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China deports U.S. church leaders

China deported at least 10 foreign church leaders, including eight Americans, and detained 140 Chinese house-church leaders in connection with a training event in the country.

More than 100 security officers from five government agencies raided an office building where the Christians were meeting Feb. 24 in a suburb of Harbin, a major city in northeastern China, the China Aid Association reported.

“To disrupt a normal Christian fellowship meeting and to detain and deport the participants of the same faith from other countries is certainly contrary to the government’s claim to guarantee religious freedom in China,” said China Aid’s president, Bob Fu.

The Chinese leaders are part of the unregistered church movement to which the vast majority of Christians in the country belong. The communist government requires all Protestant church activity to be under control of the official Three-Self Patriotic Movement, which restricts activities such as evangelism and certain teachings.

The foreigners were interrogated separately and, after 13 hours, were ordered to leave the country within three to five days. The Chinese church leaders were interrogated and released after they gave their home addresses, finger prints and house church affiliations.

Among the deported are American church leaders Rev. Dr. Brad Long, executive director of Presbyterian Reformed Ministries International in North Carolina; and Rev. John Chang, recently retired as president of the general assembly of Reformed Church and now senior pastor of the Grace Christian Church in Flushing, N.Y.

China Aid said the interrogators were said to be well-behaved after the U.S. Consulate in Shenyang City intervened.

According to China Aid’s source, some spying devices were installed into the laptop computers carried by the deportees. A source also said the Public Security Bureau confiscated from the pastors the equivalent of about $2,500 cash along with their cell phones.

Separately, the Texas-based group said it has learned from an eyewitness that imprisoned Beijing house-church pastor Zhuohua Cai was tortured for a confession with electric cattle prods by his interrogators.

The eyewitness told China Aid that Cai was seen physically wounded and spiritually depressed.

“We urge people of all faiths to take action to protest the deportations of these pastors and demand pastor Cai and his wife’s immediate release,” Fu said.

Cai, 34, was arrested Sept. 11 in Beijing for printing “illegal religious literatures.”

In addition, Cai’s wife, Yunfei Xiao, along with her brother, Gaowen Xiao, and sister-in-law, Jinyun Hu, were arrested Sept. 27 while hiding in Hengshan County, Hunan province.

The Cais left a 5-year old son Yabo Cai in the care of his grandmother, who has been constantly harassed by the police, China Aid said.

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