A Protestant church was demolished by the Chinese regime in the eastern city of Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province in China. The city is also called “Jerusalem of the East” because of its large Christian community.
During weeks Christians from Wenzhou increased their presence and protest in the Sanjiang church after its demolition was announced, but they couldn’t prevent the massive building to be razed to the ground.
According to the Epoch Times, the buildings in Zhejiang Province may be but the first casualties in an all-out war against churches, and perhaps ultimately, all religious buildings in China, under the provisions of urban renewal and economic development campaigns.
A campaign against religions
Xia Baolong, the Communist Party secretary of Zhejiang Province, pointing at a cross on a church in the small town of Baiquan, he is reported to have announced that it was “too conspicuous and splashy.” It was therefore to be “rectified,” he said. The cross was ripped down and a smaller one placed on the wall.
Xia’s peremptory remarks, which continued during the inspection tour, seem to have cascaded into a wave of church demolitions across the province recently, under vague provisions of economic development and urban renewal.
The assault on the Sanjiang Church is just one part of a campaign that crosses Zhejiang Province and beyond.
Wenzhou’s Christian population, about 15 percent of Wenzhou’s 9 million citizens is a potentially concerning term for the militantly atheist Communist Party. Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life projects that China will have around 160 million adherents by 2025.
These developments are apparently of great concern to Party Secretary Xia Baolong, who complained about the infiltration of “Western hostile forces” (the Christian churches) trying to drive a wedge between Party cadres, in an interview with Xinhua, the state mouthpiece, on Feb. 17.
The popularity of religious groups has long been a cause of anxiety to the Party, which launched concerted campaigns against Buddhism and Taoism in the early years of establishing its rule.
Decades later the popularity of qigong practices, and in particular Falun Gong, led to another wave of persecution.
Official Party statements also indicate that the strategy for the demolition of religious structures is related to attempts to develop the land they stand on. The plan is discussed by State Bureau of Religious Affairs Secretary Wang Zuoan, in a statement broadcast by Phoenix Television at the end of 2013, though few details are given.
The local government of Jinhua, a city of Zhejiang, bragged that during one week in March, 549,875.37 square meters of illegal buildings were removed, and that they would implement a “war map” to track progress in the destruction of targeted buildings and neighborhoods.