A video posted by Radio Free Asia’s (RFA) Chinese service shows construction machines and workers in the southeastern province of Zhejiang removing the crosses from multiple churches.
This January, at least 18 crosses have been removed in the city of Wenzhou, the latest batch to be taken down since the communist authorities began targeting Christian symbols throughout the province last year. Hundreds of churches have been affected since last May.
The latest regime sweep has also nabbed members of the local clergy. Six church workers and their lawyer, Zhang Kai, remain in detention at the time of reporting on Feb. 2.
“Those who commit dark deeds will meet with retribution in the future,” one Christian wrote on Chinese social media. “The storm continues across the entire province!”
Zhejiang and the metropolis of Wenzhou, located on the prosperous Chinese coast, has a relatively large population of Chinese Christians. About 1.5 million or over two percent of the province’s 50 million people practice Christianity.
In China, Christianity is one of the five legal religions recognized by the officially atheist Communist Party. However, the only legal form of Protestantism is the Patriotic Three-Self Church, widely criticized as a mechanism for state control over the Christian faith. Independent “house church” Christians suffer persecution by the authorities, including torture and detention in labor camps.
RFA’s report includes an interview with a Chinese Christian, Guo Yongfeng, who is from Shenzhen in Guangdong, southern China. He says that Christians’ inability to stand up for each makes it easier to repress them.
“We are isolated,” Guo told RFA. “Once they crack down, we can’t get much help.”