Prominent Beijing House Church Leader Faces Harsh Sentence
Midland, Texas (CAA)-November 11, 2004
CAA learned a prominent Beijing house church leader will face an extremely harsh sentence if convicted in the upcoming trial. Pastor Cai Zhuohua, a house church leader ministering to six house churches in Beijing will be formally tried in a Beijing court very soon. The 32-year-old pastor was kidnapped by three plain-clothed officers believed to be from the Department of State Security at about 2:00pm on September 11, 2004. According to an eyewitness account, Cai was waiting at a bus stop when three strong men approached him and pushed him into a white van. Cai was returning home following a Bible study session that morning.
Cais wife, Xiao Yunfei, along with her brother, Xiao Gaowen, and sister-in-law, Hu Jinyun, were also arrested September 27 while hiding in Hengshan county, Hunan province. Sources familiar with the case told CAA that pastor Cai and his wife will face an extremely harsh sentence because of their prominent role in the Beijing house church leadership. CAA learned that this case has been handled directly by the Department of State Security. Another source close to the central law enforcement authority revealed to CAA that a two-word handwritten directive Yan Ban (which means - to deal with this case harshly and severely) was issued by Mr. Qiang Wei, deputy General Secretary of Politics and Law Commission of Beijing. And that the central government had already labeled this case the most serious case on overseas religious infiltration since the founding of the Peoples Republic of China.
Its believed the authorities were shocked when they found about 200,000 copies of the Bible and other Christian literature in a storage room managed by pastor Cai. In China, only one publisher belonging to the officially-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement is allowed to publish and print a limited number of Bibles and other Christian literature each year. These publications are forbidden to be sold in the public bookstores. With the rapid growth in the number of Christians every year, Chinese house churches sometimes find printers willing to print a few Bibles for extra cash instead of relying on Bible-smugglers from overseas. Sources close to one of pastor Cais churches said the confiscated Bibles and other Christian literature were solely for internal house church-use and pastor Cai made no profit off them.
Pastor Cai and his wife have one four-year-old son, Cai Yabo, who is now under the care of his grandmother. The prosecution team source told CAA that this case is part of a broader national campaign against the underground church and so-called illegal religious publications that began this past June. The Chinese authority is especially unhappy about a house church quarterly magazine called Love Feast AI YAN (www.AiYan.org) in which pastor Cai has been involved. In several issues in the past, contrary to Chinese official position, it published articles on President Bushs faith and commemorations on Dr. Jonathan Chao, one of the most respected Chinese church historians, who passed away this year.
According to the same source, instead of on religious grounds, the authorities are considering convicting pastor Cai and his wife, along with the other two relatives, on criminal charges such as tax evasion or illegal business management, which could lead to a life sentence. All four arrested are now being held at Qinghe Detention Center, Haidian District, Beijing. So far none of their relatives are allowed to visit them.
All of those who know pastor Cai over the years can testify that he and his wife are wonderful Christians with loving hearts for both the church in China and their motherland, said Bob Fu, CAAs president and a former coworker of pastor Cai. We urge people of all faiths to take action to demand their immediate release.
Letters of protest can be sent to the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC at the following address:
Ambassador Yang Jiechi
Embassy of the Peoples Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC 20008
Tel:(202) 328-2500 Fax:(202) 588-0032
Director of Religious Affairs: (202) 328-2512
Issued by [url=http://www.chinaaid.org/english.htm#Research%20Archive]China Aid Association[/url] Inc. on November 10, 2004.