China officials remove 18 crosses in Zhejiang province


Zhejiang province has again started removing church crosses with authorities taking down 18 so far this year.

At least 13 crosses were removed over the past week as Zhang Kai, a Christian lawyer who helped churches rebuff the campaign, dismissed his colleague in secret detention, apparently under pressure from security officials.

Christians in Zhejiang said it remained unclear whether the new removals "were just crosses that were not removed as scheduled last year or if this is a new round of persecution."

After removing more than 1,500 crosses from Protestant and Catholic churches in Zhejiang since the end of 2013, the campaign appeared to slow by September.

Authorities then began a "five entries and transformations" campaign in an attempt to control content inside churches, including by sending state officials to try to stop people from talking about the cross-removal campaign during Mass.

Among the most critical church leaders was Joseph Gu, chief pastor at the Chongyi Church in Hangzhou, the biggest church in Zhejiang province. After speaking out against the campaign in July, he was officially dismissed in mid-January and is reportedly in a "black jail," a secret holding facility, reported U.S.-based China Aid.

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