China jails Christian pastor for 9 years on subversion charges
A well-known Chinese pastor who was under detention for a year has been sentenced to nine years in prison for inciting subversion of state power and illegally running a business.
Wang Yi, a founding pastor of China’s Early Rain Covenant Church in the city of Chengdu in southwestern Sichuan province was among several church members picked up in overnight raids last year.
Wang’s church is unregistered, and is one of the famous “house churches” that operate in China, which requires places of worship including mosques and Buddhist temples to register with the government.
The Chengdu Intermediate People’s Court released its judgment on Monday, saying the pastor was also convicted of illegal business operations.
According to the statement posted on the website of the Chengdu court, Wang has also been deprived of his political rights for three years and 50,000 yuan (£5,460/US$7,160) of his personal property was confiscated.
China officially recognizes five religions: Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Taoism and Islam.
Official statistics say China has 200 million religious followers of which around 20 million are Muslims.
According to a government policy paper released in April 2018, Catholicism and Protestantism have 6 million and 38 million followers in China, respectively, with 8,000 and 57,000 clerical personnel.
The same policy paper said there are 6,000 Catholic churches and places of assembly spread across 98 dioceses, and 60,000 Protestant churches and places of assembly,
The actual figures of followers of Christianity is said to be much higher.
In 2010, the Pew Research Centre calculated some 68 million Christians in China; other estimates put the number between 100 and 130 million.
Critics say it’s the under-the-surface and fast-spreading popularity of Christianity that leads to the Communist Party of China (CPC)-led government to carry out periodic crackdowns against the religion including the shutting down of churches and detaining church leaders.
The Holy See, in fact, has declared the Chinese-government approved Catholic Patriotic Association’s method of appointing bishops ‘incompatible with the Catholic doctrine’.
At the same time, however, the Vatican and the Chinese authorities have been negotiating over the system of appointing bishops and said to have reached a provisional agreement.
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