Police stations in a city in northeast China are having their performance evaluated according to the number of Christians they arrest, says religious-liberty magazine Bitter Winter.
A police officer from Dalian, a port city in Liaoning Province, near the North Korean border, told the magazine that his station had received a notice from the National Security Bureau which, as part of a performance-assessment plan, set out how many Christians they would have to arrest. The officer said that all stations in the city had received a similar plan, assessing the station’s performance with a 100-point evaluation system.
Senior police officers risk losing their job if quotas are not met, the officer told Bitter Winter, adding that he did not want to arrest Christians but feared the consequences if he failed to do so.
In order to reach their quotas, stations are trading with each other, “buying” names of arrested Christians for approximately 500 RMB (around US$70) from other stations that have already achieved their targets, according to the officer.
Under President Xi Jinping, China’s government has sought to increase control over religious affairs, with the introduction in February of revised regulations.
Two weeks ago a church in Zhengzhou, in central Henan province, was raided, as reported by ChinaAid. More than 10 police officers reportedly entered the church, outnumbering the small group of Christians who were holding a service, and ordered it to close.
Earlier in November, an “underground” bishop, Peter Shao Zhumin of the coastal city of Wenzhou in Zhejiang province, was reported by Asia News to have been taken away by police for “interrogation and indoctrination”.
Meanwhile members of one of the oldest Catholic parishes in Shanxi province, north China, have been holding services outside their church since it was closed in July. The local authorities claimed the building had become unsafe. However, according to Bitter Winter the church had filed for permission to rebuild last year but had not yet received approval.
“The government is using deceitful means to prevent believers from worshiping. They won’t let us use the old church, and they won’t approve a new one. Many churches have already been demolished in Henan Province,” a church member told Bitter Winter.
In September the Vatican and China reached a deal in the long-standing dispute over the appointment of bishops, yet clergymen have since been under increased pressure to join the state-approved Patriotic Catholic Association, according to Bitter Winter. Many of them have resisted because the association “is a group that completely and blindly follows the Party and whose political nature is extremely pronounced – it’s a political tool”, a priest from Zhengding diocese, in China’s northern Hebei province, told the magazine.