Authorities in Wenzhou, China continue to remove crosses from churches in the region. The latest round of cross removals began overnight on January 15, when authorities tore down crosses at four churches in the city, including Yongzhong Street Canghe Church in Longwan District. Then early morning February 1, the cross was removed from Wenzhou’s Shuixin X’tian Church.
According to Voice of the Martyrs Korea representative Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, local government officials hired crane operators to demolish the crosses.
This wasn’t the first time the crosses had been forcibly removed from these churches. “Officials previously removed the cross of Canghe Church on June 30, 2014,” says Representative Foley. “Later, the church quietly installed a much smaller cross. But now even that cross has been torn down. Shuixin X’tian Church also had its cross torn down by authorities in 2014.”
Map of Whenzhou, Zhejiang Province, China
Representative Foley says that on January 16, members of Canghe Church filed a report with the local public security bureau stating that their church cross had been stolen. In response, Wenzhou Public Security Bureau’s Longwan District branch issued the notice, “The stolen cross of Canghe Church does not fall under the jurisdiction of this public security bureau. The public safety organs will not be handling the investigation.”
Representative Foley says that this newest wave of cross removals has not caught pastors in Wenzhou by surprise. “Previously, Wenzhou Pastor Yan Xiaojie had posted on social media, ‘The evil wave will re-emerge in 2021.’ He wrote, ‘Again, there is forced demolishment, illegal demolishment, indiscriminate demolishment, demolishment at night.’ And indeed, these latest cross removals happened in the darkness.”
Authorities in Wenzhou, China removed the cross at Yongzhong Street Canghe Church in an overnight raid on January 15.
Authorities use a crane to remove the cross from 100-yr-old Shuixin X’tian Church on February 1.
Representative Foley notes that both Yongzhong Canghe Church and Shuixin X’tian Church have long histories. “Official records show that both churches are more than a century old,” she said. The Christian population is Wenzhou is reported to be more than one million, with the number of officially registered churches more than one thousand.
Cross removal in Wenzhou enters its seventh year this month, says Representative Foley. “From February 2014 to January 2016, Xia Baolong, the Zhejiang provincial secretary, issued the order to remove all crosses in the province. In April 2014, authorities removed the cross from Wenzhou Sanjiang Christian Church and several other churches. Thousands of worshippers camped out around the church to protest the demolition. Within two years, authorities forcibly removed crosses from more than one thousand churches, and there were 20 forced disappearances of ministers from Wenzhou in one six–month period. These two recent overnight raids on the crosses of these five churches shows that cross removal is not a thing of the past. We need to be diligent to stand with and pray for the churches of Wenzhou and all across China.”
A copy of the notice Wenzhou Public Security Bureau’s Longwan District branch issued regarding the “stolen” cross.