China Jails Underground Church Leader for ‘Subversion’

china christians
As part of a major crackdown on Christian churches and human rights groups, Chinese authorities have jailed prominent Christian church leader Hu Shigen, sentencing him to seven and a half years in prison. According to Chinese state media, Hu pleaded guilty to “damaging national security and harming social stability” on Wednesday, though observers claim that the trial has “almost zero credibility.” An elder of an “unregistered” Protestant church in Beijing, Hu is to be deprived of political rights for five years, along with his prison sentence. In a trial that lasted several hours, Hu allegedly confessed to being deeply connected to “foreign anti-China forces.” Hu’s friends said his confession was probably coerced. Xinhua, the state-run news agency, reported that Hu had used unauthorized religious groups to “spread subversive thoughts and ideas.” According to the UK Foreign Office, unapproved Christian churches are facing a period of “sustained pressure” from Beijing. In 2014, the government began an operation to remove or demolish crosses placed atop Christian churches throughout the country, euphemistically titled a “beautification” program. The focus of the campaign has been the city of Wenzhou, in the Zhejiang province, where authorities have already removed more than 2,000 church crosses in the Communist Party’s crusade