A Christian church elder in China who was supposed to be released was criminally transferred to another location and detained further without any explanation, a report says. His relatives were refused any information on his detention.
Christian elder Zhang Chunlei who preached at the Guiyang Ren'ai Reformed Church was set to be released from administrative detention on March 28 when he was transferred to a criminal detention for reasons unknown. Chinese authorities refused to shed light on his transfer, telling his wife, Yang Aiqing that her husband was transferred to a criminal detention the previous night.
According to ChinaAid, Yang visited the detention center to unite with her husband the Chinese church elder when she was informed that he was no longer in the premises because he was transferred to another facility. They did not disclose to her the reason for his transfer.
Zhang and several Christian members of the Guiyang Ren'ai Reformed Church were arrested on March 16 during a peaceful Bible study at a hotel room in Wenzhou. Chinese police suddenly appeared, accused them of "illegal assembly," and proceeded to check everyone's identification and mobile phones, with officials taking notes of the interrogation. The captured Christians were then taken to the police station located on Yan'an Road.
Elder Zhang was escorted to the police station at about 5 p.m., where he was interrogated, pushed to the ground, and detained. The following day, Chinese police raided his home and confiscated the Chinese Church elder's computer, mobile phone, and other valuables. They also told his wife Yang that he will need to complete a 14-day administrative detention. The Chinese authorities later gave notice that he will be detained for 11 days instead. Elder Zhang had previously mentioned that he was unafraid of paying the price for his devout Christian faith.
Other members of the Ren'ai Reformed Church who were taken include Chen Jianguo, Li Jinzhi and Li Lin, who each had to complete administrative detention lasting for three days.
According to International Christian Concern, Elder Zhang is now criminally detained without any information as to which charges he faces and how long his detention will be. Guiyang, in the southwest Guizhou region of China, had become a "pilot city" for Chinese police to crack down on Christian house churches. Back in 2017, a Christian pastor by the name of Yang Hua was accused by the Chinese police of "divulging state secrets" and was sentenced to 30 months in prison. His wife, Wang Hongwu said that her husband's unwavering faith remains strong despite facing persecution in the hands of the Chinese police.
Last week, another Chinese city was the subject of increased Christian persecution in the hands of authorities. Xiamen City police had enlisted the help of locals to help track down "illegal religious activities," which is what they label gatherings of Christians who did not register as a state-sanctioned church in China. Chinese authorities ordered locals to actively "inspect privately set up gathering places" in their campaign to quash these Christian house churches, which began over two years ago.