fredag 3. januar 2020

Prison Sentence for Pastor Shows China Feels Threatened by Spread of Christianity, Experts Say

Wang Yi was waiting for his arrest. Months before authorities swept into his church in the city of Chengdu in December 2018 and detained him, the outspoken pastor had prepared a six-page, handwritten statement denying the allegations he was sure the Chinese Communist Party would make against him for his work at one of China’s best-known underground churches.

In the end, the Chinese government didn’t even bother making a public case against him. On Monday, Wang was sentenced to nine years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power” and “illegal business activities” following closed-door proceedings. The pastor, who is the founder of Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu will also be “stripped of political rights” for three years and have approximately $7,200 of his assets seized, according to a government statement.

Wang is a well-known Christian leader and was invited to the White House in 2006 by George W. Bush to discuss religious freedom in China. The U.S. was quick to denounce the prison sentence this week. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticized the verdict and called for his release: “I am alarmed that Pastor Wang Yi, leader of Chengdu’s Early Rain house church, was tried in secret and sentenced to nine years in prison on trumped-up charges.”