Police raid meeting of banned church members in China

The police in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan have raided a gathering of Early Rain Covenant Church members in the provincial capital Chengdu, detaining one of them, media reports said.

Christian writer and translator Xing Hongwei was detained in Chengdu on Sunday after a teahouse gathering of church members was raided by around 30 uniformed officers and plainclothes state security police personnel, church members said, RFA reported.

The group of more than 50 church members was accused of holding an “illegal gathering” at a teahouse in Chengdu’s Wuhou district, and Xing was detained for allegedly “assaulting a police officer”, and is being held in criminal detention, they said.

While the church’s premises were raided leading to its forcible shut down in December 2018, the authorities continued to target the church’s members, amid tightened restrictions on religious groups in recent years under ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping, RFA reported.

A church member surnamed Wang, who was at the teahouse, said the police surrounded the group and took their personal details, including ID card numbers, one by one.

“About 50 brothers and sisters attended the meeting. At around 10.30 a.m., about 22 or 23 uniformed police officers and about eight or nine plainclothes policemen surrounded us.

“They surrounded us in two circles; one circle around our group, and another around the entire [teahouse] courtyard,” Wang said.

A second church member, who declined to be named, said the raid was led by the state security police chief for Wuhou district, who said the Chengdu police department was taking a “zero tolerance” approach to the gathering.

Officers said the church was an “illegal organisation”, which had already been banned, the church member said, RFA reported.

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