According to reports earlier in April, the same Chinese province that saw Christian churches demolished and crosses forcibly removed by the government is harassing Christians again. This time by installing surveillance cameras.
U.S.-based human rights group China Aid says that churches in Wenzhou (tap for a map) were instructed to install cameras at gates, rostrums, offering boxes and other places. If the churches refuse to comply, government officials will forcibly set up the devices.
Camera installation demanded
China Aid, a U.S.-based religious rights group, said churches were told to install cameras at gates, raised platforms, offering boxes and other places, despite strong opposition from churchgoers who claimed the surveillance infringed their privacy.
The new ruling quickly sparked friction between Christians and the communist government, with one Christian claiming that pastors and worshipers who "didn't agree to the move were dragged away," the South China Morning Post reported.
Cameras installed by force
South China Morning Post quotes an unidentified Christian in Wenzhou saying, “Government officials came to the churches and put up cameras by force. Some pastors and worshipers who didn’t agree to the move were dragged away. Some people needed to be treated in hospital after fighting the officials.”
“We Christians do good deeds and we don’t do anything to endanger the public. I don’t understand why the government wants to monitor us. The government’s pressure on us will not deter us from our beliefs and will not affect the proliferation of our religion. The tougher the persecution, the more people will be encouraged to follow the religion.”
Cameras for "anti-terrorism"
Some maintain that the surveillance requirement does not "single out churches" but covers all public places. "The requirement covers all public places in Ningbo, and does not single out churches," Jin Ke, deputy director of Ningbo's ethnic and religious affairs bureau told state media outlet the Global Times. Officials added that surveillance systems had also been installed at schools and hospitals.
Ever since Xi Jinping took power as Chinese Communist Party General Secretary in 2012, the Party has tightened restrictions on religious practice. Since then, more and more believers are opting out of official, state-sanctioned religious organizations and moving their faith underground.