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Cross removals to continue in Chinese city, local official says

Authorities dispel rumors that campaign against Christian churches would stop

ucanews.com reporter, Beijing

ucanews.com reporter, Beijing

Updated: August 12, 2015 03:49 AM GMT
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Cross removals to continue in Chinese city, local official says
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Chinese authorities in Wenzhou will continue to remove church crosses, an official said on Tuesday, denying rumors the campaign had been halted.

Recent talk among pastors and on social media suggesting the 20-month-long campaign was due to end was incorrect, an official with the office coordinating cross removals told the state-run Global Times Aug. 11. 

“We haven't received any notice to halt the campaign,” said the official, who only gave his surname, Wang. “The demolition is still going on and one cross was removed a few days ago.”

In March, Bishop Paul Meng Qinglu of Inner Mongolia told ucanews.com that Beijing had ordered an end to the cross-removal program in Zhejiang a month after Christian Solidarity Worldwide noted it was slowing.

But the campaign soon picked up again: more than 1,200 crosses have now been removed from churches in Zhejiang since the end of 2013.

This morning, users on China's micro-blogging network, Weibo, posted photos of dozens of people protesting the demolition of Yueqing Church on the outskirts of Wenzhou, holding banners that read: “Don't tolerate trampling on our national law.”

The Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau in Rui'an, Wenzhou, suggested on Aug. 11 that recent rumors about the suspension of the campaign may have spread because “officials are busy handling problems caused by Typhoon Soudelor”.

The tropical storm has killed 12 people in Wenzhou since it hit China's eastern coast on Aug. 8 and a major cleanup is now underway. 

Among the dead were two elderly women sleeping on the ground floor of Yangmei Protestant Church. Witnesses said the women were trying to defend the church cross when the building was struck by flash floods.

Wenzhou bore the brunt of this week’s storm, recording 64.5 centimeters of rain falling within 24 hours, the heaviest downpour in the city in more than a century.

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