Local authorities decided to stop the building of a church after they sold the land to the congregation and issued all necessary permits.
The construction of a church building that belongs to China’s state-sanctioned Protestant Three-Self Patriotic Movement was forcibly stopped in the town of Chaoyang in the city of Lianyungang. Since February 2016, the local government has taken different measures to prevent the congregation from finishing their church.
Members of the congregation remember that when their old church building became so dilapidated that it was dangerous to meet, they made multiple requests to the local government for a site to build a church. The government has denied their request many times before finally selling the Three-Self church an unwanted lot for RMB 3 million. The construction began on October 12, 2015, after the congregants had obtained the land use and building renovation permits as well as the approval of the development zone administration.
On February 4, 2016, after the frame of the building had already gone up, the township authorities said that the land previously bought by the church had been sold at a high price to someone else and ordered to stop the construction on the grounds of it being illegal. The authorities cut off of the church’s water and electricity supply, suspended the operations of all the plants that supplied cement, sand, and gravel for the church.
Despite these obstructions, congregants rushed to complete the construction, but a special law enforcement unit was sent to the church one day. According to eye-witnesses, some elderly congregants tried to reason with officers, but were hit until they were on the ground, and later taken to a hospital.
After the incident, the local government sent more reinforcement to the construction site and installed cameras to monitor the church: whenever congregants started to work on the church, the government would send people to stop them.
For the past two years, the congregation searched extensively for someone to hear their appeals, but to no avail. They continue to collect money in hopes to finish the construction of their church.
Reported by Deng Changlin