Officials in Shaanxi province have demolished two church buildings in the last fortnight.
Local authorities in Zhifang village in Lauyu district, demolished a church on 27 December 2017, after claiming that it was built on illegally occupied land. Almost 100 local Christians protested the action, some chanting: “Freedom of belief,” while official documents proving that the church – built in 1999 – had approval to use the land were posted on social media. Authorities subsequently sent officials to apologise and discuss compensation.
On Tuesday 9 January (after officials had apologised for destroying the church in Zhifang), authorities used dynamite to demolish a large church in the city of Linfen, also in Shaanxi province. They had previously claimed the church violated building codes. Officials initially denied that the demolition had taken place, while police present during the event pressured witnesses to remain silent.
Since Xi Jinping became president of China in 2013, there has been an increase in persecution of Christians. Churches have been demolished in areas and Communist Party officials have been “encouraging” Christians to replace Christian posters in their homes with portraits of the president.