One of the biggest churches in China’s Guizhou province is coming under increasing pressure from the authorities.

Huoshi Church in Guiyang, which has around 300 members, was raided by police during the opening ceremony of its new venue in commercial premises, attended by hundreds of guests, including several foreigners.

The high-profile church was forced to close and the pastor, Yang Hua, was detained. The church has since reopened but is being placed under pressure to register as a state-sanctioned church.

“Guizhou is definitely one of the tighter regions in China,” said a spokesperson for the charity Open Doors International, who did not wish to be named. “The government officials invite the church leaders for ‘tea’ meetings more often. They use these meetings to find out what is happening at the church. Sometimes, they discourage the church from conducting training activities. They also register the name of people attending the church at the entrance, as a soft threat. Functioning as a church in China continues to be a delicate balancing act.”