During 1994-95, Chinese government and Communist Party officials, struggling to contain political and social unrest and to promote the economic development that would secure party allegiance, broadened the drive to eliminate all expression of dissent.[1] In the last two years, the Chinese government has issued new directives requiring all congregations to register with religious authorities, stepped up pressure on evangelists, and tightened control on contact with foreigners and distribution of religious materials. Those suspected of linking religion to political activity have been singled out for the harshest treatment.

In this report, Human Rights Watch/Asia focuses on the persistent crackdown against religious expression of Catholics and Protestants. We note, however, that repression in China is directed against all religions, the five that are officially recognized (Buddhism, Daoism, Islam. Catholicism, and Protestantism) and all allegedly aberrant and superstitious sects. In Tibet, for example, the Chinese government has violated international standards of religious freedom by insisting on its own choice for the new Panchen Lama, the second most important religious authority for Tibetan Buddhists.[2]

The extensive crackdown on Catholics and Protestants since 1994 came in response to the destabilizing effects of two sets of challenges: economic change that introduced widespread unemployment, income inequality, and double-digit inflation during a period when the socialist safety net was being partially withdrawn; and rampant corruption coupled with a succession battle that threatened the legitimacy and power of China's rulers. Jiang Zemin, China's president and secretary-general of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), in his September 1995 speech to the Fifth Plenum of the Central Committee, explicitly acknowledged the problems. In conjunction with the committee's release of a fifteen-year blueprint for China's economic and social development, Jiang listed "reform, development and stability" as the first of twelve "major relationships"[3] which the party would have to "manage." Stability," he said, "is the premise for development and reform, and development and reform require a stable political and social environment." He went on to conclude with a reference to an advanced socialist "spiritual civilization," stating that "under no circumstance should temporary economic growth be achieved at the expense of culture and ideological progress."

On both counts Chinese leaders believe that religious adherents, particularly those who express their convictions outside the aegis of central control in so-called unofficial churches, bear watching. Any ideology other than communism and any authority outside the Chinese government is viewed as a threat to security of the Chinese state in its present form. But, taking no chances, Chinese lay administrators have also tightened control over "official" or "open" churches.

The history of religious activity in China, and that of "western" religions in particular, reinforces the official view that "hostile elements from abroad," in conjunction with Chinese dissidents, intend to use religion to destabilize China, then overthrow its legitimate government. The role of the Catholic Church in ousting communist authority in Eastern Europe, coming as it did in 1989, the year of the uprising in Beijing, bolstered such a perception, as did the coupling of religion — Buddhism and Islam respectively — with independence movements in Tibet on China's southwestern borders and in Xinjiang in the far northwest. But three new phenomena have increased official unease: the growing link between pro-democracy dissidents and labor activists on one hand, and church membership on the other; the exponential growth in Protestant church adherents; and the slippage in popularity of the Chinese Communist Party, especially in rural areas and even among Communist Party members.[4] In January 1995, the CCP circulated a document to party organizations at the provincial level ordering expulsion for party members belonging to religious organizations, open or clandestine.[5]

On April 4, 1994, the semi-official Hong Kong China News Agency warned against the proliferation of religious believers. Articles in the Religious Work Bulletin, an internal publication of the government's Religious Affairs Bureau (RAB), called for greater control over religious affairs, including bans on the building of new religious venues and on the construction of new Buddhist statues in outdoor arenas. The latter, the bulletin said, could lead to "social chaos." On May 25, the deputy director of the RAB criticized religion for "spawning chaos" and insisted that it be funded by the state to ensure the "integrating [of] the groups into society."[6] An internal document, reportedly specifying six problems requiring central government attention, cited the rapid spread of both Christianity and unregistered house churches and also made reference to "hostile overseas forces."[7]

Further evidence of the government's extreme suppression of foreign influence in religious matters was provided by its specific admonition to delegates to the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women and the parallel 1995 NGO (Nongovernmental) Forum on Women, held in Beijing from August 30-September 15, 1995, not to bring religious materials into China other than those they personally required for worship.

The pattern of the crackdown lends credence to the thesis that the new phenomena, more rapid growth in church than in party membership and new ties among different dissident constituencies, have accounted for the escalating crackdown. From early 1994 through November 1995, repetitive instances of detentions, physical abuse, and exorbitant fines, followed by releases[8] tended to occur in areas where foreigners actively proselytized and trained local lay leaders in doctrine and evangelical methodology. They also occurred where evidence of indigenous networks of unofficial churches surfaced or where native evangelists were especially active. "Underground" or "house"[9] church members who challenged party and government authority through public worship were targeted. Churches, official or unofficial, that attracted too much attention through their size or wealth or prestige, or through the caliber of their leaders, were subject to repression. Also victimized were cohesive religious communities which competed successfully against a party or government institution for the loyalty of the local populace.[10] Finally, officials often exploited tensions between church leaders to limit a congregation's autonomy.


To the Government of the People's Republic of China:

-Human Rights Watch/Asia calls on the Chinese government to release all those held for participation in religious activities outside the aegis of official churches, including those held or convicted of violating the laws on counterrevolution or the 1993 State Security Law.

-Human Rights Watch/Asia calls on the Chinese government to cease leveling criminal charges against those who participate in religious activities outside the aegis of the official churches, or sentencing them administratively to "re-education through labor" terms.

-Human Rights Watch/Asia calls on the Chinese government to immediately rescind all official restrictions on religious activity, including regulations and decrees controlling religious instruction of those under eighteen years of age and restrictions on publication, distribution, and sale of religious material.

-Human Rights Watch/Asia calls on the Chinese government to cease interfering in seminary education.

-Human Rights Watch/Asia calls on the Chinese government to abolish the registration procedure, used as it is to restrict freedom of religion as guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

-Human Rights Watch/Asia calls on the Chinese government to investigate thoroughly all reported incidents of beatings, ill-treatment, and torture of religious leaders and activists and punish those responsible for abuses.

-Human Rights Watch/Asia urges the Chinese government to extend to Communist Party members the right to believe in and freely practice religion.

To the International Community:

-Human Rights Watch/Asia urges that at the March 1996 session of the U.N. Human Rights Commission, the U.S., the European Union, Japan, and other governments sponsor and vigorously promote a resolution censuring China and specifically calling for an end to religious repression.

-Human Rights Watch/Asia urges that in their bilateral contacts, governments call on China to implement the key recommendations of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance, resulting from his November 1994 visit to Beijing and Lhasa. In particular, governments should urge China to abolish the distinction between "normal" and "abnormal" religious activities in its constitution and religious regulations; to extend the right of religious belief to minors and to set up universities dedicated mainly to religious education.

-Human Rights Watch/Asia urges that the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance consider making a followup visit to China early in 1996, going to the provinces where religious repression is most pronounced, including but not limited to Henan, Hebei, Zhejiang, Anhui, Sichuan, Yunnan, Shaanxi and Shanxi, and insisting on independent access without official oversight or control of his inquiries.

-Human Rights Watch/Asia urges delegations of parliamentarians and foreign ministers and trade delegations to China to make inquiries about specific cases of religious activists still in custody and those detained, ill- treated, and released. They should make inquiries into the police practice of leveling fines against religious adherents before releasing them from detention. Delegation members should also urge the repeal of all official restrictions on free expression of religious belief and practice.


China is an atheist state, notwithstanding the language in Article 36 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China theoretically permitting freedom of belief and prohibiting discrimination on the basis of belief or disbelief. Members of the Chinese Communist Party, for example, cannot be believers. (See Appendix V.) In practice, policy stipulates that religion serve the interests of party and state. Religious practice is to be tolerated only so long as it contributes to socialist modernization, economic growth, and love of the motherland.[11] It is to be completely divorced from the social life of the populace.

This understanding represents a retreat from Cultural Revolution (1966-1977) policy when Chairman Mao Zedong, in an attempt to eradicate all religious belief, proscribed all religious activity and tried to confiscate or destroy all church properties. It also presents a contrast to the relatively liberal 1980s, when religion began to flourish in an atmosphere of loosened restrictions. In part it is a return to the nascent religious policy of the late 1950s and early 1960s, aimed at controlling the beginnings of a religious revival in China. By luring elements outside party ranks to the purposes of the party, and by enticing clandestine believers to practice their religion openly, the government apparently hopes to limit their activities through administrative restraints, thus hastening the demise of religious belief and practice.

The most recent revision of the policy, signaling an important change, came in November 1993 at a meeting of the United Front Work Department, the CCP agency responsible for mobilizing mass support for party policies. President Jiang Zemin informed colleagues that the term "adaptation of religion to socialist society" meant strengthened legal restraints on religion and the reformation of both institutions and doctrines that contradicted socialist theory and practice. It was the first time since 1949 that doctrine was noted to be within the purview of civil authorities.[12]

The two-pronged secular supervisory structure set up in the 1950s by the central Communist Party leadership was not affected by the 1993 shift. Top party leaders still make religious policy. Administration is still the responsibility of the United Front Work Department on the party side and the less important Religious Affairs Bureau on the government side. China's five recognized religions are still monitored by "patriotic" associations (PA) which assist the government and the party in the implementation of policy and act as liaisons between the government/party and the relevant church, congregation, pastor or priest. For Protestantism, the authorized associations are the Three- Self Patriotic Movement and the Chinese Christian Council (CCC), collectively known as the lianghui (dual associations); for Catholics they are the Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA) and the Bishops' Conference. But a provincial, municipal or local Religious Affairs Bureau, if it so chooses, can directly control the affairs of a local church. (See, for example, the diagram in Appendix VIII, "Administrative Structure of the Chinese Protestant Church.") This dual responsibility for local religious affairs bears directly on the central authorities' directive to register all churches, congregations, mosques, temples, meeting points, and monasteries. In some locales, so long as underground congregations remained small and discreet, local patriotic associations did not pressure them to register. When it became possible to bypass a PA and even disclose its negligence, the PA, fearing a loss of power if it did not maintain a hard line, exposed previously "safe" congregations. The RAB then cracked down on the unmasked congregants.

Several specific administrative policies, (not codified), and the second clause of the constitution's Article 36 further the Chinese government's stated goal of adaptation. They also provide the rationale for cracking down on religious dissidents. State protection, according to the constitution, extends only to "normal" religious activities, and religion cannot be used to "disrupt social order, impair the health of citizens or interfere with the educational policy of the state."

Of the relevant administrative policies, two stand out: the "three-self" and the "three-fix." The former, by requiring that all churches, without exception, be totally independent of foreign influence, that they be self- administrating, self-supporting, and self-propagating, compels the Vatican to cede certain prerogatives, particularly the choice of bishops, to Chinese authorities. It gives Chinese Catholics the Hobson's choice between loyalty to the Vatican, which brings Chinese repression, and loyalty to the Chinese Catholic Church, which separates Chinese Catholics from their co-religionists in the universal church. For Protestants, the "three-self" requires that they abjure support from foreign missionary organizations; and that they give up theoretical, doctrinal, and liturgical differences to join a Chinese "post-denominational Christian church." Theoretically, such differences should have no meaning in the context of socialist solidarity.

The "three-fix" policy requires that all congregations meet at a fixed location, that they have a fixed and professional religious leader, and that they confine their activities to a fixed geographical sphere. For non-mainstream Protestant groups, which rely on lay leaders and which recruit members through evangelical preaching, the regulation stymies growth, as it is meant to, and permits local religious personnel to keep local would-be proselytizers in check more easily.


The first concrete evidence of the intensified religious crackdown came on January 31, 1994 when Premier Li Peng signed two sets of religious regulations, the first time, in fact, that a Chinese premier signed a religious document. No.145 On the Management of Places for Religious Activities and No.144 On the Management of Religious Activities of Foreigners Within Chinese Borders represented first attempts by the central governing body to codify religious restrictions; to provide a legal basis or license for local cadres to crack down on a wide assortment of religious activities; to supply models for codifying local and provincial regulations, which are frequently more stringent than the originals[13]; and to further empower the Public Security Bureau (PSB), that is the police, to intervene in religious affairs through surveillance, extortion, and arrests. The two new decrees are regulations, not law, and thus are not subject to appeal in the courts. They offer no protection to alleged religious miscreants or to unofficial religious groups. Nevertheless, their promulgation was the first attempt by the central government to move its religious directives beyond either generalized policy statements or strategic and tactical initiatives.[14]

Registration is used to restrict and repress free expression of religious beliefs as guaranteed under Articles 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It is also clear that registration is a technique of political control and, as such, violates Chinese citizens' rights of free association and expression.

The key mechanism for exercising government control over religious practice and for penalizing congregants who prefer their own worship arrangements is the requirement that all congregations, down to the smallest family gathering, register with the Religious Affairs Bureau (RAB). As noted in Regulation No.145, any and all religious activity outside a registered venue is by definition illegal. Activities practiced under the aegis of registered venues are protected.

There are several reasons why congregations operating clandestinely are reluctant to register. If religious officials reject an application, the surfaced group is forced immediately to shut down. In some places, attempts to register have been denied because local cadres are fearful they will be criticized for registering churches that do not meet the state's criteria. They prefer to play it safe. Obviously such responses have a chilling effect on church groups debating their courses of action. On the other hand, if the attempt to register is successful, the congregation opens itself to constant scrutiny of its personnel choices, religious materials, forms of worship, and topics for sermons.

Should there be any doubt as to the intent of the new regulations, a Jiangsu Province RAB official made it perfectly clear in a statement in the September issue of Tian Feng, the official magazine of the Chinese Christian Church."Registration, he said, would "ensure that every attempt to use religion to instigate illegal activities, and attempts by hostile foreign forces to use religion to conduct espionage activities, will be effectively blocked and receive legal sanctions....All illegal reactionary organizations and meeting places...will absolutely not be given permission to register."

On an audio tape forwarded to Human Rights Watch/Asia in October 1995,[15] a senior leader of a network of house churches in the Zhoukou area of Henan Province reported that churches in the area are refusing to register for the very reasons cited. In addition, the leader said that Protestant families are refusing to fill in forms issued only to believers. The information required, they say, is personal in nature and should be of no concern to government cadres.

The intent of the regulations was first conveyed to provincial and national directors of the Religious Affairs Bureau during a meeting in January 1994. Afterwards, the central authorities convened a ten-day meeting to allow national RAB and United Front Work Department leaders to impress patriotic association leaders with the need to enforce legal restraints on religious practice. As late as August 30, 1995, provincial governments and party committees were still convening meetings to demand that the party's religious policy be "conscientiously, comprehensively, and precisely implemented."[16]

On May 1. 1994, the government went further, promulgating a supplementary set of regulations, Registration Procedures for Religious Activities, which dealt in ambiguous terms with the procedural means for legalizing a religious entity. Despite appearing to rescind criteria for registration which many church groups found intolerable, such as the requirement that a congregation affiliate with a patriotic association, the regulations actually were designed to circumvent the objections while tightening central control. First of all, the regulations provided that all previously registered groups had to reapply. Secondly, in addition to adhering to three-fix principles, religious groups had to show stable memberships and legal sources of income. Furthermore, a government-approved religious affairs administrative commission had to vet all applications, the opinion of the local people's government, patriotic association or watch dog neighborhood committee had to accompany all applications, and patriotic associations had to ensure compliance with the rules. By the end of the year, the RAB had ordered that in 1995 registration would be the paramount task. And toward the end of 1995, it was reported that RAB officials who failed to complete registration of religious venues under their jurisdiction would be denied their standard yearly bonus.[17]

Independence from patriotic association affiliation brought churches some relief, but also gave the government a new motive for repression. The Protestant Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM), in particular, feared competition and loss of its power over local villagers. In many rural communities, older, more conservative members had embittered their constituents by refusing to protect them from government interference and Public Security Bureau excesses. With the new edicts in place, younger churchgoers had, in theory, the opportunity to eschew the TSPM. The government took advantage of the split to enlist TSPM members in the drive to bring unofficial congregations and personnel into line.

Reports have emerged, from all over China, of zealous local cadres anxious to register all unofficial churches. One particularly egregious case occurred on March 12, 1995 in Huoqiu county, Sanyuan village, when Public Security Bureau officers raided an unregistered church and detained the whole congregation, beating those who resisted arrest, some so severely they sustained internal injuries. Hu Zhuanqi, the church leader, two elders, and two preachers were detained for questioning. Police saved their most intense interrogation for Hu, whom they tried to intimidate into testifying against the others. They not only used a baton to beat his feet, but used scissors to stab his hands and to shave a cross on the top of his head. He was released later that same day. The elders were released the following day and the evangelists on March 26. Fines totaled 900 renminbi (rmb) (US$112).

Police detained two other area house church leaders on March 12, holding them for fifteen days. Then, on March 16, Huoqiu PSB officers ordered local leaders to attend a seminar on law and discipline. When they arrived for "classes," officers informed them they would have to pay 200 rmb each. Those who paid were immediately "excused"; officials lectured the others for two days. By March 27, the PSB police, local government cadres, and CCP officials had put together some 200 workers equipped with trucks and tractors capable of destroying three unregistered house churches. The pretext for the effort was that the structures were in the path of a proposed stretch of National Highway 312 .The churches' entire contents were confiscated. Following the incident, more than 2,000 local Protestants sent a letter of appeal to the president of the Chinese Christian Council, in which they reported the crackdown on "illegal preaching," forced study sessions, illegal entry of PSB officers into their homes, and confiscation of personal belongings including private letters.

On May 12, 1994, the Chinese government acquired a more potent weapon in its fight to curtail unregulated religious practice. Several of the eighteen new articles appended by the National People's Congress, China's legislature, to the January 1987 Regulations Governing Public Order Offenses stipulate that criminal charges can be brought against religious adherents for "carrying out activities under the name of a social organization without registration," for "organizing activities of superstitious sects and secret societies to disrupt public order," and for "disturbing social order" and "damaging public health." None of the putatively criminal acts are defined.

A meeting of Religious Affairs Bureau officers also took place in May during which they explored means for tracking and exchanging information on religious activities. Several steps had already been taken, including outfitting local offices with fax machines to facilitate communication with Beijing and with each other. Earlier, the RAB set up an Information Synthesis Department[18] (see below, Li Tianen).

By July, the Religious Affairs Bureau had a new head, Ye Xiaowen, who had no formal religious training but rather a strong reputation as an atheist. In a 1994 article published in a Nanjing University journal, he accused the West of using ethnic and religious issues to attack China.[19]

On August 23, the party's Central Committee issued "Essentials for Implementing Patriotic Education." At a November 1994 seminar in Beijing, the document came in for study as national religious leaders took the floor to remind participants that all religious organizations must work to strengthen greater love for China among their adherents.[20]

The RAB also tightened control over the religious media. In June, it published the first volume of a new quarterly, Religion in China. According to bureau officials, the magazine has two goals, promotion of China's official religious policies and discrediting overseas anti-Chinese religious publications. Earlier, in February, the bureau set up its own religious publishing house and curtailed the number of state-owned presses permitted to print religious materials.

Regulations Aimed at Foreigners

The second set of central government regulations, No.144 On the Management of Foreigners, limits the role of those outsiders, including overseas Chinese, who hope to join in worship with mainland co-religionists. Not only do outsiders need official permission to participate in religious services; the regulations forbid any kind of proselytizing or leadership training by foreigners. Even sermonizing requires explicit approval. Unofficial church attendance, by definition, is, of course, illegal. Without spelling out the particulars, the article authorizes the RAB to discipline offending foreigners.[21]


The following cases illustrate varieties of religious practices which have elicited punitive responses from local religious and secular authorities. It is important to note that there is no way of even estimating the number of incidents which result in detention, arrest, a prison term, a fine, a beating, or confiscation of money and personal and productive property. The repetition of the cycle is so common, particularly in some locales in the countryside, that villagers, with good reason, refuse to let outsiders know unless the circumstances are extreme: a long detention, a particularly severe beating, a formal arrest, an administrative sentence, a death. Often cases are reported with the proviso that names be withheld. Many reports are fragmentary; follow-up is difficult if not impossible.

According to Human Rights Watch/Asia sources, if routine cases are reported and publicized, local RAB cadres assume an overseas contact and use the leak as an excuse to escalate the punishment and the fine. One of the reasons for so doing is the lack of opportunity for most cadres appointed to the Religious Affairs Bureau. Pay is low, prestige poor, and opportunities for graft and promotion few. By a hard line approach, cadres try to demonstrate their commitment to the socialist cause and to earn points for promotion. At worse, they may augment their earnings.

Silencing a Charismatic Seminarian

On January 27, 1994, twenty-nine-year-old Huang Fangxin, a native of Bodong village, Boyan township, Yongkang county, Zhejiang Province, the alleged "ringleader of an illegal religious organization," was "apprehended for investigation."[22] On April 6, 1994, the Re-education Through Labor Committee of the Zhejiang People's Government sentenced him without trial to a three-year "re-education through labor" term for disturbing the social order and normal religious life, and for influencing the stability and unity of village life. Between the two events, at a meeting of all churches and meeting points in Yongkang, two RAB officials accused Huang of being a counterrevolutionary and of collaborating with "hostile forces from abroad." It took the police to quell the ensuing uproar.

Huang's "crime" was his evangelical success with young people in his native county and beyond and the phenomenal growth in membership in a once-floundering church. To advance his mission. Huang had gathered around him a core group of some ten young proselytizers, in effect a "gospel team" (fu yin tuan). In the course of the work, many of them were detained, some more than once. A first offense earned a ten-day stay in jail; a second, fifteen days, and so on. On the day of Huang's arrest, for example, the police detained two of his preachers, Chen, from Shangma village, Tongxi township, and Shu, from Qinfeng village, Yongxiang township (first names unknown), for allegedly beating up the Public Security Bureau personnel who had gone to arrest Huang. Chen was released after fifteen days; Shu after twelve. The threat of longer jail stays inhibited them, and other team members as well, from publicizing the detentions.

After his own arrest, Huang was held at Xiliping Nongchang, an agricultural labor camp in Longyou county. He was so severely beaten there that camp officials feared for his life and transferred him to a labor camp near the city of Jinhua where he teaches painting and preaches. According to a Human Rights Watch/Asia source, Huang may have to serve six years instead of three.

Originally a member of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, Huang was sufficiently outstanding to be recommended by the local Yongkang branch for study at the Huadong Seminary in Shanghai. He performed so well there that after graduation in 1989, the president of the Zhejiang Chinese Christian Council recommended him to the prestigious Jinling Union Theological Seminary in Nanjing. He never finished his studies. With half a year to go, he left of his own accord to evangelize at home.[23] Huang had recognized how few young people the local TSPM church attracted, and he set himself the task of converting the young, then sending them out to convert others. With success, came enemies. The chairperson of the county's official church reported Huang's activities to Public Security Bureau officials and asked that they crack down. Huang, who had six months to finish his studies, was ordered back to Nanjing. He refused to go, preferring to continue his work with the young.

On March 25, 1993, the Yongkang lianghui circulated Dispatch No.13, "An Open Letter to all Churches in the Municipality,"[24] which distorted Huang's beliefs and confounded them with those of an illiterate self-styled itinerant evangelist, Huang Yanbiao, who preached the "second coming," anathema to the Three-Self. Given the contents of the open letter, Huang Fangxin had no choice but to resign from the Three-Self.

Official condemnation of Huang began more than four months before his arrest. On September 3, 1993, the National Minorities and Religious Affairs Bureau of the Yongkang People's Government sent a "Circular Concerning Resolutely Prohibiting Free-Style Evangelists" to all churches in the county accusing Huang and his gospel team of:

spread[ing] anti-government, anti-Three-Self reactionary speeches...which have seriously violated the Constitution [of the People's Republic of China] and the law, and have gone against the basic principle of three-self. They (Huang and his team) have created confusion among Christians in our community, affected the normal religious activities of Christianity and brought in de-stabilizing factors to the reform and opening of our municipality.[25]

The circular went on to accuse "individuals" of spreading "anti-party, anti-socialist, and anti-Three-Self mud- the name of preaching the gospel." Its authors demanded that no church receive Huang and his gospel team.

From the issuance of the circular until his arrest, whenever Huang entered a church the TSPM actively tried to prevent him from preaching. Finally, two days after his arrest, the Municipal People's Government issued a second circular."Concerning the Banning of the `Gospel Team' According to Law."[26]

Short-term arbitrary detentions in Yongkang have continued, sometimes in the guise of "study classes," for which there is a 24 rmb (approximately US $3) charge. Although most such classes last only a day or two, a fifteen- day detention could cost US $45, an exorbitant amount by Chinese rural standards. According to a Human Rights Watch/Asia source, if those summoned to study sessions refuse to listen to religious officials, the police are called. These officers then take over the instruction, informing detainees they must "abide by the law." If they reply that they are already "lawful citizens," they are usually "slapped around," "hit on the face and mouth," but not badly beaten. Detainees are not released until they submit written "confessions" and promise to refrain from further "illegal" activities. Sometimes they are fined.

On July 17, 1994, Public Security Bureau officers seized more than ten members of Huang's "gospel team" for organizing a summer Bible school for local youngsters. According to religious decrees, no one under the age of eighteen "may be compelled and seduced to study the Bible." According to RAB officials, attendance at the Bible school "hampered the health of children physically and mentally." Three detainees, including Ying Yuanyong, were held ten days; Yan Zhenjin, twenty, was held for fifteen days. A September 29, 1994 ban on all "illegal" meetings remains in force at this writing; and Huang's church is under constant surveillance.

Curtailing Evangelical Networks

Wenzhou, in southern Zhejiang Province, usually referred to as the Jerusalem of China because city officials there are tolerant of a variety of religious activities, has the largest concentration of Protestants in the country. Renewed pressure on unofficial churches in the area began on March 31, 1995 when a senior house church leader in his late fifties was detained in nearby Rui'an county. He reportedly had been repeatedly warned to cease preaching all over the county, and to stop inviting foreign personnel to his church without asking official permission. In addition, Three-Self officials charged him with receiving unauthorized foreign funds. Before he was released in mid- August, the leader, who prefers that his name not be used, was required to pay several hundred rmb for food and "accommodations."

On February 7, 1995, 500-600 Protestants from Jiangsu Province and from Wenzhou met in Huai'an in Jiangsu. After local TSPM officials notified the PSB, officers beat up the leaders, reserving the more severe beatings as well as the heavy fines for the key figures. Security officers arrested five men and four women, four of whom came from Huai'an. The local Protestants were held only a day. The five from Wenzhou were held until March 6 so police could repeatedly interrogate them about their connections to other groups in China and to overseas Protestants. One of them was seriously injured during the beatings. Fines were heavy, the leader, who has asked that his name not be used, had to pay 5,000 rmb (US$620) for his release and another 5,000 rmb when he returned home. To curtail his itinerant preaching, he was directed to report to the local police station once a week. By May, the order had been lifted. The four others paid fines totaling 16,000 rmb. In this case, as in others when fines are heavy, the necessary funds come from local constituents.

Figures on the number of Protestants in China vary from an improbable one hundred million to just under thirty million. Henan Province is said to have the greatest number, conservatively some 4.6 million, and the third- highest concentration in the country. Many of the local house churches in the province, mostly in rural communities, rely on each other for training and for a sense of moral connectedness despite their structural autonomy. Government authorities would rather they remained separate.

Fangcheng county, in Henan, dubbed China's "evangelical center," first came to media attention in February 1994, when overseas evangelists were expelled after meeting with local Protestants.[27] Its flourishing revivalist spirit and its support of indigenous church networks provide good sources of revenue for local cadres. Since 1992, local evangelists have designated the first month of the lunar calendar "gospel month" and left home to proselytize. In the 1995 campaign, some 1,000 women and men organized into "gospel teams" fanned out over the country. Arrest warrants for the better known team members followed. As late as May, at least one-third of the approximately 140 seized during "gospel month" were still in detention. One member, whose name has been publicly reported. was arrested in mid-January shortly after he returned from Sichuan Province. Chin Shing Shen [sic], probably Qin Xingshen, a forty-five-year-old evangelist, was picked up for itinerant preaching after Sichuan authorities reported his activities to Fangcheng security forces. As of July 3, 1995, he had neither been freed nor sentenced.

Fangcheng personnel were involved in an incident on April 13, 1995 in Changzhi, Shanxi Province. Police raided a house church meeting and arrested all those present, including one Protestant from Taiwan who was fined and released a few days later. Security officials reportedly became suspicious of him when he entered Shanghai on April 4 carrying an undeclared photocopier. He was required to surrender the machine to customs officials. Alerted security officers tailed him to Shanxi. Six other worshipers were detained longer: Li Tianen, a well-known house church leader from Shanghai, instrumental in the growth of the religious community in Fangcheng; Chen Qunying, a retired surgeon from Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province; Shi Yazhong; and three unnamed local leaders. A week after the arrests, Chen's home was searched through the joint efforts of public security officers from Zhejiang and Shanxi. By May 1, police officials, alarmed by his severe diabetes and his heart condition, permitted him to return home. As of May 12, he remained under house arrest. Fellow inmates reportedly beat Chen during his two weeks in detention.[28] Li was released on May 14. In September 1995, Public Security Bureau officers jailed six other Shanxi Province Protestants including church leader Wang Xiaoguang. They had traveled to the home of a house church leader in Fangcheng to attend a private gathering.

Church growth in the Zhoukou area of Henan has been so rapid that many Christians who might have wished to, have had no Three-Self church to attend. As a result, house churches have proliferated and with them an intensified crackdown. In the first ten months of 1995, police in the area took more than 200 Protestants into custody. Three leaders, arrested from their homes or workplaces in June,[29] were administratively sentenced to three-year terms on August 14 for organizing illegal worship activities and plotting with foreign religious groups to overthrow the Communist Party. Two women, Xu Qiying and Wang Xiuling, were sent to Zhengzhou Women's Labor Reform Center, Third Brigade; and Wang Changqing, released less than ten days before his re-arrest, was sent to Xuchang Labor Reform Center for a third "re-education through labor" term.[30] As of August 31, three others, Liu Tingen, Yang Peiyang, and Zhang Zijing, were still in the Huiyang Detention Center, threatened with prison terms if they failed to pay fines. All six were accused of belonging to the Wholistic sect and of scheming to overthrow the government Sixty-eight people in all were arrested during the raid. Although the situation had quieted by September, police were still picking up house church members and warning them to start attending a Three-Self church.

Local house church members anticipated the crackdown when, on June 11, the Xihua County People's Government, which is an administrative division of Zhoukou, issued a public notice pointing out the illegality of Protestant activities in the area and alleging that local practitioners belong to one of three illegal sects — the Shouters,[31] the Wholistic sect, or the Disciple sect. Local Protestants deny the associations, alleging that the authorities often label them cultists rather than Protestants and include in the charges against them rhetoric about their use of unseemly and superstitious activities. The June 11 notice is one example of such misrepresentation:

[T]hey engaged in unlawful activities, rumor mongering, cheating people and disrupting production. In the name of their exorcism and healing, they swindled people out of their money, sullied our women, put people's lives and property in danger, disrupted family planning and interfered with the country's education work.[32]

Other counties in the area posted similar notices. In Tiankou, the notice admonished "sect" members to turn themselves in within three days for "study classes" or risk 500 rmb fines, five times the average monthly family income.

The evangelical network in the Zhoukou area also has links outside mainland China. During a November 19, 1994 raid which netted 152 church leaders including many from other Henan locales and from Shanxi and Shaanxi provinces, a Taiwanese preacher who was conducting a Bible training session was one of those initially detained. As of January 1995, all but ten of the arrested had been released. As of July, it became known that one preacher, Ren Ping, a woman in her early forties, was sentenced to a three-year "re-education through labor" term. She is held at Zhengzhou Shibalihe Women's Prison. The Taiwanese leader was held for five days, then ordered out of the mainland. All those released paid fines, some running as high as 1,000 renminbi. Local officials told the detainees that the fines were to cover accommodation and food costs but issued no receipts for the monies collected.

The fact that religious sects are breaking out of local districts and spreading across provincial borders is especially alarming to authorities. Central Anhui Province has been the scene of a major police crackdown on such sects since June 1995. As in Henan, rural religious groups are targeted. In Yingshang county, police equipped with electric batons conducted a series of raids and arrested close to 300 people, beating and kicking them in the process. The bulk of the church members were released before July 14 after paying fines ranging between 800 and 1,000 rmb, but several leaders remained in custody in early September. On October 7, five sects, the Shouters, the Disciples, Ling Ling religion, and the Wholistic and Beiliwang sects, were targeted. According to an official account, "[T]he special struggle was conducted under the unified leadership of the Communist Party committees and police organs against the illegal and reactionary religious groups and sects because they endanger political and social stability."[33] "The ringleaders of the illegal groups have been hunted down and will be severely punished," the report continued,[34] then went on to say that the groups had "flaunt[ed] their activities under the banner of Christianity," and were involved in "illegal criminal activities."

The Beiliwang, with "several thousands of followers," has reached Hunan and Guangdong provinces. In March, Guangdong police arrested ninety-one members of the sect and tried eleven of its leaders on charges of "cheating people out of their property and [of] sexual promiscuity."[35] The Shouters was first declared illegal in 1983, but the sect has remained active and has spawned at least one splinter group, the Anointed One, headquartered in Shanghai. According to a report in the June issue of Tian Feng, the official magazine of the Chinese Christian Church, police moved against the "illegal" sect on February 7, 1995, accusing it of spreading fear, criticizing the party and government, and insulting the Three-Self Patriotic Movement. Twenty sect leaders were detained for questioning and education, but only Wu Yangming, fifty, was named. He had set up the sect in 1987 after his release from a year in jail for his Shouter activities. In 1989, Wu was sentenced to a three-year "re-education through labor" term for his new connection. He escaped after a year.

A modern transportation link, a new arterial road still under construction, due to pass through Huadu, fifty kilometers north of the booming city of Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, will offer easy access to the rest of China. Religious sources reported that authorities have cracked down in nearby Beixing township (administered by Huadu) to warn itinerant evangelists to stay away from Huadu. There have been four raids within four months. On March 18, 1995, seven uniformed police officers broke up a house church meeting at the home of Chen Qunyi and detained five people, Chen; two missionaries from Hong Kong. a fifty-six year-old Australian citizen named John Short, and Fung Sun-wah; and two Guangzhou preachers, forty-three-year-old Li Dexian and his assistant, Yao Jianzhong, forty- five. Li had been traveling to Beixing to preach on an average of once a month, and the four men had come to check on friends arrested in an earlier raid. The local police officers had other ideas. As soon as they broke in, they began to beat Li and Yao, but stopped when they realized Short was photographing the assault.[36] After only a few hours, they released the four men. Chen was held longer. Police initially told her that they would not let her go until she signed a pledge saying she would refuse to hold any more "illegal" church meetings in her home; however, three days later, she was released without having signed.

In the earlier raid, on February 18, during the eight hours he was held, five or six public security officers reportedly used a Bible to beat Li on his face and neck in an attempt to break his windpipe. They used steel rods to break his ribs and injure his back and legs, and jumped on and kicked his prone body until he vomited blood. All those present — some one hundred — were dragged away. Bibles, preaching notes, a television set belonging to the owner of the house, bicycles, and a motorcycle belonging to Yao were confiscated. Police told the set's owner she would have to pay for its return. They demanded 1,000 rmb for the motorcycle. In addition, police told the worshipers they would lose their state employment benefits as a result of their involvement.

Police detained Li for the fourth time on April 29. This time, in addition to breaking up the house church meeting , they held Li along with his wife, Liang Qiuxia, and Yao for two and a half hours. They again attacked Li, who reported that this beating was not so severe as the time he had his ribs broken

The first raid occurred just before year's end, on December 29, 1994, when Li and his wife were briefly held while security officers confiscated Bibles, chairs, and electric fans. Some articles were returned after fines totaling 1,400 rmb were paid. Li was not beaten in the December incident, but police officers warned him at the time that they could always ask "hooligans to do it on their behalf."

Human Rights Watch/Asia has received other reports of raids, fines, and short-term detentions, from other provinces and cities such as Shenyang in Liaoning, Xi'an in Shaanxi, Fuzhou in Fujian, Guilin in Guangxi, Tianjin, several locales in Sichuan, and Shenzhen, the Special Economic Zone in southern China.

Curtailing Catholic Networks

In a move to limit contact among underground bishops, Father Wei Jingyi, the thirty-six-year-old secretary- general of the Bishops' Conference organized by the underground church in November 1989, was detained on January 20, 1994, the day after he visited Bishop Su Zhimin in Baoding, Hebei. He had traveled there from Changchun in Jilin Province and was on his way to see Bishop Shi Enxiang in Yixian when he was ambushed. Father Wei, originally from Qiqihar, Heilongjiang, was released from Xushui county detention center on April 26. He had earlier served a three-year sentence in connection with the formation of the conference.

Eliminating Foreign Influence: Controls on Religious Materials

Control of the distribution of religious literature is another means of regulating the growth of unofficial churches.[37] Bibles printed by the one designated Chinese press are available in quantity only at official churches or distribution centers. No other source of supply is legal. Bibles cannot be printed by independent presses; they cannot be bought at a book store; they are not available in libraries; foreigners may only import into China religious materials sufficient for their personal use. When unofficial church adherents try to purchase enough to supply a congregation, they risk exposure. As a result, there has been a growing incidence of Bible smuggling and an increasing number of arrests.

On September 25, in Kunming, the provincial capital of Yunnan, Public Security Bureau officers arrested two local citizens, a man and a woman. At the same time, just outside the Kunming airport, police officers picked up several foreigners who were busy transferring twenty-two suitcases, containing some 1,000 Bibles, into a van. After five hours of interrogation about their relationship with local Protestants, the PSB officers released the visitors, but held their passports for another two days. Oddly enough, their visas were never canceled, leaving them free to continue their "visit." As of November 3, 1995, the Kunming man was still in incommunicado detention. In December 1991, the police had held him for three months after discovering "reactionary" religious literature during a raid on his apartment. It is not known if the woman is still detained. PBS officers seized the van as well as the Bibles.[38] "Confiscation" of vehicles is not uncommon in such situations. The authorities are often willing to arrange a trade, keeping the vehicle and releasing the detainees.

In a similar case, on September 5, 1995 in Nanjing, police confiscated a van and twenty bags of bibles and arrested a sixty-year-old man. Another believer escaped. Both men were heading home to Lixin, Anhui Province, after picking up the Bibles in Shanghai. On September 9, police in Lixin arrested a third man for receiving illegal imported Bibles. Both of the arrested men, reportedly part of a house church network with some 60,000 members in northwest Anhui and neighboring Henan Province, were still detained as of October 20. The incident is a continuation of a crackdown in Lixin and Mengcheng counties, dating back to September 1993, when dozens of Protestants were arrested and fined, and six leaders sentenced to "re-education through labor" terms.[39] When the head of the Fuyang Prefecture Re-education Through Labor Committee learned that overseas preachers sent a letter of protest and later a delegation to investigate the committee's actions, two additional believers were arrested and sentenced in September or October 1994. Jiang Huaifang, sixty-one, from Zhongding rural area, Jianhuang village, and Xu Funian, fifty-one, from Xuda village, received two-year terms to be served in Xuancheng Coal Mining Labor Camp. Xu reportedly has been severely beaten. Additional arrests of Protestants in Lixin came on September 9, 1995. As of September 19, thirty-seven or thirty-eight people were still being held.

Even the Reverend Samuel Lamb (Lin Xiangao), head of the prominent Damazhen Church in Guangzhou, was taken in for questioning on November 6, 1995 after police searched the church and confiscated forty bags (2,500) of bibles. For at least the last six years, city authorities have permitted Lamb to hold services for as many as 1,200 participants including visiting foreign dignitaries and curious tourists. But government tolerance has offered a pretext for surveillance. Public Security Bureau officials monitor the worshipers, and periodically, the Reverend Lamb or leaders of the satellite churches associated with Damazhen are detained and interrogated.

Eliminating Foreign Influence: Training Sessions

The presence of foreigners was in part responsible for a mass arrest in Zhongxiang, Hubei Province on April 18, 1995. Eleven local Public Security Bureau officials, all armed with electric batons, broke up a theological training class for new pastors and arrested the entire group, at least sixty-seven Chinese and three overseas Protestants. Officers interrogated the detainees, some of whom were badly beaten, particularly those from outside the local area, and reportedly shaved some of the men's heads. After they paid their fines, police drove the overseas participants to Wuhan, the provincial capital, and "advised" them to leave China immediately. Informed that they would be released after they paid fines of 200 renminbi (US $25) each, some local Protestants complied; others did not.

In Kaifeng, Henan, on March 15, 1994, seventy-four year-old Bishop Liang Xisheng was kept under house arrest for the day. Five days later, on March 20, he was detained and held until April 15, reportedly for visiting with overseas Catholics.

Eliminating Foreign Influence: U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women

Suspicion on the part of China's leaders, that all Chinese-foreigner religious contacts are suspect, was abundantly clear at the Fourth World Conference on Women and the parallel 1995 NGO Forum on Women, when participants were warned by a leading member of the Religious Affairs Bureau that they could not import religious materials into China other than those for personal use, and that religious materials "detrimental" to the public interest were forbidden. In addition, a booklet, "Points of Attention for Overseas Participants," issued by the Chinese "Security Committee" assigned to the conference, was specifically prepared for incoming delegates. Three sites, one each for Protestants, Muslims, and Catholics - all close to the official conference site - were set aside for religious activities. The booklet warned against "staging religious activities or distributing religious publicity materials in other places."[40]

By early July, house church leaders in Beijing were put on notice that they were being watched because of the upcoming conference and influx of foreigners. Alan Yuan, one of the most prominent, was warned not to permit foreigners to attend services at his church. On August 23, security officials took Bishop Jia Zhiguo of Zhengding, Hebei Province, on a two-day journey from his home in Jin county to a "guest" house in Anzhangshi, Zanhuang county. Until his release, he was not permitted to leave his room. Police blocked roads to the town and checked identity cards, permitting only local residents to enter. The sixty-year-old bishop, who has heart problems and anemia, and has been in and out of detention and prison at least eight times, was released on September 16, the day after the conference ended.

Bishop Han Dingxiang of Anguo, underground bishop of Handan diocese, Hebei Province, was arrested while saying mass on August 28, 1995 and detained in Yongnian, He was released in late October. At the time of his detention, the fifty-eight-year-old bishop was at home receiving intravenous medication for a heart problem. He had been hospitalized shortly before his arrest. It has been widely reported that he, too, was arrested to prevent him from meeting with delegates at the Fourth World Conference.[41]

Severing the Political-Religious Link

During the 1989 pro-democracy movement, Bishop Ding Guangxun, head of the Christian Church in China, endorsed the participation of Nanjing seminary students in the Beijing demonstrations. Party officials reacted with alarm to the possibility that even believers connected to official venues rejected communist ideology. Since 1989, as some few political dissidents and labor activists embraced religion and, in some cases, joined with apolitical religious adherents to press for universal human rights, officials have moved to smash the incipient "conspiracy."

Beijing has been the site of the most notable so-called collaboration. President Jiang Zemin's antipathy toward the League for the Protection of the Rights of Working People (LPRWP), an organization he described as "the most counterrevolutionary organization in China since 1949,"[42] some of whose members are Protestants, helps account for the crackdown on Beijing congregations. Two open churches, Gangwashi and Kuanjie, and their congregants have experienced the harshest treatment.

Gangwashi, an official Three-Self church, has been much in the press since mid-1994 with the news that religious officials were trying to replace the senior pastor, Yang Yudong. The campaign started at least two years earlier, with TSPM officials using as a pretext an unpublished, and possibly non-existent, regulation requiring the retirement of clerics over seventy. In reality, the authorities had become increasingly disturbed at the exponential growth in Gangwashi membership, at the particular attraction the church held for young congregants, and at its growing liberalism. In addition, to circumvent the refusal of the TSPM to permit the church to enlarge its seating capacity, Pastor Yang, an evangelist, had increased the number of scheduled Sunday services. Yang also helped establish more than forty unofficial outpost centers in Beijing's suburbs catering to those too ill, too poor, or too far from transportation facilities to make it to the main church. The Beijing police are still looking for these centers.

Other clashes between Pastor Yang and religious authorities, dating as far back as 1986, help explain the depth of control government and party officials try to establish and maintain and the lengths to which they will go when publicly challenged. For example, officials had ordered that Gangwashi not publicize its Christmas service. They had made repeated demands that they be supplied a list of those enrolled in the youth group. And they had tried to hinder the establishment of a church committee which would ensure the congregation "autonomy in internal affairs." It was that committee that dismissed attempts to install as senior pastor a loyal TSPM official notably lacking in religious fervor. On October 30, 1994, after Yang received still another retirement order, the church committee publicly announced it was backing the pastor, not the TSPM. On December 4, 500 riot police, 200 more in plainclothes, and two truckloads of soldiers forcibly removed Yang from the pulpit. He is forbidden to enter Gangwashi; and to make certain he cannot circumvent the order, PSB officers in an unmarked car keep a twenty-four- hour-watch at his house. Li Dequan, head of the church committee, was forced out on Christmas Day 1994, and the committee was dissolved.

Pastor Yang further angered religious officials by giving at least "spiritual" asylum and moral support to liberals and political dissidents. During the 1989 protests in Beijing, a banner reading "Christians Support the Students" hung from the church facade. From the time the move to oust Yang escalated, several of the liberals associated with the church experienced more than their usual difficulties.

Xiao Biguang, a thirty-three-year-old former literature professor at Beijing University, was a strong supporter of Pastor Yang; and he was one of the principal drafters of the charter for the LPRWP, the organization that so alarmed President Jiang. Xiao's interest in religion has been spiritual, intellectual, and practical. For example, he has written on the relationship between religion and the state, and he helped file a lawsuit on behalf of the Jesus Family.[43] Arrested on April 12, 1994, Xiao was tried in a two-hour proceeding a year later, on April 10, 1995. As of mid- December 1995, he had not been sentenced and was still in a Ministry of State Security lockup in Beijing.

The adjourned trial took place in the Beijing People's Intermediate Court No.1, the court responsible for adjudicating the cases of political prisoners handled by the State Security Bureau. However, Xiao had to answer to criminal charges. According to a prosecution statement seen by his lawyer one week before the trial, Xiao was accused of "swindling" and of creating a "negative atmosphere" among students when he taught at Yanqing Theological Seminary. The specific charge involved "using a false identity to conduct fraudulent activities. "The "false identity" referred to a business card in Xiao's possession which inaccurately described him as the holder of a doctorate degree. Xiao pleaded not guilty; he reportedly never used the cards after his employer, a trading company, had them printed for him.

Xiao's trial violated universal fair trial standards in several important ways. The April 3 meeting was the first time Xiao, who had been held incommunicado up to that point, was permitted to meet with his court-appointed lawyer. The meeting lasted one hour. By way of contrast, the state interrogated him over one hundred times. The court rejected two lawyers whom Xiao had nominated, telling him that they "knew too much about the case" One was a former judge; one was a Protestant.[44] There were no witnesses; rather, the case was based on testimonies, some of which were not available to the defense. Xiao's wife, Gou Qinghui, was refused the right to present defense arguments and, in violation of Chinese law, denied the right to attend the trial because the "courtroom is too small."

Gou has described her own continuing harassment since her husband's arrest. She has not been able to continue teaching at the Yanqing Seminary or to attend church meetings; she has been periodically subject to surveillance; she cannot continue to meet with co-religionists at home; she has been detained at least four times, twice in May 1994 and twice in May 1995. During the Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing security forces did not let her out of their sight. Gou is a member of the Beijing Christian Holy Spirit Study Center and a signatory during the May 1995 petition campaign of "Lessons Drawn From Blood, Push Forward Democracy and the Rule of Law."

During the near-riot on October 30, 1994 at Gangwashi church (see above), Hua Huiqi, registered as a member of Kuanjie church but often in attendance at Gangwashi, tried to photograph the scene, earning him a police beating. He responded by filing a lawsuit against the RAB; on January 14, 1995, he was arrested. On January 15, five police cars and some two dozen officers sealed off the street where his mother lives. They refused her permission to leave the district or receive visitors.

The January arrest was not Hua's first. In an earlier incident, in late May 1994, in the run up to the fifth anniversary of the 1989 crackdown in Beijing, he and six other dissidents were briefly detained for publicly praying for those killed in Tiananmen Square and for protesting the lack of democracy and human rights in China. In August, some of the group contacted foreign journalists and issued an appeal to believers worldwide to help "win the release of our brothers who have been arrested and to restore the job of our brother who has been fired" (see Xiao Biguang and Gao Feng).[45] Alerted to the ties between the churchgoers and the dissident movement, security officials were careful to keep close tabs on Hua and the six other dissidents. Thus, just before the police seized him in January, Hua told friends he was being followed and forecast his detention. The arresting officers claimed he had run down three pedestrians with his bicycle, an offense normally handled by local traffic police, not the Public Security Bureau, and they informed him that he was being held under the secretive 1980 State Council Document No.56. They ordered his mother to pay 10,000 renminbi in medical costs, claiming the three migrant workers Hua had hit were seriously injured and unconscious. She requested permission to see them, but was refused. Church members helped to raise the necessary funds.

At his release on bail on January 29, Hua was told that his case was not closed and criminal procedures were still pending. He was ordered not to contact foreigners or other Protestants. In early March 1995, after he signed a petition initiated by the pro-democracy student leader Wang Dan[46] urging the National People's Congress to look into police violence and unlawful detention, security officers called Hua in and warned him against complaining. They reminded him he was only free on bail.

Signing petitions proved dangerous for Xu Yonghai, another prominent member of the Holy Spirit Study Center. During the May-June 1995 petition campaign, he was one of more than fifty political-religious signatories to the "Blood" petition and the first to be sentenced. Xu was arrested without a warrant on May 25, 1995 at the Beijing hospital where he worked. On May 26, in the company of three police officers, he was permitted to return home to pick up a few personal belongings. That was the last his family saw him. On June 6, police searched his house. It was not until November 8, when Xu's sister, responding to rumors, went to the police to ask about her brother, did his family discover that sometime in October he had been sentenced without trial to a two- or three-year term of "re-education through labor." Police refused to supply additional details.

Liu Fenggang, also associated with the Holy Spirit Study Center and Gangwashi church was sentenced in an administrative procedure to a two- or two-and-a-half-year "re-education through labor" term probably in late November 1995. During the May-June 1995 petition campaign, he was picked up several times by the police and questioned briefly. On May 25, after he authored the petition "A Few Words on Behalf of the Ordinary People who are Suffering," he was held overnight. Before his release, he was warned not to speak out at June 4 anniversary time. Despite the orders, Liu continued to talk to the foreign press and to organize mutual support groups for threatened dissidents. Two months later, on August 9, he was dragged from his home. His sentencing came despite the fact that both Gangwashi and Kuanjie church members had pledged to keep a low profile during the Fourth World Conference on Women in exchange for his freedom. Security officers did not issue a warrant when they seized Liu, but they did confiscate about a dozen religious books and the video camera used to film the violent October clash between churchgoers and police after Pastor Yang was removed. Liu himself was tailed for about three weeks following that incident, then on November 23 knocked from his bicycle and badly beaten. Like Hua Huiqi, Liu was first summoned to the police station and warned about his preaching, his political dissident contacts, and his attendance at house church meetings in late May 1994.

Gao Feng, a Beijing Jeep worker, also has been administratively sentenced to a two-and-a-half-year "re- education through labor" term. The exact sentencing date has not been made public but was probably in late November 1995. When he was picked up on August 8, 1995, Gao's room was searched and a copy of an appeal he was working on for Liu Gang (a 1989 pro-democracy leader, released in June after serving a six-year term) was confiscated. Gao's case drew international attention after he was picked up in May 1994 with other dissident Protestants. During his detention, Beijing Jeep, a Chrysler subsidiary, fired him. Human Rights Watch/Asia was instrumental in helping him regain his job. It has been reported that Gao has been fired again, but the account is unconfirmed.

Liu Huanwen, thirty-two, did not have to wait for the 1995 crackdown. He was arrested on July 10, 1994 and sentenced before August 15 to a two-year "re-education through labor" term on a spurious charge of "hooliganism." His ties to Xiao Biguang, his reported involvement in an autonomous union, and his support of religious freedom were what earned him this latest sentence. After carrying a six-foot cross during demonstrations in Beijing in 1989, Liu served part of his first two-year term. Released in 1990, he surfaced again in May 1994 when he joined fellow Christians in public prayer.

Strengthening the Chinese Communist Party

Central government officials have repeatedly expressed concern over loyalty to communal organizations other than the Chinese Communist Party. For example, Shanxi Province government officials first banned the All- Domain Church in 1992. After its revival in the Xi'an and Xiyadi areas of Zecheng township, Zuoguan county, officials, anxious to "forcefully promote the building of grass-roots organizations,[47] subjected to party discipline, punished according to law and/or fined 163 people. Zuoguan county officials accused them all of preaching feudal superstition and of spreading reactionary works.

Curtailing Public Worship

According to a Human Rights Watch/Asia source, Religious Affairs Bureau and United Front Work Department officials will overlook "underground" worship services when they remain small and discrete. When officials determine that unofficial church adherents are "flaunting" their opposition, they move in to control the networks sponsoring the public events. Several particularly egregious examples took place in 1994-95. Newspaper accounts about mass participation in a religious celebration in Donglu, Hebei Province implied just the opposite, that by 1994 religious authorities had loosened surveillance and were permitting the resurrection of major religious gatherings. What the stories did not report was that despite the lack of overt interference, visitors were met at the train, an hour's ride from Donglu, and asked to return home. Some, in fact, were sent home. Roadblocks were in place, buses were checked; video surveillance was in evidence; and more than one hundred onlookers were detained. Human Rights Watch/Asia has been unable to confirm how many of the participants were Catholics and how many came to see what the celebration was all about.

Headed by Bishop Fan Xueyan, eighty-five at the time of his death in 1992, and until then perhaps the most influential of China's underground bishops, Baoding diocese in Hebei Province has been a center of underground church activities since the 1950s. On November 22, 1995 after all roads to Beideng, Donglu, and Quankun villages were closed, more than forty police vehicles carrying some 150 officers destroyed the newly completed Catholic church building in Beideng. In the process, security officers, led by the mayor of Qingyuan county and by their own district chief, beat construction workers who were finishing up work on the church roof. Five laborers were injured. Seven lay Catholics, Ma Shi, Ma Chongyan, Ma Yanjun, Liu Guowei, Ma Qi'en, Ma Yongjie, and Ma Guixian were taken to the Qingyuan detention center. All seven were released within four days.

Another Hebei clergyman, Father Chi Huitian of Baoding, was arrested on April 17 by the Shuangjing village, Ningjin county police, and released in late October. On April 16, he led an Easter Mass for some 600 Catholics in a field near his home in defiance of an order to cancel it, to abide by the instructions of the patriotic association bishop, and to transfer his congregation to an official venue. In addition, the PSB issued orders that Father Chi's congregation attend the official Easter Mass. Police officers threatened to fine those who attended Father Chi's Mass, to seal his house, and to confiscate religious materials. According to a Human Rights Watch/Asia source, at his release, Chi, who had been celebrating Sunday masses without interference for over a year before his arrest, was still suffering from the effects of a brain concussion as a result of a prison beating.

In April 1995, Public Security Bureau officers from Fuzhou, responding to an outpouring of congregants at an Easter Mass on Yujiashan (Yujia mountain) cracked down on the underground Catholic church in Yujiang diocese, Jiangxi Province. Of some 20,000 worshipers who attended the service, between thirty and forty were detained in Chongren and Yihuang counties and Linchuan city. Of those, four local Catholic lay persons, Pan Kunming (), born December 25, 1967 in Linchuan; Rao Yanping (), born October 10, 1977, from Linchuan; Yu Shuishen (), born July 7, 1937 in Yujia village; and Yu Qixiang (), born April 20, 1976 from Chongren, were sentenced to five, four, three and two years respectively on June 9. Fourteen others were fined 900 renminbi (US $110) each, the approximate equivalent of three months' earnings, before being released.[48] At least two women, Gao Shuyun, forty- five, and Huang Guanghua, forty-three, were so severely beaten they needed help feeding themselves after being freed. According to Chinese officials, the reason for the crackdown had to do with the site of the mass being a military training ground.

Bishop Zeng Jingmu was among those freed after a few days. But at 6:00 a.m. on October 4, the seventy-six- year-old bishop, who is in poor health, in part due to a pneumonia contracted in detention, was picked up for the third time. Released on October 18, he was seized again on November 22. Although the police made no arrests after a second Yujiashan mass in June, in August they detained two more local Catholics, Huang Tengzong and Father Liao Haiqing. The sixty-eight-year-old priest, who has a heart condition and high blood pressure, had been arrested at least five times before 1995, the last on August 11, 1994. After his August 4, 1995 arrest, he was sent to the detention center in Linchuan. Huang Tengzong, fifty-eight, has been held in Chongren since August 6.

The 1995 crackdown is a legacy of events dating back to August 1992 when Father Liao was arrested for saying mass in his home for more than 200 congregants. Police broke up a 1993 event and two in 1994. The August 15 crackdown was particularly bloody. Officers arrested thirty leaders, including Father Liao, several days before the scheduled Mass, and placed Bishop Zeng under house arrest.[49] Using fists, electric batons, leather belts and guns, the officers sealed paths and blocked traffic, forcing those worshipers who breached police lines back down the mountain. One of those arrested was lay leader Wu Jiehong.

In June 1995, the Yining (Ill) Autonomous Prefecture, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region) City Ethnic and Religious Department ordered local Catholics to change the architecture of a new church and to abide by other conditions listed in the May 15 document, "Catholics in Yining Constructing Church Without Authorization." Officials said the church was located too close to the airport and appeared "too prominent if one looks from the sky."[50] Therefore, two pointed spires had to be removed and the nave size reduced by twenty-five percent, severely restricting the number of worshipers who could be accommodated at any one service. In addition, the document decreed that no large bell could be hung outside the church; no charitable institutions could be run within the church compound; no outside priest could say Mass, perform baptisms, develop Catholics, or run religious activities in conjunction with other congregations; and no additional site in the city could be developed as a Catholic religious venue. Church construction had begun in July 1994 with official approval, but was suspended by order of the city government in March 1995. Another church, under construction twenty-five kilometers from Yining, was ordered reduced in size by two-thirds.[51]

Still another church, this one 135 years old, was razed in Gang diocese, Guizhou Province on July 21, 1995, reportedly with the consent of the government-approved bishop. In the process, public security officers injured some thirty Catholic lay persons who were trying to stop the demolition. As of October 25, construction work on a commercial building to replace the church was well underway. As compensation, the government returned to the congregation a piece of land which had formerly been theirs, but it awarded no funds for construction purposes.


The prospects for relaxation of official control of independent religious activities in China are slim. As the threat of unemployment affects more workers, as reports of unrest in urban centers and in the countryside spread, and acts of dissent increase, they intensify the determination of China's leaders to shut down all potential centers of dissidence.



Two Catholic fathers active in the underground church in Qinghai Province, Qin Guoliang and Li Zhixin, are serving two-year administrative "re-education through labor" terms in Duoba Labor Camp near the provincial capital of Xining. Both were sentenced in November 1994, shortly after Qin's arrest on November 3. There is no information about a third person, a layman arrested with Qin. Qin, a sixty-six-year-old Jesuit, reportedly suffering from malnutrition, was transferred sometime before the end of April 1995 from carrying stones and blocks of ice to light duties as camp treasurer. Before his arrest, Li, a thirty-eight-year-old worker in a Huafei factory in Fujiahai, had reported steady surveillance of religious activity in Qinghai. He himself, according to his earlier report, was branded a counterrevolutionary and made a prime target of State Security Bureau monitoring. At that same time, Qin was repeatedly interrogated and pressured to reveal details about the local Catholic underground. He reportedly refused. This was not a first arrest for either Qin or Li. After both were detained on April 22, 1994, Li spent a short time in a labor camp and Qin remained in administrative detention until the end of July. Li was detained even earlier, in 1993, while celebrating mass in Jiangsu Province. Qin, originally from Shanghai, started a thirteen-year sentence in 1955. Upon release, he worked an additional thirteen years as a "detained employee" in the Xining Brick Factory No.4. Refused permission to return to Shanghai, he remained at his factory job in Xining where he was secretly ordained in 1986.

Huang Yanbiao, a blacksmith and self-styled "healer" and evangelical preacher from Boyan township, Zhejiang Province, was detained for ten days in 1993 and eleven in 1994 for illegal preaching and for setting up a "meeting point" in his home. In January 1992, Huang claimed he had a vision that 1995 would see the start of six years of trouble, to begin with a three-year famine. In 2001, he said, Jesus would return. One of his followers, Xu Waijian, thirty-five, who traveled from village to village broadcasting Huang's prophesies, was arrested in April 1994 and administratively sentenced to a two-year term of "re-education through labor."

Wang Yaohua, a Protestant in his mid thirties, arrested in Yongkang, Zhejiang Province in early 1993, was sentenced to a three-year term. Other than that he is held in Chuzhou, near Nanjing, and is due to be released in spring 1996, no further information is available.

Previously unreported arrests date back to December 25-29, 1993, when Li Qingming, sixty-seven; Zhang Zhiqiang, forty-six; Li Huizhen (), forty-two; Chen Mingzhang, thirty-four; and Shen Ronggen, thirty eight, all from Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, were charged with being members of the Legion of Mary. They received respectively ten-, seven-, seven-, five-, and three-year sentences. In the 1950s, the Legion of Mary was branded a secret group of counterrevolutionaries, but there is no information as to why current membership is bringing such harsh punishment.

Sentenced and released

Chu Peiqing, arrested in Langfeng, Hebei Province in October 1994 and sentenced to a year's imprisonment for transporting Bibles and other religious materials, was held in a Langfeng labor camp. It is presumed that he was released after completing his term.


Four nuns from the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, Cheng Xiujuan, Chen Suxiang, Zhang Xiaofang, and Xiao Lixin, were arrested in Jilin Province on June 16, 1995. As of August 29 they were still in detention.

The whereabouts of another Xining Catholic, Bishop Gu Zheng, fifty. were unknown as of August 29, 1995. He had been released in December 1994, after being arrested on October 6 while teaching at an unregistered Catholic seminary. Public Security Bureau (PSB) and Religious Affairs Bureau (RAB) officials from Urumqi in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, then ordered the seminary closed. Still another Catholic from Urumqi, Father Xue Qixiu, was arrested sometime in December for receiving a foreign visitor, then released in December. He too has disappeared amid speculation that he has been arrested again. Neither man has a Urumqi residency permit. Father Gu had been detained even earlier, for one year in Qinghai Province, sometime after the 1949 revolution but before the general releases of religious prisoners in the late 1970s.

Father Li Jianjin, from Handan diocese, Hebei Province, was arrested on March 4, 1994 while celebrating mass in a private house. No additional details are available.

In Fengfeng, Hebei, on April 2, 1994, Father Lu Dongliang and eleven others were arrested during an Easter celebration. As of August 29, 1995, only Father Lu remained in detention.

Father Zhang Guoxiang, Father Zhang Shulai and a layman, Lu Hongming, were arrested in Inner Mongolia for reasons related to their underground church activities. Father Zhang Guoxiang was seized while waiting for a bus in Bameng on June 22, 1995; Father Zhang Shulai, of Bameng diocese, on May 18 in Wuhan; and Lu on April 14 in Linhe. As of August 29, Lu was still in detention in the Bameng detention center; Human Rights Watch/Asia has received no further news of the other two.

Police arrested Sun Guofu. a layman from North Zhang village, Handan, on February 23, 1995 for having organized a spiritual retreat for a group of Catholics. According to a Human Rights Watch/Asia source, Sun was tortured and had some belongings, including a television set, confiscated. As of August 29, police were demanding as a condition of his release that he pay a fine of 5,000 rmb (US$625) and throw a banquet for local cadres.

The Thai consulate in Guangdong, reported that a Thai women, Ngarmjit Phanukitsiri, was arrested in the Yang district of Guangdong for disseminating religious beliefs allegedly disruptive of social order. No information as to the disposition of the case is available.

Police seized Father Xia Z(S)haowu and a twenty-year-old student, Zeng Zhongliang(ling), on December 29, 1994 while they were walking along a road in Yujiang district, Jiangxi Province. According to a Human Rights Watch/Asia source, the arrest occurred after the government-approved Bishop in the diocese denounced them to the local patriotic association. Zeng was released before Easter but as of May 1995, Father Xia was still detained.

Detained and released

Bishop Li Hongye from Luoyang, Henan Province, seventy-five, was released in 1995, precise date unknown. Along with two other Catholics, the bishop was seized by plainclothesmen on July 25, 1994 on his way home from mass. The others were released that afternoon, but Li was held in the detention center in Yanshi county town until August 17, then transferred to a PSB "guest house" in Luoyang. Several days later he was taken to a doctor who diagnosed a stomach cancer. Bishop Li was first arrested in Yanshi in 1953 and spent thirty years in prison before being permitted to return home so that a paralysis he had developed could be treated. Returned to health, he resumed his work, only to be confined to his home village before his 1994 arrest.

Father Li Zhong'an, an eighty-nine-year-old from Songjiang county in Shanghai municipality, was held for part of the day on July 29, 1994 while police searched his home. In the process, they confiscated religious materials including an extensive set of set of videotapes.

In an arrest related to the 1989 clandestine Bishops' Conference, police officers removed Father Wang Ruohan from his home in Tianshui, Gansu Province on June 16, 1994, beating him so severely that one of his ribs was broken. They ordered him to produce the record of that meeting, but it reportedly had already been burned. In 1990, Father Ruohan, in his forties, served a one-year "re-education through labor sentence."

Police detained Father Wang Xiucheng, from a village in the Renqiu area in Hebei, part of Baoding diocese, on March 30, 1994 and held him until April 15, probably for his work as rector of an unofficial seminary.

In Beijing, on November 9, 1994, police officers raided the home of eighty-three-year-old Father Yang Maqi, a Trappist, while he was saying mass. After confiscating his religious articles and 6,300 rmb, Father Yang was restricted to his home. a nun from Tianjin who had been in attendance was placed under investigation and prohibited from returning home.

Other incidents

Catholic fisherman have long built makeshift churches, some right on the decks of their boats. In 1994, police began to raid such structures, confiscating religious articles and burning at least one building. On July 6, boats in Xiaojing township, Wuxian county, southern Jiangsu Province were targeted. On July 14, villages in Changshu and Wuxian were raided. In one instance, more than forty people, some in camouflage uniforms, some with electric batons, raided a boat on a lotus pond in Xinzhuang township. No warrants were produced. At about the same time, police blockaded roads and waterways near a lakeside in Qidu and spread gasoline around a straw shed serving as a church, setting it afire. The church had been damaged several times before the final blaze.

Suits filed against a district police station and a Public Security Bureau by Yin Dongxiu, the wife of Zheng Musheng, a peasant beaten to death on January 6, 1994 in a Hunan detention center, have reportedly been ignored. (See Appendix VII.) She has been interrogated, harassed, placed under tight surveillance, had her possessions confiscated, and been threatened with arrest. Zheng had been arrested in Moyan village, Shizhu district, Dongkou county along with twenty others - later released - on the day before his death on January 7. After the beating at the Shanmen district, Huangni River local PSB station, Zheng was transferred to the county facility but was refused medical attention. Twelve days after his death, the police permitted family members to go to the hospital and learn the truth. Officers claimed that a fellow prisoner had beaten Zheng for failure to keep his quarters clean. Observing that his injuries were consistent with torture and methods commonly used by police, Yin refused to permit cremation. Officers then signed the authorization in her place and the cremation was performed.


Appendix not available for technical reasons


Appendix not available for technical reasons


"Ringleader of an Illegal Religious Organization, Huang Fangxin, was Apprehended for Investigation"

On January 27, 1994, the city public security organ arrested Huang Fangxin of Bodong village, Boyan township, for investigation. Huang engaged in illegal religious activities, organized the "Gospel Team" illegally and spread counterrevolutionary speeches which have disrupted social order, normal religious activities and influenced social stability and unity. At the same time, Chen XX of Shangma village, Tongxi township, and ShuXX of Qinfeng village, Yongxiang township, who obstructed and beat up government functionaries who carried out their duty according to law, were detained fifteen and twelve days respectively for public order punishment.

An Open Letter to All Churches in the Municipality (Dispatch of Yongkang Church, No.13)

Date: March 25, 1993

From: Yongkang Lianghui

Recently there appears in our municipality a fever of "gospel team" among young Christians. They offer themselves up for the sake of "preaching the gospel." Their intention is good. However, they have deviated from the right doctrine. The "gospel" they preach (contains the message) that "the Lord is coming back. Do not work any longer. It is useless to make money." They also claim to be holy and destroy pictures hanging on the wall or in frames. They distort the Bible and twist the parable of the great banquet to justify their dragging people in the streets to church. In so doing, they have in fact violated the current religious policy, for "religious activities should be conducted within the limits of the constitution, laws, regulations and the policy." At the same time, their unauthorized "evangelization" in the churches both inside and outside this country has become the subject of gossip among the masses of Christians which has seriously affected the name of our church. For this, the municipal lianghui has decided, after investigation, that all churches must conscientiously do their own job well. When they find the above-mentioned believers, they should lead them into the right ideological education without delay. They should attach great importance to it, lest our church be disgraced. For those who do not listen to your advice, each church affairs committee should report the case in question to the municipal lianghui promptly. Please do your best at your job as watchers.


Appendix not available for technical reasons


InfPubJoint (1994) No.14

Regulations Governing the Printing of the Bible

To: To:The Bureaus of Information and Publications of the various Provinces, Autonomous Regions and Municipalities directly under the Central Government, the Bureau of Religious Affairs, the Guangdong Sub-Agency, and the customs houses directly under the Central Government:

In order to strengthen the control of the printing and production of the Bible (including biblical stories) undertaken by printing enterprises, prevent confusion in the printing and production of the Bible for foreign customers, regulations are hereby stipulated as follows:

I. National religious organizations shall be responsible for the printing and production of the Bible. The work must be approved by the Bureau of Religious Affairs of the State Council. Circulation must be restricted within the churches.

II. Accepting Bible print jobs ordered by foreigners (from Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and foreign countries) must be approved by the Bureau of Religious Affairs and the Bureau of Information and Publications of the province (autonomous region and municipality directly under the central government) where the printing enterprise is located. Printing must be done by enterprises designated by the Bureau of Religious Affairs of the State Council, the Customs Head Office and the Agency of Information and Publications for the record. All the products must be shipped outside the country. No copies are allowed within the country for circulation or sale.

III. As a matter of principle, printing enterprises are not allowed to accept print jobs of Chinese editions or editions with both Chinese and foreign language texts of the Bible ordered from abroad. In case of special need, it must be reported to the Bureau of Religious Affairs of the State Council for approval.

IV. The printing enterprises doing the job should be designated state printers and a few provincial printers, as well as the Nan Ai De Printing Company, Ltd. that has all along been printing the Chinese edition of the Bible for patriotic Chinese religious organizations, that are well managed and equipped and technically competent so as to guarantee product quality and prompt delivery.

V. During the process of printing, the enterprise must designate a person in charge to exercise strict control in accordance with the rules regulating the printing of secret matters. The following should be strictly observed:

1.         When accepting the job, there must be an original copy of the document of approval as specified above. The customer placing the order and the printer must sign a formal contract.

2.         The number of copies printed must be identical to the number approved. No extra copies are allowed.

3.         Quality must be guaranteed. No rejects are allowed to leave the print shop.

4.         The products must be delivered in specified quantity and on time. No small balance or delay is allowed. The finished products must be shipped abroad according to contract. Under no circumstances can they be shipped elsewhere.

5.         The finished and semi-finished products must be strictly controlled. Extra copies and rejects must be checked against plain paper by a specially designated person and shredded. No copy should be lost.

6.         When the job is finished, the original manuscript, films, etc. must be returned to the customer. The printing enterprise is not allowed to keep or transfer them.

VI. The customs houses should keep records of and oversee those items of processing for foreign customers and imports of materials that conform to the regulations stipulated above and checked against the original copy of approval.

VII. Those who accept Bible print jobs in violation of these regulations shall be punished as engaging in illegal publishing. Those who violate the criminal law, should be sent to the judicial departments to be held criminally responsible.

VIII. Any discrepancies in earlier regulations from these regulations must be superseded by these regulations, which must now be taken as the standard.

Agency of Information and Publications
Bureau of Religious Affairs of the State Council
Customs Head Office

Subject: Regulations governing the printing of the Bible
Copy for the China Printing Co.


Accusant: Yin Dongxiu, female, thirty one, villager of Lijia Team. Moyan Village, Shizhu township, Dongkou county (wife of Zheng Musheng, the victim).

Accused: Shanmen police station and Dongkou county Public Security Bureau

Subject matter of the case: Wilful beating causing death.


1. The superior political and legal authorities and public security departments mete out capital punishment to the murderer according to law so as to calm down public wrath.

2. The Shanmen police station and the Dongkou County Public Security Bureau, in total disregard of the law, tried to extort a confession by torture [and] killed a man. The superior political and legal authorities and public security departments are requested to investigate and deal with the case seriously according to law.

Facts and reasons for accusation:

Zheng Musheng, husband of the accusant (the victim was thirty-six, young and strong) was killed without cause.

Since 1990, Zheng Musheng had been a devoted Christian, piously believing in God. He preached in Shizhu, Shanmen district. He abided by the law, loved the church, glorified God and benefitted the people. His actions were beneficial to the country and the people. In recent years, Zheng Musheng never used religion to commit fraud or rape in society. Yet he was brutally murdered.

Late in the night of January 5, 1994, Yin Zihua of the Shizhu township government, in the capacity of a judicial officer, at the head of seven members of the family planning team, broke into the home of the accusant, handcuffed Zheng Musheng on unwarranted charges and escorted him to Shizhu township government. That same night, he was sent to Shanmen police station. Acting on a one-sided report from the Shizhu township government, members of the police station tortured Zheng Musheng and tried to extort a confession. The torture lasted all night and the victim was on the verge of death.

Law enforcement officers should strictly base their judgement on the facts and act according to law. Torture to extort a confession is strictly forbidden. But the Shanmen police station, in total disregard of the law, did whatever they pleased. They got nothing from the all-night interrogation. As the victim was in terrible shape, they did not dare send him home. Instead, they hurriedly sent him to the county public security jail.

At about one o'clock in the afternoon of January 7, the Dongkou Public Security Bureau sent a messenger to the home of the accusant. He lied to the accusant that Zheng Musheng was seriously ill and near death and asked the accusant to visit him. Upon hearing the news, the accusant hurried to the Dongkou county Public Security Bureau. But the Public Security Bureau changed its mind and would not allow the accusant to see Zheng Musheng. What were they up to? The accusant sensed that something was terribly wrong. She strongly demanded to see Zheng Musheng. Only then did the public security bureau admit that "he is in the hospital." When the accusant hurried to the hospital, what she saw was the body of Zheng Musheng, covered all over with cuts and bruises. The accusant was shocked and deeply grieved.

Beginning at one o'clock in the afternoon of January 19, the Dongkou Public Security Bureau sent fifty people to stand guard at the mortuary of the People's Hospital until about 3:30, when they secretly removed the body. They arrived in Shaoyang at about 7 p.m. and cremated the body at about 8 p.m. When the body arrived at the crematory, four workers there saw that the body was covered with cuts and bruises. A young worker refused to cremate the body. He said that the body was dissected, and it was covered with wounds and bruises. There was also no family member present to sign the papers. But the public security personnel, using their institutional authority, forced the cremation.

Later, the Dongkou Public Security Bureau made a hasty decision to compensate the deceased 8,000 yuan for burial expenses, and the Dongkou township government was to compensate the accusant 1,000 yuan as family allowance.

What was difficult to understand was that Zheng Musheng was young and strong. No one could have killed him easily. How did he die so suddenly? The accusant insistently asked the public security officers the cause of death. They hemmed and hawed and said that "he was beaten to death in prison by a prison despot on the 16th."

1.         Why did the messenger from the Dongkou county Public Security Bureau who came to the accusant's home withhold the truth and lie about Zheng Musheng being ill and near death? If Zheng Musheng actually died in prison, why was his body sent to the hospital? What was their motive or intent?

2          If Zheng Musheng was a criminal, why was he said to be killed in prison by a prison despot? Where did the prison despot get his murder weapon? (The body was covered with cuts and showed marks of having been strapped tight with a rope.)

3.         Who is this prison despot? Has he been held criminally responsible for Zheng's death?

4.         What are the reasons for the Public Security Bureau and the Shizhu township government to compensate the deceased? Could it be that they were paying on behalf of the prison despot? This is pure nonsense.

5.         Why were family members not allowed to view the body at the crematory and sign the papers? Could it be that the Public Security Bureau was trying to protect the prison despot? Is there such a law in China?

There are a series of unimaginable questions. It is not difficult to see that the problem is with the Dongkou Public Security Bureau and the Shanmen police station. And it is absolutely impossible that Zheng was killed by a prison despot as claimed. He was tortured to death by the police and the Public Security Bureau, and they shifted the blame to the prison despot. Their motive was to absolve themselves from criminal responsibility, find a scapegoat, and cover up the truth.

From the above, the victim, Zheng Musheng, apparently made a mistake in believing in Christianity and preaching the Christian faith. Or could it be that the government considers the Christian church a reactionary sect? If Zheng Musheng strayed, he could have been re-educated. But the public security departments, in total disregard of the law, willfully put someone to death. How could they be expected to respect people's constitutional right to religious belief? Zheng Musheng never did anything evil using religion as a cover. The government could have conducted an investigation openly or covertly. What crime did Zheng commit? His case has aroused great public wrath. That cannot be pacified if no investigation is made of those criminally responsible.

Today, when China is constantly perfecting its legal system, the officers of Shanmen police station, Dongkou county, dared to disregard the law, used torture to extort a confession, killed a person, did whatever they pleased, regarded citizens as totally worthless and created such a shocking case of murder. That is really rare. In this case, articles 136, 143 and 189 of the Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China should apply. In view of the fact that the officers at the Dongkou county Public Security Bureau and the Shanmen police station used torture to extort confession that caused death, they violated the law when enforcing it and committed a crime. They not only tortured Zheng Musheng to death, but also instructed the Shizhu township government to illegally confiscate all the accusant's property, food, bedding and furniture. The accusant has a mother in her eighties and two young children to support. They are in danger of being starved or frozen to death. Can the state and the Communist Party that practices socialism tolerate such a rare, heinous crime?

"When a prince commits a crime, he should be punished as a commoner." If the culprits are not severely punished according to law, the public wrath cannot be pacified. Therefore, as long as the accusant lives, she will fight for justice for her husband who was murdered without cause. She will go right up to the supreme organ if necessary. I am convinced that the law is fair and just. I request that the superior political and legal authorities help the people and overcome all obstacles to uphold the dignity of the law, be an impartial judge, and redress the injustice that befell my late husband by bringing to justice those criminals responsible for his death.


Appendix not available for technical reasons

[1] See, as examples, Human Rights Watch/Asia, " China: Keeping the Lid on Demands for Change," Human Rights Watch Short Report, Vol.7 No.7, June 1995; and Human Rights Watch/Asia, "Pressure Off, China Targets Activists," Human Rights Watch Short Report, Vol.6, No.7, June 1994.

[2] The six-year-old boy chosen by the Dalai Lama has disappeared. It is believed he and family are in Beijing, their movements restricted by Chinese security.

[3] The twelve "major relationships" are a revision and update of one of Mao Zedong's major policy speeches,"On the Ten Major Relationships," April 25, 1956.

[4] "Illegal religious sects a `threat to stability,'" Hongkong Standard, January 7, 1995, quoting the Enlightenment Daily.

[5] "Suggestions about Dealing with Party Members and Party Cadres who Take Part in Religious Organizations and Activities or in Illegal Organizations," drafted by the Beijing Party Committee and circulated by the Secretarial Department and Discipline Inspection Committee of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, January 26, 1995. (see Appendix V).

[6] Quoted in "Religion `Spawning Turmoil': Official," Eastern Express, Hong Kong, May 26, 1995.

[7] The phrase is used constantly by Chinese officials at news briefings, in interviews and appears in regulations and laws, including for example, the "Detailed Rules for Implementing the State Security Law of the People's Republic of China."Implementing Regulations of the State Security Law."

[8] See below, "The extra-legal tack: local responses," and also Appendix I.

[9] Unofficial Catholic churches have come to be labeled underground or clandestine despite the fact that their existence is usually well-documented and known to local authorities. Unofficial Protestant congregations took the name house churches from their practice of meeting in small groups in private homes. At present, the term is used for unofficial gatherings, no matter their size or meeting place.

[10] For an example of a successful religious community, see the account of the crackdown on the Jesus Family in Shandong Province in Human Rights Watch/Asia, "No Progress on Human Rights," Human Rights Watch Short Report, Vol. 6 No. 3, May 4, 1994, pp. 18-21 and pp. 26-27.

[11] See, for example, Document No.19: The Basic Viewpoint and Basic Policy of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party Concerning the Religious Question in the Period of Socialism in China, March 3, 1982; and Document No.6: On Some Problems of Further Improving Work on Religion, February 5, 1991, both of which are reproduced in Human Rights Watch/Asia (formerly Asia Watch), Freedom of Religion in China (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1992), pp. 27-45.

[12] For a more detailed discussion of the policy change, see Chan Kim-Kwong, "Bringing Religion into the Socialist Fold," in China Review 1995, Chinese University Press, Hong Kong, 1995, pp. 174-75.

[13] See, as examples, three new set of provincial regulations, Interim Regulations of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on the Administration of Religious Affairs (Appendix II), Shaanxi Province's Regulations on the Management of Religious Places and the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region Interim Regulations on the Administration of Religious Affairs, and Regulations for the Management of Religious Personnel in Sichuan Province (Appendix III).

[14] See footnote 11, "Freedom of Religion in China," pp. 27-76, and Human Rights Watch/Asia (formerly Asia Watch), Continuing Religious Repression in China (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1993), pp. 48-54. In addition to the documents reproduced in these reports, between 1988-91 the Religious Affairs Bureau circulated a series of secret documents that shed light on CCP policy making. Among them are "Comments on Enhancing the Work of Religious Academies," "Notification on Stopping and Dealing with Those Who Use Christianity to Conduct Illegal Activities," "Comments on the Protestant Church Sending Students Overseas," "Comments on Handling Religious Publications that Enter Our Borders," and "On Carefully Solving the Question of CCP Members who Accept Religion." For texts see Chan Kim-Kwong and Alan Hunter, "New Lights on Religious Policies," in Issues and Studies, February 1995, pp. 29-33

[15] From the Hong Kong-based Chinese Church Research Center.

[16] "Zhejiang Reaffirms Supervision of Religion," Hangzhou Zhejiang People's Radio Network, August 30, 1995; in Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS), September 6. See also "Li Zemin Urges Control Over Religious Affairs," Hangzhou Zhejiang People's Radio Network, August 30, 1995; in FBIS, September 1.

[17] News Network International, October 6, 1995.

[18] China News and Church Report, October 7, 1994 (CNCR is a publication of the Chinese Church Research Center).

[19] South China Morning Post, Hong Kong, July 8, 1995.

[20] Sergio Ticozzi, "Political-Religious Issues in China Today," Tripod, Hong Kong, July-August 1995, pp 26-32.

[21] Almost immediately after the issuance of Regulation No.144, officials in Henan Province detained and harassed seven overseas Protestants, including Dennis Balcombe, a well-known Hong Kong missionary. No detainee was permitted to contact his country's embassy. Before expelling the group, officials confiscated cash and equipment worth US $12,500.

[22] "Ringleader of an Illegal Religious Organization, Huang Fangxin, Apprehended for Investigation," Yongkang Bao, Yongkang, February 4, 1994. For all documents relating to Huang Fangxin, see Appendix IV. The author wishes to thank Deng Zhaoming of the Chinese Study Centre on Chinese Religion and Culture for all translations connected with Huang's case.

[23] The official view was that he was required to leave.

[24] See footnote 22.

[25] See footnote 22.

[26] See footnote 22.

[27] See footnote 21.

[28] Li was first arrested in 1960, and held until 1970. Re-arrested in 1974, he spent another six years in prison and ten years under house arrest. The author of three books on religion, Li also spent time in detention in 1990 for leading an evangelical training seminar, and again in 1992.

[29] Arrests not connected to raids have been somewhat unusual in the renewed crackdown on house churches.

[30] Xu, a local leader for more than eight years, was fined 1,000 renminbi in late 1994 after organizing a Bible study class at her home. Wang, forty-four, has been arrested and fined three times since she left the local Three-Self church in 1994.

[31] See Human Rights Watch Asia, "Persecution of a Protestant Sect." Human Rights Watch Short Report, Vol. 6 No. 6, June 1994.

[32] China News and Church Report, July 14, 1995.

[33] Public Security News, as reported by UPI in "Police Hit Rural Sects in Religious Crackdown," South China Morning Post, October 21, 1995.

[34] Ibid.

[35] This earlier account was reported in the Nanfang Daily, Nanfang.

[36] Security officers later seized the camera and exposed the film.

[37] See Appendix VI.

[38] News Network International, October 20, 1995.

[39] See Human Rights Watch/Asia, Detained in China and Tibet, A Directory of Political and Religious Prisoners (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1994), p. 17.

[40] Quoted in UCANews, August 30, 1995.

[41] Bishop Han has been imprisoned many times. While still a layman, he spent nineteen years (1960-79) incarcerated. On December 26, 1990, he was ordered to a "study camp," placed "under investigation," and held for an extended period. In November 1993, he was detained again, this time for several months. In March 1994, he finally was permitted to move about freely during the day but was restricted to a police station at night.

[42] South China Morning Post, March 27, 1995.

[43] See footnote 10.

[44] "Charges Against Union Activist," South China Morning Post, April 6, 1995.

[45] Associated Press, August 1, 1994.

[46] Wang Dan, No.1 on the student "most wanted" list after June 4, 1989, served most of a four-year prison sentence. After he continued to speak out against human rights violation in China and initiated several petitions supporting his positions, he was "disappeared" on May 21, 1995.

[47] "Zuoguan county in Shanxi Province openly handles persons engaged in illegal religious activities," Zhongguo Jijian Jiancha Bao, November 19, 1994

[48] Others detained and released include: on April 26, Cui Maozai (), forty-two; on April 25, Zeng Yinzai (), sixty; Wang Yuqin, twenty-three, a nun, arrested in Linchuan, Dongan township, Xiabi village; on April 13, Zhu Changshun (), forty; on April 13, 14, 18 or 19, Gao Jianxiu (), forty-six; Huang Maiyu (), forty; Lu Huiying (), fifty-one; You Xianyu (), forty-two; Wu Yinghua (), thirty; Wu Jiehong (), forty-six; Zhang Wanlin () sixty, blind; and Zhu Lianrong (), forty- nine.

[49] Bishop Zeng was also held from September 19 until December 1994.

[50] "City Officials in Xinjiang Order Catholics to Demolish Church Spires," UCANews, October 25, 1995.

[51] For another example of a large public worship service, see "Thousands Attend Charismatic Meeting as Movement Spreads in China," UCANews, October 19, 1995.

In the last two years, the Chinese government has issued new directives requiring all congregations to register with religious authorities, stepped up pressure on evangelists, and tightened control on contact with foreigners and distribution of religious materials. Those suspected of linking religion to political activity have been singled out for the harshest treatment.

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