Chinese Church Member Martyred, No Word Yet on Trial of Hong Kong Businessman

Wednesday, January 9, 2002

Word has just been received out of China that authorities there recently martyred a member of the South China Church. Voice of the Martyrs sources have learned that the Public Security Bureau (PSB) informed family members of sister Zhong Ju Yu last summer that she was beaten to death while imprisoned in Hubei Province.

"Our sources tell us that the PSB invited family members of sister Zhong to a restaurant in the city of Zhong Xiang," said VOM spokesman Gary Lane. "The family was given the equivalent of $8,000 and threatened with arrest if any family member shared news of the death with the public."

Zhong Ju Yu was arrested during a round up of South China Church members last May. At that time 63 church members were jailed. Another 500 are now being monitored closely by the PSB.

The jailed leader of the 50,000 member South China Church is Pastor Gong Shengliang. Last weekend, the Supreme Court of Hubei province granted his appeal request. If the request had been rejected, Gong would have been executed within days of the denial. He was reportedly sentenced to death last month after a court in Hubei Province declared him guilty of using an "evil cult" to "undermine the enforcement of the law" and of "complicity of rape." Sixteen other members of the South China Church received sentences ranging from two years to life.

VOM sources say another South China Church member-Xuequei Gu-was possibly martyred last fall while imprisoned in Hubei Province. Gu was arrested September 20th 2001 and was last seen being taken away in a prison van on October 10th. Family members haven't heard from him since that day. South China Church leaders say they have received information that Gu was severely beaten and died from injuries sustained during his torture.

"President Bush has asked the State Department to investigate the case of Hong Kong businessman Li Kwong Keung, but he also needs to inquire about the murder of Zhong Ju Yu and the whereabouts of Xuequei Gu," said Lane. "We at VOM hope the president expresses as much concern for these Chinese evangelicals as he has for the Hong Kong businessman, Mr. Li."

VOM has yet to receive word on the fate of Li Kwong Keung. The 38-year old Hong Kong businessman is expected to face trial this week. Mr. Li is a member of evangelical "Church in Hong Kong," known elsewhere as the "Little Flock," said to be the fastest growing church in China, with 500,000 members.

In May 2001, Mr. Li was one of a group of three arrested by the Chinese authorities for allegedly "using an evil cult to undermine law enforcement." It is alleged they were caught smuggling more than 30,000 Bibles into China. If convicted, Li faces a death sentence.

While these Bibles were similar to the government-approved version, the PSB reportedly objected to them because the commentary and notes in the Bibles had not received government approval.

VOM is actively involved in printing Bibles and other Christian literature for distribution in China. VOM also provides support to pastors, their families and others who are persecuted for their faith in China.