Chinese authorities in the north-western region of Xinjiang have banned all Christian activities not linked to state-approved churches, apparently in an “anti-terror” move.
Zhu Xiaohu, a house-church member from the city of Wusu, was one of six Christians recently fined 1,000 yuan ($145). Their Bibles were also confiscated.
“They want us to join the [state-sponsored] Three-Self association, but we told them we couldn’t because we don’t understand their services,” Zhu told Radio Free Asia. “We just got together by ourselves for prayer, preaching, and discussion. There was nobody else. But they said we were breaking the law, and wouldn’t allow it.”
A house-church member in the Ili Kazakh prefecture added: “We don’t dare gather for worship now… The police are saying it’s part of terrorism prevention in Xinjiang, and that they won’t allow gatherings of even a few people.”
One hundred million yuan ($14.5m) will be distributed amongst those who provide “anti-terror tips”, state media reported, as Chinese police staged mass “anti-terror” rallies across Xinjiang.
A resident of the Aksu prefecture, near the Kyrgyzstan border, said Christians have been warned they’ll be “charged with illegal assembly” and “locked up”.
“It is now banned right across our whole region, including Korla and Aksu,” the resident said. “If we meet we have to do it in secret.”