Beijing lawyer Zhang Kai was taken by police last week for advising Christians. He was in Wenzhou, a city that in many ways the ground zero for the government’s anti-Christian campaign to take down crosses and even whole churches. The NYT has more:
Mr. Zhang was in Wenzhou advising a church when the police took him away last Tuesday, and they have since issued an order that could place him under secretive detention for six months, said Yang Xingquan, a colleague of Mr. Zhang’s from the Xinqiao Law Firm in Beijing. Mr. Yang, who was in Wenzhou looking for Mr. Zhang, cited information from the police and Christians in the city.
The police refused to allow Mr. Yang to see Mr. Zhang, and they did not explain why they had charged him with endangering state security and “assembling a crowd to disrupt social order,” Mr. Yang said. Mr. Yang said he believed that Mr. Zhang’s assistant, Liu Peng, and another legal worker, Fang Xiangui, were also in secretive detention in Wenzhou.
The harsher China’s crackdown on churches (and nonprofits, too), the more nervous you can be sure Chinese officials are feeling. The assault on Christian churches is a component of a wider campaign to solidify national identity and remove foreign influences (the government hopes, it appears, to revive indigenous philosophies and religions like Confucianism to counter the force of Christianity and Islam). This is a way of “battening down the hatches” and shoring up political support even as economic troubles beset the country and opposition to President Xi grows.
For their part, the churches seem to be responding with increasing assertiveness in protesting the government campaign. When you mix economic turbulence with this Christian pushback, you have a recipe for an even harsher crackdown, exactly as appears to be on display in this story. Expect to see more of this.