNewsLife learned.
The Luofu Branch of Xinjiang Pacific Agricultural Resources Development Company Ltd. received a notification on September 20, 2007 from the Bureau of Administration of Industry and Commerce of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region saying the firm's license had been revokes as it was "involving in serious illegal conduct of illegally spreading Christianity." It added that the firm was "engaging in infiltration activities, and endangering the security of the state, social, and political stability."
Another company, Xinjiang Jiaerhao Foodstuff Company Lrd., owned by former Muslim Alimujiang Yimiti was also ordered to shut down by Kashi Municipal Bureau for Ethnic Religious Affairs on September 13, 2007, according to the documents.
In a Confirmation Notification on Alimujiang Yimiti's the local 'Kashi Municipal Bureau for Ethnic Religious Affairs' accused him of "having been engaging in illegal religious infiltration activities in Kashi region in the name of doing company business and preaching Christianity among people of Uyghur ethnicity." He allegedly distributed "religious propaganda materials and converted people to Christianity." His conduct "has seriously violated the following laws, statutes, and relevant stipulations," the authorities said.
It was believed that at least hundreds of families may be impacted by the closures of the companies in the huge, but for Chinese standards sparsely populated area. "To shut down legitimate businesses based on religious affiliation is another form of religious persecution in China , Bob Fu, a former house church leader and president of CAA told BosNewsLife. "It will shake the confidence of foreign investors to China in the long run."
Chinese officials have denied human rights abuses and say they only crackdown on those violating regulations. They also point out that Christians are free to worship in the official, Communist government-backed churches. (With BosNewsLife Research and reporting from China).
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