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Church leaders freed
after U.S. pressure

Chinese communist authorities arrested 50 house church leaders from more than 20 provinces at a retreat in Hebei Province, but according to a report, all were released today after pressure from U.S. officials.

As WorldNetDaily reported earlier today, some of the Christians were beaten during the Oct. 20 raid by Public Security Bureau officers of the city of Baoding and government religious affairs officials, reported China Aid Association.

According to an eyewitness report, the leaders, from independent house churches outside government control, planned to discuss how to help the poor, orphaned and floating population in urban areas.

China Aid reported today that after 25 hours of house arrest, all of the leaders were released.

According to a reliable source from a high-level government agency, the release was ordered from the Chinese central government because of increasing international pressure on this case, China Aid said.

After China Aid released news of the arrest yesterday, an aide of Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., at the House International Relations Committee contacted the State Department to urge action.

China Aid said a digital camera, cell phone and cash were confiscated without receipt by Chinese police.

All of the leaders were forced to sign their names, ID numbers and were finger printed.

One of the arrested, Dai Hong, a 35-year-old law school graduate, said she was taken to a single room on the second floor and beaten by two male policemen because she demanded to see their police IDs before she provided her ID.

China Aid points out, however, that the request is in accordance with Chinese law.

The arrested pastors said farewell to their guards with worship music, China Aid said.

Pastor Zhang Mingxuan, the last leader released, was interrogated for 28 hours in a hotel. He apparently took the opportunity to share his faith, causing one tired interrogator to say, “Man, you preach too hard!”

“The relatively quick release of these church leaders is certainly a welcomed step in the right direction.” says Bob Fu, the president of China Aid Association. “The arbitrarily arrest of innocent citizens and illegal detention are contradictory to international human rights norms. Those officials who abuse its power by beating innocent people should be held accountable.”

Zhang previously was detained prior to President Bush’s trip to China in February 2002.

“It is no coincident that this kind of incident should happen again before President Bush’s upcoming visit to China next month.” Fu said.

The vast majority of Christians in China, perhaps as many as 100 million, are part of the unregistered church. 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. Catholics, forbidden contact with the Vatican, are required to submit to a similar organization.

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