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Hong Kong Protestant newspaper criticized for cross-removal coverage

Paper has published no original coverage, says Anglican pastor
Hong Kong Protestant newspaper criticized for cross-removal coverage

This April 2014 photo shows a damaged Christian church in Zhejiang province. Chinese authorities began demolishing the Church after a weeks-long standoff between worshippers and the local government. (Photo by Mark Ralston/AFP)

Published: September 09, 2015 09:19 AM GMT
Updated: September 08, 2015 11:40 PM GMT

A Hong Kong-based newspaper published by Protestant churches has come under fire for its coverage of an ongoing cross-removal campaign in mainland China.

The Christian Weekly, which is run by the Hong Kong Chinese Christian Churches Union, has published two statements issued by Protestant organizations and a pastor’s commentary, all in late August. But the newspaper has published no original coverage of the cross removals taking place in Zhejiang province, according to an online appeal addressed to the union.

"It’s really disappointing," the Rev. Fung Chi-wood, an Anglican pastor who initiated the appeal, told ucanews.com in an interview.

"Hong Kong is part of China and there are a lot of religious exchanges between the two sides. It is impossible not to show some concern," he said.

Since late 2013, authorities in Zhejiang province have removed more than 1,200 crosses from churches — both Catholic and Protestant. Pastors and lawyers have been beaten, detained or arrested as part of the campaign.

"We are not asking [the newspaper] to make an appeal," Rev. Fung said. "But this is one of the most severe persecutions in China. Couldn't it have a simple report on it?"

Rev. Fung estimated that a small minority of Christians in Hong Kong monitor the Zhejiang cross-removal issue closely. He said many Christians in Hong Kong often consider what happens to mainland churches to be a "political issue" — a shortsighted mistake.

"I am worried the cross-removal campaign will spread across China," said Rev. Fung, who has also organized a series of protests outside the government’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong. "I hoped that the appeal and the protests could arouse more concern from local Christians."

His appeal has garnered more than 260 supporters since it was posted online on Sept. 7.

The Hong Kong Chinese Christian Churches Union did not respond to ucanews.com's requests for comments before publication of this story.

The union was formed in 1915 by seven major denominations, including the Anglican Church, the Methodist Church and the Baptist Church. It has 366 member denominations representing more than 300,000 local Christians, accounting for almost one-third of Hong Kong’s Protestant population of 870,000.

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