China: Three-Self Church fined over selling Bibles; Early Rain Covenant Church pastor's case investigation concludes


Date:                  July 21, 2019


Wang Yi
(Photo: ChinaAid)

(Nanping, Fujian—July 21, 2019) Authorities gave a Christian association in Nanping, Fujian province an administrative penalty notice for selling Bibles and was commanded to stop as part of an expanding and escalating crackdown on Christian churches. In the meantime, the Chengdu Municipal Procuratorate has concluded its investigation of Pastor Wangyi of Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, Sichuan, who has been charged with inciting subversion of state power and illegal business operations and been unable to confer with his lawyer for the seven months he has been imprisoned.

According to the notice of administrative penalty issued by Nanping authorities, on the afternoon of February 26, 2019, law enforcement officers inspected the bookstore of the Nanping Municipal Christianity Association in person, finding that the venue sold books. However, they deemed that the venue didn’t have the proper license, so law enforcement officers issued a rectification order notice, ordering them to stop the business.

On April 22, the Nanping Municipal Culture and Tourism Bureau filed a case regarding Nanping Municipal Christianity Association’s bookselling and has been investigating whether or not they have done so without approval. Through investigation, it was learned that Pastor Sun Renfu is in charge of the Nanping Municipal Christianity Association and oversees its business. The investigation concluded that the bookstore had sold 253 Bibles without the permit, in addition to other published items. The revenue from the business, which the authorities termed “illegal,” is 9,234 yuan ($1,342.49 USD); the profit is 1,332 yuan ($193.65 USD), and the illegal proceeds are 627 yuan ($91.16 USD) after taking out 705 yuan ($102.50 USD) for shipping and other costs.

The Nanping Municipal Culture and Tourism Bureau claimed that the Nanping Municipal Christianity Association violated the Publication Management Regulations. As a result, the authorities decided to confiscate 15 copies of published materials along with the 627 yuan ($91.16 USD) deemed illegal proceeds and give them a 10,000 yuan ($1,453.85 USD) fine.

Additionally, in Chengdu, Sichuan, Chengdu Municipal Procuratorate has informed the lawyer of Wang Yi, pastor Chengdu’s Early Rain Covenant Church who was seized on Dec. 9, that investigation on the case regarding Wang Yi’s inciting subversion of state power and illegal business operation charges concluded on July 14. Nevertheless, the lawyer hasn’t seen Wang Yi to this day.

Zhang Peihong, Pastor Wang’s lawyer, said on July 17 that he applied to visit Wang at the Chengdu Detention Center, but the receptionist said Wang wasn’t present and that Zhang should go to the Chengdu Municipal Procuratorate. Two procurators of the Chengdu Municipal Procuratorate told Zhang Peihong that two procurators saw Wang on July 16 and said that Wang Yi “looked like he was losing weight, but looked very good mentally.” They also pointed out that it was a rumor circulating among people that his hair has turned grey and he lost teeth.

Regarding the church’s Elder Li Yingqiang and Deacon Tan Defu, who are still under custody, procurators said that they didn’t know any details about their situations.

Jiang Rong, Wang wife who was accused of “inciting subversion of state power,” was released on bail after six months of being held under “residential surveillance,” a common term used by officials to denote being held away from home in a location that is not an official prison. Zhang said that no updates about Jiang and her son, Wang Shuya, are available at this point.

On Dec. 9, more than 100 attendees of Early Rain Covenant Church were detained and questioned. Wang’s arrest was formalized on Dec. 14. So far, five people of Early Rain Covenant Church, including Wang, are still in custody.
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