For background on Orthodox Christianity in China, see here.
For previous ChristianPersecution.com coverage of the persecution of Christians in China, see here.
“Armed Police Demolish Nangang Church Overnight,” China Aid, January 13, 2023:
(Wenzhou, China – January 13, 2023) On the evening of January 11, the Ruian County government of Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province forcibly demolished the Nangang Church, located in Nangang Village, Feiyun Street, to build commercial buildings. The church covered an area of 8 acres. A church worth tens of millions of RMB was ordered to be demolished at night without an agreed compensation plan.
HOW POLICE DEMOLISHED THE CHURCH
Two videos of the forced demolition were circulated on the Internet. One of the videos showed that it was raining in Wenzhou that night. Dozens of police stood fully armed, wearing helmets, masks, police uniforms, and raincoats, confronting Christians.
A young female Christian calmly asked the demolition team questions. “I want to ask which construction unit you are from. Why are you covering your face? Why isn’t anyone tell me which construction unit you are from? Why are you choosing to come here at nine o’clock in the evening? Why are you choosing to start the demolition at this time, and you are not telling me which unit you belong to? Just now when I was about to go in, you pushed me and beat me.”
CLASH WITH CHRISTIANS
Another video showed several policemen surrounding Christians who came to stop the demolition of church. The video showed that the police had a physical confrontation with these Christians. One of the female witnesses can be heard yelling loudly, “They are beating people! They are beating people! They are arresting people!” An elderly woman can be heard crying. Another male Christian asked sharply, “Who gave you power [to demolish the church]?! Who gave you power?!”
The large cranes continued to work for several hours, and the forced demolition lasted from the first night to the next day. A video captures the moment the church was toppled. The walls and windows of the entire building were cracked. Bricks and tiles poured down. The beautiful large church was instantly reduced to rubble. Its cross fell to the ground with the collapse of the church and drowned in a cloud of ashes.
Zhang Chongzhu, the former pastor of Pingyang County, Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province, who now lives in the United States, revealed in an interview with Radio Free Asia,
The land used to be a littoral land next to the river. The building was assigned by the government. They [the Christians] used to live in the old church in the town, but they were assigned to this remote area, land that no one wanted. And they built the church there. Because the economic situation of the believers was relatively good, they bought some surrounding land. Ruian’s economy has developed very rapidly in recent years. The land was soon classified as a central zone, and commercial buildings were expected to be built there. The local government negotiated with the church to move the church to another place. However, according to the current market price, the price of the building and land on that site is valued at around 30 million to 40 million (~$4.4-$6 million). But the government is only willing to give 10 million (~$1.5 million). So when the negotiation failed, the government resorted to its previous typical methods: by (hiring) security companies and social personnel to block the place and forcibly demolish it.
WENZHOU’S CHRISTIAN POPULATION
Wenzhou, Zhejiang is one of the cities with the densest concentration of Christians in China. The number of Christians in the city exceeds one million, and there are more than a thousand officially registered churches. From February 2014 to January 2016, Xia Baolong, Secretary of the Zhejiang Provincial Party Committee, ordered the demolition of crosses in churches across the province. In April 2014, the demolition of Sanjiang Christian Church in Wenzhou shocked China and the world. Within two years, more than 1,000 churches had their crosses removed by the government.
RESISTANCE TO PERSECUTION
When the government forcibly demolished church crosses, many Christians strongly resisted. Pastor Gu Yuese, then president of the Zhejiang Christian Association, issued a public statement: he opposed the government’s forcible demolition of church crosses. This eventually led to his incarceration. But the authorities later dropped the charges against him. The opposition to the demolition of crosses also resulted in the forced disappearance of nearly 20 preachers from Wenzhou for half a year.
The demolition of crosses in Wenzhou has never stopped. Only recently, on the night of January 15, 2021, four crosses were secretly removed in Longwan District, Wenzhou City. Some church crosses were removed for the second time in recent years….