Chinese Bible owners arrested, sent to labor camps

The much-vaunted reforms don’t seem to have reached this province yet:

Villagers in southern China’s Guangxi province accused local police on Tuesday of arresting Bible owners and sentencing them to labour camps as part as a campaign to weed out “illegal religious organisations“.

Written testimony supplied to AFP by villagers in Xilin county accused up to 40 policemen of descending on Christian villages in the middle of the night and ransacking homes in search of Bibles and other religious materials.

Official arrest documents also show that following their detention three people from Weishan and Tianbao villages were sentenced without trial to 18 months in a labour camp run by the Nanning Glass Factory in the provincial capital.

Actually, it seems to be an equal-opportunity crackdown, with similar incidents taking place against “illegal religious organisations” in three other provinces. The article says the wave of crackdowns began after Hu Jintao had completed his transition to power in March.

So much for Hu ushering in a new era of measurable reforms.

[Link via Radio Free China.]

The Discussion: 2 Comments

There’s got to be more going on here. It’s not illegal to be Christian in China, and it’s not illegal to own a bible. Quite the opposite in fact … Christianity is in fact two of five official state religions (Catholicism is counted separately as a different religion). My last visit to Beijing I saw bibles being sold quite openly in a market. What is illegal, and gets Chinese officials really worked up, is religion outside of state supervision. Thus the “underground” churches which tend to be of a more evangelistic nature are pretty brutally suppressed, and such people are carted off to thought reform camps, etc. History has taught the Chinese again and again the underground religion is one of the primary elements of a revolutionary movement, and they’re determined to suppress it. After all, if they weren’t revolutionary, they would join the state church, wouldn’t they? This also explains the government reaction to Falan Gong.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not for a moment saying I think they are right or good to behave in this way. I just want to point out that the usual stuff you read in foreign media about the treatment of religion in China is just nonsense which doesn’t understand the issues and causes of what is going on. Chinese government actions are presented as illogical and evil … the actions of an incomprehensible regime … but this isn’t the case. Their actions are based upon logic and the lessons of history. “Religion” as such isn’t the target … it is, as the article says, “illegal religious organisations.” I’m quite prepared to debate this issue, taking the Chinese government side, for the sole purpose of trying to get people to understand the other point of view more clearly. Any takers?

Just call me “Devil’s Advocate”. ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t believe you can understand (and defeat) an opposing argument until you are capable of putting yourself in their shoes and arguing why they’re right.

November 26, 2003 @ 1:59 pm | Comment

It’s true, there is probably more here than meets the eye. Christianity per se is not illegal in China, although all underground versions of Christianity (and all other religions) are. So my guess is that these were underground practitioners. That’s still religious persecution, an area in which the Chinese government has an outstanding track record.

November 26, 2003 @ 2:44 pm | Comment

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