Protestant churches are raided in this southeastern China’s metropolis, as the CCP seeks to eliminate unregistered churches and educational institutions they run.
by An Xin
The Xingguang Church, a house church in Xiamen, a sub-provincial city in the southeastern province of Fujian, was raided on the morning of June 11. Several hundred public security and urban management officers stormed into its venue, set up in a congregant’s residence, without providing any documentation. They forcibly removed desks, chairs, benches, and other church belongings and demolished other property.
Yang Xibo, a house church pastor from Xiamen, posted the operation’s footage online, with a caption, “The demolished building is a private residence, a private apartment. The Property Law is a wasted paper, and the Xiamen government has become a triad [China’s transnational organized crime syndicate]… This is a microcosm of China turning into a triad in recent years.”
It was the second crackdown on the church after it was violently raided on May 3. That day, about 200 police officers, dispatched by the city’s Public Security Bureau, broke into the church and the school it runs, violently beating congregation members. Some believers were injured, six were detained for 12 hours.
A church member told Bitter Winter that after the raid, the police monitored the building where the church was located every day. Sometimes, 20 to 30 police officers stood in two or three rows outside the building, scaring off people. Everyone entering or leaving the building was investigated, asked to complete a visitor’s form, indicating the names of people they were visiting and noting down their ID information and phone number.
“The government removed all online posts about the raid,” the believer added. “My fellow churchgoer was questioned by the local Cyberspace Administration on the phone. Government officials harassed congregation members at home, ordering them to send their children to government-run schools. They said that with each new church, fewer people would believe in the Communist Party. Christianity is a foreign religion for them, and they fear that children exposed to religion will be apt to collude with foreign forces against the state and the Party. We worry that our children will have to become young pioneers and will be indoctrinated with atheism if sent to state-run schools. These schools prevent children from having their thoughts and tell them to only listen to the CCP.”
Xiamen has been an important center for the spread of Christianity in China. It was one of the treaty ports, established by the British in the mid-19th century to encourage foreign trade, where Protestantism grew thanks to missionaries from abroad.
In 2019, at least 40 house churches were shut down in the city, and the schools run by these churches were also severely suppressed. Among them was the Qianpu Church. According to a local Protestant, the government frequently attacks the church because most of its congregation members belong to the middle class, working as teachers, lawyers, aviation employees, and alike, and may influence other members of society.
The authorities shut down the school run by Qianpu Church without a legitimate reason and also thoroughly investigated the church’s landlord, exerting pressure through the person’s relatives and friends. Officials also attempted to stop the landlord from renting to the church through direct intimidation and threats.
“Officials claimed that Christians are counter-revolutionaries, and children studying in church-run schools will grow to oppose the Party,” the believer added. “The government wants all children to accept the Party’s education and grow up under the national flag.”
The Wheat Seed School, run by the Shangli Church in Xiamen, was forcibly closed in late April 2018, after local officials declared that unregistered places of worship could not run educational institutions—it was against China’s religious management regulations. Image 2: The Wheat Seed School in Xiamen was shut down in 2018.