The sentencing of pastor Wang Yi to nine years in prison this week for “subversion” and “illegal business activities” shows how authorities in China are increasingly intolerant of unregistered churches,sources said.
Pastor Wang of Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu,capital of southwestern China’s Sichuan Province, was sentenced in closed-door proceedings for “inciting subversion of state power,” authorities announcedon Monday (Dec. 30).
As part of his sentence, Pastor Wang will have about $7,200 of his assets seized and be “stripped of political rights” for three years,according to a government statement.
“This is a pure case of unjust religious persecution against a peaceful preacher of a Chinese reformed church,” Bob Fu, president of advocacy organization China Aid Association (CAA), said in a press statement.“This grave sentence demonstrates [President] Xi [Jinping]’s regime is determined to be the enemy of universal values and religious freedom. We call upon the international community to standup to the Chinese Communist Party and hold this evil regime accountable.”
Public security officials have also required many of the church’s members to meet with them five times a day, he added.
Security personnel had arrested Pastor Wang and more than 100 members of his church in a Dec.9, 2018 raid; most of them have been released, while Pastor Wang’s wife and child remain under house arrest.
Early Rain Covenant Church elder Qin Defu was sentenced to four years in prison on Nov. 29, according to China Aid. Qin was charged with illegal business operations as a result of the church using 20,000 Christian books, according to CAA. The convictions of him and Pastor Wang for“illegal business activity” are reportedly related to the church printing and distributing Christian books.