Wang Zhaogang (pseudonym, 53) was a co-worker in the Local Church and owned his own factory in the Lanshan District of Shandong Province’s Linyi city. In June 2014, the police closed down his factory under a pretext of conducting a tax inspection. While searching the factory, they found nearly 4,000 spiritual books that Wang Zhaogang was storing for the church, and subsequently arrested him for the crime of “believing in xie jiao and printing and dissemination its literature.” The Chinese government calls xie jiao religious movements, the teachings of which are listed by the government as “heterodox” in a periodically updated list. They put him into a detention center after interrogation.
In the detention center, the police encouraged other prisoners to torture Wang Zhaogang by not allowing him to sleep for seven consecutive days and nights. Different people took turns in tormenting him, bringing him to the point of unspeakable misery.
In the end, the court sentenced him to four years, and he was transferred to a prison to serve his time. His family could not accept the verdict and hired a lawyer from Beijing to sue, but the court refused to accept the case and then transferred him to another prison for the rest of his sentence.
Wang Zhaogang was released ahead of time on December 22, 2017, but has still been under constant police surveillance, without a shred of personal freedom. An informed source revealed that the moment the police could not locate him, they called his friends and relatives inquiring about his whereabouts, to their great annoyance.
In April 2018, Wang Zhaogang went to Pingyi County to visit his relatives and was recognized by an employee at the station when he used his identification to buy a ticket. The employee immediately notified the village committee leaders who brought him back.
On May 13, three officers with the local police station once again barged into Wang Zhaogang’s mother’s home to ask about him and his whereabouts. She could no longer bear their nonstop harassment and told them, “My son just believes in God and was keeping spiritual books for other people. You insisted that he believed in a xie jiao and sentenced him to four years. He’s been released, and you’re still coming nearly every day. How are we supposed to live our lives?” An officer said threateningly, “If we don’t find your son ourselves we’ll come back!”
An acquaintance of Wang Zhaogang said that he felt as if he was in prison without walls because of the police’s frequent visits, harassment, and questioning of him and his loved ones, and this causes him great pain.
The Local Church is an international Evangelical Christian group founded in China in the 1930s. In China, members are known as the “Shouters,” for their practice of calling the name of the Lord out loud.
More from my site
Bitter Winter plans to report on how religions are allowed, or not allowed, to operate in China and how some are severely persecuted after they are labeled as “xie jiao,” or heterodox teachings. We plan to publish news difficult to find elsewhere, analyses, and debates.
Placed under the editorship of Massimo Introvigne, one of the most well-known scholars of religion internationally, “Bitter Winter” is a cooperative enterprise by scholars, human rights activists, and members of religious organizations persecuted in China (some of them have elected, for obvious reasons, to remain anonymous).