A black iron sheet was used to hide the cross on the main entrance to a government-controlled Catholic church that belongs to the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association in Xikeng, Zhejiang.
The Pingyang County government declared that the cross on the Xikeng Church was too conspicuous and at 2 p.m. on June 10, sent over a dozen workers who used a black iron sheet to cover up the cross and put black iron frames over the two bell towers on the roof. The workers were ordered to hide with large lanterns the Chinese characters meaning “God bless” above the church entrance.
An eyewitness stated that the giant black iron sheet attached to the church’s outer wall does not match the architectural style of the church and looks unattractive and unsettling. Passersby shake their heads and sigh when they see how the church has been tarnished, and members of the church are frustrated and depressed. One member of the church stated that the government is killing them with an invisible knife and that the covering of the cross is much worse than if they had taken it down.
Even state-endorsed churches that belong to the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association face the same persecution by the government as underground churches. In May of 2014, the cross of the Catholic church in Taoyuan township, Pingyang County was covered up with cloth, and the Catholic church in Jian’ao village, Qiancang town of Pingyang County was demolished. In September of 2015, in Pingyang County alone, crosses from over a hundred churches were torn down, including many that belong to the Patriotic Association.
Reported by Lin Yijiang
Lin Yijiang (uses pseudonyms for security reasons), whose ancestral hometown is Hangzhou, Zhejiang, lived in Spain with his family at a young age. His father is a human rights activist. Under his father’s influence, Lin Yijiang also began actively following human rights conditions in countries around the world, especially China’s harsh persecution of human rights. In 2016, in order to gain a deeper understanding of the persecuted groups in China, Lin returned to his hometown and became a freelance journalist, giving a voice to persecuted groups. He joined Bitter Winter in 2018 and became a special correspondent covering Zhejiang Province, Jiangxi Province, and some other regions.