Chinese authorities have raided several house churches in the Hebei province of Beijing, confiscating church supplies and accusing members of violating religious regulations set by the government.
A recent invasion by the Chinese police took place in several house churches in the Yanjiao town, located in the Hebei province in China's Beijing capital. For five days from January 25 to 29, house churches in Hebei, Beijing were under assault by Chinese police as authorities confiscated materials and accused church members of holding religious activities in "unauthorized venues" and violating local religious regulations and other laws, the International Christian Concern reported.
Pastor Caleb Yang, a house church leader in the area, recalled how Chinese police, the urban management force, and people from the community broke into the church. Thankfully, no one was at the church at the time, but the task force took church items despite having no documents to justify or authorize the confiscation.
Once more on January 29, Chinese police from the Yanjiao police station took to the streets to inspect more house churches in Hebei, Beijing. A local Christian recounted what he witnessed to ChinaAid, saying, "In the afternoon, about seven or eight state security officers came to inspect the church again."
"Regardless of whether or not there was anyone present, [Chinese police] came in and left right after they took our stuff. They were very unreasonable," he said. Another eyewitness said that around the same time, several house churches in Beijing were being raided by Chinese police. As of late, Christians communities in the Yanjiao town and Beijing municipalities have been warned by authorities to stop gathering to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.
In January, the province of Hebei reported over 600 positive cases of COVID-19, 544 of which were from the Shijiazhuang capital city, NPR reported. This caused a lockdown of over 11 million people in the province of Hebei, located 300 kilometers south of Beijing. About 20,000 residents from 12 rural villages in Shijiazhuang's Gaocheng district were also sent to government quarantines in a move to contain the outbreak.
In anticipation of Lunar New Year this month, the Chinese police enforced stricter travel restrictions and quarantine measures in the hopes of containing the virus in time for the holiday.
The uptick in cases in Hebei is the largest the country has seen in over five months and health authorities are criticizing the more lenient regulations on movement and travel. Commuters from Hebei heading to Beijing are now required to present negative COVID test results and proof of employment in Beijing before entering the capital as an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The new lockdown has prevented gatherings across the Hebei province, causing Christians to postpone gatherings in house churches in Hebei and Beijing. According to China Christian Daily, the Beijing Tongzhou Church recently announced on its official WeChat account that they have opened registration for online catechism courses on January 27. These online courses, which will go on for 16 weeks, will be held every 10:30 a.m. on Sundays beginning February 21.