A church in China is now without a building after authorities secretly demolished it at night.
According to Christian persecution watchdog, China Aid, Ruin County government in Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province, forcibly wrecked Nangang Church in Nangang Village on Wednesday in order to build commercial buildings.
Videos circulating on the internet show dozens of fully-armed masked police standing with in the rain as they confront Christians and proceed with the demolition. The church, which covered an area of eight acres and was valued at millions pounds, was ordered to be demolished at night without an agreed compensation plan.
One video shows a young Christian woman calmly questioning the demolition team.
"I want to ask which construction unit you are from. Why are you covering your face? she asked.
“Why isn’t anyone telling me which construction unit you are from? Why are you choosing to come here at nine o’clock in the evening? Why are you choosing to start the demolition at this time, and you are not telling me which unit you belong to? Just now when I was about to go in, you pushed me and beat me," she said.
Another video shows police surrounding church members who had come to stop the demolition and engaging in a physical confrontation with them.
The demolition continued into the next day, with cranes continuing to work for several hours and the church ultimately being reduced to rubble.
According to Zhang Chongzhu, the former pastor of Pingyang County in Wenzhou City, the land on which the church stood was originally coastal land. The government had assigned the building to the Christians, who had used to live in an old church in the town.
However, as Ruian's economy rapidly developed, the land was reclassified as a central zone and commercial buildings were planned to be built there. The government negotiated with the church to move, but the price they offered was significantly less than the market value, leading to the failed negotiation and eventual forced demolition.
According to China Aid, Wenzhou City is one of the cities with the densest concentration of Christians in China, with over one million Christians and more than a thousand officially registered churches. From 2014 to 2016, the government ordered the demolition of crosses in churches across the province, with over 1,000 crosses removed in just two years. Many Christians strongly resisted this persecution, with leaders such as Pastor Gu Yuese, then president of the Zhejiang Christian Association, issuing public statements against the demolitions.