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China pulls noose tighter on religious freedom

HONG KONG (SE): The first cross for this year was removed from a Catholic church in Wenzhou diocese, Zhejiang, before dawn on February 25, just two weeks after the director of the provincial office of State Administration of Religious Affairs, Feng Zhili, put out a call for religious stability in the run up to the G20 Summit set to be held in the provincial capital of Hangzhou from September 4 to 5.

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Pushing more Church people underground

BEIJING (UCAN): The Communist Party of China has begun carrying out its threat to assign certificates detailing the secular name, religious name and national ID card number to Buddhist monks across the country; but with one new twist—a unique faith number is also being added.

By the end of this year, authorities will require the same of both Catholic and Taoist priests, state-run broadcaster CCTV and the party-friendly tabloid, Global Times, reported in early February.

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Beijing ups the ante against religious belief

HONG KONG (SE): Leaders of various faith groups have been told by Yu Zhengsheng, a Politburo official, that all religious groups in China must promote Chinese culture and become more compatible with socialism.

UCAN reported Yu as saying that religious leaders are required to form a bridge between the Communist Party and the hundreds of millions of Chinese people that follow the country’s five officially recognised religions—Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, Buddhism and Taoism.

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New Year gift for imprisoned pastor

HONG KONG (SE): Pastor Huang Yizi, who was arrested in September last year on charges of endangering national security when he opposed the removal of crosses from Church buildings in Zhejiang, received a New Year gift when he was released from detention on February 11, during the Lunar New Year holiday period.

Pastor Huang said that he had been kept for five months in what is referred to as a black jail, a place of illegal detention used to house dissidents.

 

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Purging pastors

HANGZHOU (AsiaNews): Chinese state media confirmed that Reverend Joseph Gu Yuese, the pastor of the Chongyi Church in Hangzhou, the largest Protestant community in mainland China, was unceremoniously fired from his position on January 18 and later arrested on charges of embezzlement, but no further details were given.

In an open letter addressed to his congregation, Reverend Gu speaks of a cold storm that is heading for Hangzhou, the provincial capital of Zhejiang.

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Crosses again begin to tumble in Zhejiang

HONG KONG (UCAN): Be it a fresh campaign to remove crosses from Church buildings in Zhejiang or just catch up demolition on the backlog of jobs that were not completed last year, between January 1 and February 2 this year, 18 more Church buildings in the province were stripped of their crosses by government authorities, with 13 of them in the last week of January.

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Church freedom is a mixed bag in China

HIJIAZHUANG (UCAN): When about 10,000 people showed up to a Mass held at the cathedral in Zhengding on December 13 they filled the church compound and overflowed onto the roof of an adjacent building.

Some had travelled the 300 kilometres from Beijing, but the most striking thing was that they were almost all members of the unofficial Church community of China and, despite police presence, no one was detained.

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China’s House Church dilemma

HONG KONG (SE): “Legally registered, Three-Self Patriotic Churches are under attack, while the illegal House Churches are invited into an official dialogue,” David Ro wrote in the January issue of the Lausanne Global Analysis, saying that this appears to be a season of mixed messages from the government of China.

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New law to combat religious extremism

HONG KONG (UCAN): The Minority Muslim Uyghur people in Xinjiang province of China fear further erosion of their freedom to practice their faith after authorities announced plans for a new law to combat religious extremism.

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Vietnam bars thousands from Christmas Mass

HANOI (AsiaNews): Christmas was banned in the Central Highland province of Kontum in Vietnam by government authorities forcing Christmas Mass to be cancelled in at least two parishes and leaving thousands of expectant people both surprised and disappointed.

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