sources confirmed Thursday, June 15. After security forces raided his house twice, 43-year-old Pastor Wang Zaiqing was detained April 28 and transferred to No. 1 Detention Center of Huainan City in Anhui province, said the US-based China Aid Association (CAA), which represents house churches in China.
Earlier on April 25 and April 26, "Pastor Wang’s house was searched twice and a number of items were confiscated including Christian literature such as Hymnals, Christian Life Quarterly magazine, Why Believe Jesus, Chinese Church History, Pauline Epistles and bank cards," the group said. Even "an electronic piano used by Pastor Wang’s daughter was confiscated," the organization claimed.
During that period, the pastor and his wife, Zhang Hongyan were also summoned for questioning by officials of the Public Security Bureau of Huainan City, where they had their finger prints taken on charges of "illegally printing, editing, and distributing Christian propaganda material," CAA said.
CAA suggested it was concerned over the health situation of Pastor Wang as he has been "crippled since the age of five from an illness." He became a Christian in 1993 and soon “a very well-known 'house church' planter and preacher in several provinces around Anhui province,.
He reportedly printed and distributed Bibles and other Christian literature to fellow believers free of charge to meet the rapid growth of believers.
Experts most of the estimated 80-million Christians in China prefer to worship in ‘house churches’, in homes of believers, as they do not want to gather in the official, Communist-backed, Protestant or Catholic congregations.
Legal experts say this is the third known case in which the Chinese government uses “a criminal business related charge” against a house church pastor. April 26 this year Pastor Liu Yuhua from Shandong Province was arrested on similar charges, rights watchers said.
Last year Beijing Pastor Cai Zhuohua was sentenced to three years imprisonment for printing Christian literature. “The Chinese government tries to persecute religious leaders by criminalizing their religious activities,” CAA said. Li Baiguang, a prominent legal scholar on constitutional law has volunteered to be Pastor Wang’s lawyer. Li met with President George W. Bush on May 11 in the White House along with two other house church representatives.
In a reaction, former house church pastor Bob Fu of CAA told BosNewsLife that the latest action "reveals the hypocritical nature of the so-called Bible Exhibition tour in the United States" which he claimed was “sponsored by the Chinese government." His group has urged the Chinese government to immediately release Pastor Wang and return the property confiscated from his house.
Chinese officials were not immediately reacting to the latest reports, but previously strongly denied human rights abuses, saying they are observing the rule of law.