Chinese authorities harassed Christian fishermen by forcibly removing crosses from 90 fishing boats last July.
The Christian Headlines said the Chinese officials did not allow the Christian fishermen to leave the dock at Qushan Island in Zhejiang province until they have removed the crosses from their boats last July 28. The report highlighted that there were 130 fishing boats owned by Christians and 40 were unaffected by the incident.
Qushan Island is said to be composed by a 50% population of Christians and fishermen are accustomed to decorate their boats with symbols of the faith such as crosses. Some also put the name "Emmanuel" so that they can fish with "a sense of peace, hope, and protection."
"(If) the cross is not removed, we will not give you authorization, not allow you to pump gas, and not allow you to depart," the government officials were quoted in saying to the fishermen.
The International Christian Concern (ICC) added that the fishermen responded by asking the basis of commanding that the crosses be removed from their boats but the authorities could not provide any. Nonetheless, the said authorities persisted in their demand and removed the crosses themselves after forcibly boarding the boats. The authorities also removed the name "Emmanuel" from the boats by painting over it.
The authorities particularly targeted Christians since other boats that bore the symbolism and names of other religions were not asked nor forced to be removed by the local Chinese officials. ICC pointed out that the Christian fishermen had no one to report the matter to except online where they raised the violation of their religious freedom.
"The fishermen had nowhere to turn to, so they shared their anger online. They accuse the government of being unreasonable, since these vessels are personal property, and the installation of cross is an individual's freedom," ICC said.
ICC also cited one fisherman pointing out that such religious freedom is indicated in their Constitution but never executed by the Chinese government.
"Although the freedom of religious belief is enshrined in the Constitution, it is in reality an empty promise, (the government) never executes it according to the law," ICC quoted the fisherman in saying.
In line with this report, the Christian Headlines said the Chinese government previously forced Christians to remove from WeChat any accounts owned by Christians along with removing all Bible apps from the app store.
The Chinese Christian Fellowship of Righteousness' Pastor Francis Liu tweeted last May on Christian WeChat pages being shut down by the Chinese Communist Party in its effort to extinguish the religion from their shores. Liu reported that "Gospel League" and "Life Quarterly" were among those removed.
China's government is bent to replace Christianity with Communism. In the same month, they ordered the bookstore of the Sha Mian Tang Church to sell the "Little Red Book" of Mao Zedong and "The Governance of China" of CCP General Secretary and Chinese president Xi Jinping instead of the Bible.