China's Religious Persecution

Article excerpt

One man was beaten to death and 90 worshippers arrested in China's northeastern province of Heilongjian during a crackdown on an underground Protestant church, AsiaNews reported on May 19. Li Shixiong, chairman of the U.S.-based Committee for Investigation on Persecution of Religion in China, said Communist Chinese officials declared the Three Grades of Servant church to be illegal and "evil" as early as 1999, and have been trying to stamp it out. The church claims to have several million members.

The committee says the church's spiritual leader, Xu Shuang-fu, has been abducted and is being held by police. The group said Mr. Xu was abducted by people driving a police jeep as he was making his way to Harbin airport on April 17. Chinese officials deny abducting the religious leader and claim to have no knowledge of the case. The committee said 90 other church members were arrested after Mr. Xu's abduction. Meanwhile, another church member, Gu Xianggao, 28, died in the custody of Harbin police on April 26. Officers initially told his family that he had been detained on suspicion of robbery and murder, according to his sister, Gu Xiangyan. But she said that when family members traveled to Harbin early this month, they were told he had been arrested for being a member of the church.

On May 18, the U.S.-based Cardinal Kung Foundation announced that police had arrested two underground Roman Catholic priests on May 14 in Communist China's Hebei province. The religious rights organization is named for the heroic Ignatius Cardinal Kung, who was imprisoned by the Communists for more than 30 years. The organization's announcement said that Father Lu Genjun, age 42, and Father Cheng Xiaoli, age 40, were arrested as they were about to attend classes on family planning and moral theology. …