GLENSIDE, Pa. (ABP) — Government officials in China have detained a computer technician, Zhang Shengqi, and a church historian, Liu Fenggang, and placed them in jail for posting articles on the Internet in support of the unofficial Chinese Christian church.
The arrests represent a widening crackdown on Chinese nationals who are suspected of ignoring the government's policy against unregistered religious activities, according to a watchdog group. The U.S. State Department consistently has cited China for violations of religious liberty.
According to the China Aid Association, a Pennsylvania-based organization, government officials inside China continually try to repress information about arrests such as that of Shengqi and Fenggang, but an active network of church activists spread the word about such arrests.
The Chinese government permits worship only in tightly controlled state churches. China Aid Association reports that those who meet outside the official church are routinely harassed and fined, and sometimes sent to labor camps.
Though China has promoted the Internet for commercial use, they have given long prison terms to people who send or post messages online that criticize the government or advocate greater political or religious freedoms.