China House Church Leaders Return After Meeting Bush Amid Government Crackdown

an American official met them at Beijing airport with Chinese security forces looking over their shoulders, investigators said.

Christian advocacy group China Aid Association told BosNewsLife that Yu Jie and Wang Yi, were welcomed by diplomat Eric Richardson of the US Embassy, closely monitored by an official from China's State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA), while "Chinese security officers photographed them," CAA said.

"Reportedly the Chinese central government was very furious about the White House meeting between US President Bush and the three Chinese House church believers," May 11, the group explained. The White House "cautioned the Chinese highest authority to handle the return of the three individuals carefully,", said CAA, which has close contacts with the house church movement in China.

Since last week's meeting, there have been fresh reports of a government crackdown on house churches and individuals. For instance, Liu Min, the wife of Yu Jie, "was recently interrogated by Chinese security agents to stop attending the Beijing Church of Ark which was founded by the couple," CAA explained.

SECURITY AGENTS

"It was also suggested by the security agent that she divorce Yu Jie [and] if she didn't comply security agents threatened to pressure her employer, a US Company in Beijing, to fire her and to damage her reputation by exposing her private life stories," CAA said, without elaborating.

Despite the pressure, Yu Jie and his church coworker, author Bei Cun, planned to travel Berlin to attend an annual international conference over the weekend. 

CAA said it also learned that other house churches came come under attack in recent days, and that at least one pastors was still detained following the latest raids. "On May 16 and May 18 three Chinese house church leaders were arrested in Shanghai and Beijing respectively...On May 16, in Minhang District , Shanghai City, ten Public Security Bureau (PSB) officers with two police vehicles raided a house church Bible study meeting at the home of a believer, named Ms. Fan Jinlin," the group claimed.

LEADERS DETAINED

"Two church leaders Pastor Zhang Guangming from Henan and Pastor Ye Shengchong from Zhejiang were detained. One of them is still being held." In Beijing, Thursday, May 18, well-known Chinese House Church leader Pastor Chu Wei from Anhui Province was arrested, investigators said. He was reportedly released after four hours of interrogation.

Prior to the arrest and raids this week, the Chenhang House Church at Pujiang Town of Minhang District in Shanghai was reportedly disrupted May 12 and ordered to close by Shanghai authority. Chinese officials have denied reports of persecution saying China's estimated 80-million Christians are free to worship in the official churches.

In a reaction, ex-Chinese house church official and current CAA president Bob Fu told BosNewsLife that "the Chinese house church Christians are not a threat to the stability of Chinese society." He said, "They have been ready to make a larger contribution to help the needy and practice the rule of law in today's China once that true religious freedom is realized."

He said the CAA has urged the Chinese government to immediately release Pastor Chu.

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