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Hundreds of Christians in the Chinese city of Wenzhou—which is known as “the Jerusalem of the East” for its large religious population—are mounting a round-the-clock human shield at a church to protect it from being bulldozed by Communist government officials. In red paint, the government, which is officially atheist, wrote the words “Illegal construction" and “demolish” on the outside of the new $4.8 million church last week. Since then, droves of Christians have stationed themselves at the church and are refusing to move. According to The Telegraph:

By day, Christians from around the province crowd the church's steps, with undercover security agents mingling among them, snapping photos and eavesdropping. By night, hundreds of worshippers take it in turns to keep watch, grabbing a few hours of sleep on cramped wooden pews between shifts.

Though the Chinese government has long taken issue with underground Christian communities that refuse to comply with state rules, the church in Wenzhou is actually a part of the officially sanctioned Protestant denomination. A local government representative told a Telegraph reporter that the multi-million dollar structure—which took six years to build—was “structurally unsound”. According to the paper though, the massive and influential Christian church has drawn the ire of local Communist officials. In the province of Zhejiang (which has seven million residents) where Wenzhou is located, nearly 15% of the population is church-going Christians ... Discuss

 

Here are some amazing images of China’s ice city, created as part of the annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. Temperatures in the area drop as low as -36 degrees in the winter, but that won’t stop nearly 1 million visitors from touring the 6.5 million square foot frozen city made entirely from ice and LED lights. The attraction features ice-sculpted replicas of famous buildings from around the world including the Empire State Building and Iceland’s Hallgrimskirkja church ... Discuss

 

This week in China, people from around the country are gathering to celebrate the birth of a revered figure, and some will even bow to worship him. This person is of course, Chairman Mao. The Telegraph has posted this interesting and somewhat disturbing feature—titled “In China, Chairman Mao still bigger than Jesus”—about the cult of Mao that still enraptures much of China. Today, on Mao’s 120th birthday, hundreds of thousands will descend on Mao’s home village to celebrate the controversial communist leader’s legacy. There, the day is a really big deal. Lines of the article like: “A train of 120 camels, like modern-day Magi, trekked a thousand miles from the deserts of Inner Mongolia to the village as a publicity stunt” and “The managers of the hall thoughtfully placed three cushions on the floor [around the gold, $20 million Mao statue], embroidered with lotus flowers, for people to fall to their knees,” also show that more than just a day of national remembrance, in some parts of the country, the legacy of Mao has almost turned into a religion itself ... Discuss

 
How Bob Fu, “God’s Double Agent,” is working toward religious freedom in China Read More
 

A few weeks ago, Chinese officials made international headlines when they announced that they would formally end the policy of “re-education through labor”, which force inmates to work long hours in factories under terrible conditions. But according to this report, many of the forced labor camps will remain open, and simply change their name to drug rehab centers. Though many inmates—whose crimes range from petitioning the government to being a part of banned religious groups—have been freed since the announcement, tens of thousands of drug offenders remained subject to forced labor. Most of them, have never received a trial. Human Rights Watch estimated that this year, about 60 percent of prisoners within China’s labor camp system were there because of crimes related to drugs. And though the prisons do technically have drug detox programs, the inmates are still forced to work in factories for up to 15 hours a day making products, some which are bound for the United States ... Discuss

 

Following a four-day long meeting of some of the nation’s top officials, China has released a document outlining a series of major reforms that will soon be taking place throughout the country. Along with a move to transition to a more free-market base economy and the enforcement of tighter environmental standards, the reforms also include several major changes to social issues including the highly controversial one-child policy and the use of forced-labor camps. As part of the proposals, China would significantly ease its one-child policy—that frequently resulted in forced abortions and sterilizations (even though the practices were technically illegal)—and will now allow couples to have two children.

The document also said that China would end the practice of “education through labor.” The nation had faced international criticism over its policy that allowed law enforcement officials to put citizens into labor camp prisons without a trial. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal though, the reforms aren’t expected to happen overnight. “The test now for [President] Xi and China's leaders will be how to implement many of its goals, including whether they will be introduced in coming months or will be introduced more gradually” … Discuss