BEIJING — Chinese authorities have dismissed a Christian reporter after he posted comments on the Internet denouncing the destruction of a church in the country's east, the reporter said on Monday. Zan Aizong, bureau chief of the Zhejiang office of the China Ocean News newspaper, recently converted to Christianity and was baptised in July. He denounced his dismissal as a blow to freedom.
“The authorities are doing whatever they can to crack down on reporters who dare to tell the truth,” Zan told Reuters. “They deprived me of my freedom some days ago, and now they are taking away my job”.
Earlier this month, Zan said he was detained for a week on charges of “spreading rumours harmful to society” in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province, after issuing reports on the Internet, criticising the demolition of a nearby church.
On July 29, as many as 3,000 local Christians and police clashed over the demolition of the church, which officials said was torn down because those constructing it had not first obtained required permits.
The dispute has become a focus for dissident Chinese Christians who reject the ruling Communist Party's limits on religious practices.
China has maintained tight controls over reporters and requires them to accept the Party's control of information and opinion.
Zan was released from detention on Aug. 18, but on Monday he received written notice from his newspaper that he had been fired. The notice was dated Aug. 15.
China's press censorship watchdog, the General Administration of Press and Publication, demanded his dismissal, Zan said.
“They said I am not suitable to be a reporter,” he said, adding that no Chinese media would be willing to hire him.