A report from Radio Free Asia said hundreds of state security police and officials from Xiamen's religious affairs bureau raided a gathering of the unofficial Xingguang Church on Sunday, May 3.
At 9:00 a.m., dozens of security guards and officers from the local Ethnic and Religious Bureau descended on Xingguang Church in Jimei district, as the members sang worship songs. Without any legal documentation, the authorities interrupted the service, calling the gathering "illegal."
Several members were injured during the process as the police wrestled them to the ground and dragged them across the floor. One church member was reported to have sustained several significant injuries, including two fractured ribs.
During the course of the raid, police officers confiscated mobile phones and broke a window and door lock as they forced entry into the church building. Congregants began chanting "illegal!" as the officials started to detain worshippers.
"The state security police came banging at the door, then they kicked it down and dragged those in the way outside the doorway," the RFA quoted Pastor Yang Xibo.
Pastor Yang Xibo told RFA that members met in a private residence at the time of the raid, and that the police had broken in without warrant or any ID or documentation.
Six men were detained after the raid and were only released after 12 hours. Upon their release, other church members welcomed them with applause and hugs.
An eyewitness said that church members had received no warnings.
"They didn't say anything or show any documentation, but they just nailed a man and a woman to the ground, pinning them by the chest and legs using their knees. "
One of the Xiamen church member who refused to be named said it should be illegal for authorities to enter private residential property and hold people.
"We would like all of society to pay attention to this violent behavior, "said the church member." They are lawless and blinded. "
Local Christians also reported that police raided several other unregistered churches in Xiamen on the same day, sometimes violently.
Many pastors refuse to join the state-mandated denomination, knowing that they will be expected to tailor their services towards the worship of communism and the idolization of President Xi Jinping.
Gina Goh, ICC's regional manager for Southeast Asia, said China has clearly resumed its crackdown on Christianity now that the threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic has reduced.
"In recent weeks, we have seen an increased number of church demolitions and cross removals on state-sanctioned churches across China, as house church gatherings continue to face interruption and harassment. It is deplorable that the local authorities not only conducted this raid without proper procedure, but deployed excessive use of force against church members and bystanders," she said. "ICC calls on the international community and the US government to condemn China's constant human rights abuses."
China is home to an estimated 68 million Protestants, of whom 23 million worship in state-affiliated churches, and some nine million Catholics, 5.7 million of whom are in state-aligned organizations.