China: 600 Christians Sentenced in 2021

November 3, 2021

The Chinese government continues its efforts to transform Christianity into a tool of the state. China offers yet another instance of the persecution of Christians by governing officials that is unfortunately on the increase not only in China, but in all too many other nations around the world.

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in China, see here.

“600 Church of Almighty God Members Sentenced in 2021,” by Wang Yichi, Bitter Winter, November 3, 2021:

Since the CCP started carrying out a 3-year “Final Solution” plan against The Church of Almighty God (CAG) last September, the persecution has continuously strengthened. Even common CAG members have been sentenced to penalties as severe as seven years and six months in prison.

Church of Almighty God member dies in prison
On September 25, 2021, the People’s Court of Zhangqiu, a county-level city under the jurisdiction of Jinan city in the eastern province of Shandong, opened the trial against 48 CAG members, who had been detained for more than two years. They were sentenced to penalties of two, three, or more years in prison, including four members under the age of 20 and one 67-year-old devotee. One 80-year-old member was sentenced to two years and four months in prison, and later was allowed to serve her sentence outside the prison.

As readers of Bitter Winter know, reacting to the rapid development of the CAG, the CCP has put it on the list of xie jiao (banned religious movements) since its founding, carrying out a brutal persecution against it. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the CCP did not relax its efforts to crack down on the CAG.

Bitter Winter has learned that the 48 CAG members tried in Zhangqiu were arrested one after another after June 2019. During the following two years or more, the police kept them in pre-trial detention, and deprived them of visits from their relatives. When their relatives went to the detention house and applied for visits, the police not only refused to allow the meetings, but took the opportunity to interrogate the relatives about the faith of the arrested CAG members.

A CAG member from Shandong Province was sentenced to four years in prison this August. Less than two months after her sentence, the local police informed her family that she had died of a heart attack, and urged them to cremate her body immediately. Before cremation, however, the police forbade her family from changing the clothes of the deceased, which would have allowed relatives to examine her body. The real cause of her death remains unknown.

In September, the People’s Court of Qingdao city and that of Shan county under the jurisdiction of Heze city in Shandong Province opened trials against 28 CAG members, among whom 7 were sentenced to three years or more in prison. Up to September 30, 237 CAG members had been sentenced this year in Shandong Province only….

Court records show that the CCP has increased the sentences against CAG members since last year, and even common members (i.e., members who do not have a position as leaders) may be sentenced to seven years or more in prison….

Up to this September, in 2021 600 CAG members had been sentenced for their faith throughout China. Experience makes it easy to predict that, as members of the CAG, they will receive an especially harsh treatment in jail.