Chinese Christian reading the Bible

The father of a U.S. citizen, who has been working to publish Christian books in China, has become one of the Communist nation’s “disappeared” persons, according to friends who have confirmed information about the family’s dire situation.

The police have not released information about the detention of Weihan Shi, 37, a businessman who works as a travel agent and recently got government permission to publish some Christian book titles, according to a close friend, American businessman Ray Sharpe.

He told WND the Chinese government has been asked to look into the situation, and the U.S. embassy is inquiring because the man’s daughter, Grace Shi, 7, is a U.S. citizen, and has been forced into hiding with her Chinese mother and 11-year-old sister.

Sharpe, who said he’s been able to confirm information about the family because he lived for a number of years in China, told WND Shi is a life-long resident of Beijing, but was arrested “in his Christian literature bookstore in a high-class business tower near the Olympics Village.”

He said Shi’s younger brother and Shi’s wife, Jing Zhang, also were taken into custody but were released after questioning.

The family’s home also was raided at 5 a.m. on Nov. 28 by members of the Beijing Public Security Bureau, Sharpe told WND. Officers confiscated Christian literature from the home, the family’s company office, and the bookstore, he said.

He said it’s feared that the detention may be part of China’s crackdown on Christianity in preparation for the 2008 Olympic Games to be held there.

And raising concerns to a higher level is the fact that police at the Haidian District Substation not only “refused to tell the family where Shi is being held, they also would not tell them what he is being charged with, essentially denying him any possibility of legal defense,” he said.

He has become one of the “disappeared,” in China, in apparent violation of “The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance,” a United Nations convention to which China has submitted.

As the detention passed a week, Sharpe told WND, the family became concerned because Shi has diabetes and needs medication.

“The Haidian officers have also refused to allow the family to take Mr. Shi’s diabetic medicine to him. There has been no proof or assurance to the family regarding his medical condition,” a statement released about the situation said. “Deprivation and torture tactics are often used by the PSB in their notorious detention centers to force those being held to reveal information about others.”

The daughter, Grace, is an American citizen because she was born during the family’s visit to the U.S. in 2000. She and her older sister, “Lily,” “are reportedly terrified for their mother and father’s safety after witnessing the raid on their home,” Sharpe said.

He told WND publishing Christian material is a “rarity” in China, but his friend recently had gotten permission from various authors, and had translated several books.

Sharpe told WND he is convinced, “China will not tolerate one dissident voice during the Olympics.”

WND already has reported on China’s Olympic blacklist. A man who escaped from China after being imprisoned for teaching Bible classes and now runs an organization to help persecuted Christians is confirming the nation will target 43 types of people with investigations – and possibly bans – when the 2008 Olympics are held.

And those targeted will include “religious infiltrators,” employees of media organizations, those tied to “illegal” religious organizations and others, the report said.

China Aid Association, run by Bob Fu, says the information comes from a “secretly issued” notice from China’s Ministry of Public Security that went to security officials and departments throughout the nation.

“CAA learned from reliable internal Chinese government sources that in April of 2007, the Ministry of Public Security of the Chinese government issued a general nation-wide order, requiring strict examinations on all people both in China and overseas who will participate in the Olympic Games,” the organization said. “These include members of the Olympic Committee, athletes, media and sponsors. With this, they also provide a list of 43 types of people in 11 categories to be barred from attending the Olympic Games.”

The document, a “Notice on Strict Background Check on Applicants for the Olympic Games and the Test Events,” targets those who are considered “antagonistic elements,” followers of Falun Gong and other “cults,” as well as “religious extremists and religious infiltrators.”

Other categories include media employees “who can harm the Olympic Games,” non-government organizations that “pose a real threat to the Olympic Games,” those with grievances against the communist party, those under investigation by Chinese authorities, as well as “terrorists” and “members of illegal organizations.”

The report, China Aid Association said, lists among the targets anyone who belongs to an independent house church in China, which are identified as “illegal religious organizations” and those who have given “illegal sermons.”

Also targeted and banned will be “people who illegally distribute religious publications and video-audio materials” and “people who have illegally established both in China and abroad religious organizations, institutions, schools, sermon sites and other religious entities.”

“While CAA understands the legitimate security concern during Olympics, nevertheless we urge the Chinese government to be more transparent regarding the preparation of [the] 2008 Beijing Olympics,” CAA said. “We call upon the Chinese government not to use Olympics as a cover to engage [in a] crackdown on peaceful people of faith both in China and abroad.”

The warning about the investigations came just after China heatedly repudiated a media report that Bibles were being banned from the housing complexes for athletes during the 2008 Games.

The officials, who have expelled dozens for Christian missionaries in an apparent crackdown on Christianity in advance of the 2008 Beijing Games, called the report a “total rumor.”

“The Chinese government has not come up with any such rule,” said spokesman Liu Jianchao.

However, the official website for the 2008 Games has held a warning that visitors should not bring more than a single Bible with them.

WND previously has reported on China’s apparent crackdown on Christians and Christianity in advance of the 2008 Games, including the expulsion of more than 100 foreign Christians in China in just a 90-day period, the biggest assault on the presence of Christianity in China since 1954.

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