A Chinese Christian bookseller has been sentenced to seven years behind bars.
Chen Yu, from the city of Taizhou, Zhejiang Province, was charged with “illegal business operations” on 27th September and handed the lengthy prison term, along with a 200,000 RMB (£22,700) fine.
International Christian Concern (ICC) reports that in addition to the fine and prison sentence, Chen will also have his iPhone confiscated and the 12,864 Christian books from his shop will be destroyed by the Linhai City Public Security Bureau.
Chen was originally detained after being investigated for selling unapproved religious publications imported from Taiwan, the US, and other countries. China Aid says that the government authorities used the investigation as a wider opportunity to root out so-called “illegal [religious] activities" amongst local communities.
Speaking about the crackdown on Christian materials, a house church pastor from Shenzhen City told persecution watchdog Bitter Winter that "people who buy Christian books are practicing believers, so the government looks into them to determine how dangerous they are to the stability of their regime."
The pastor added that he had personally been summoned for purchasing from a Christian bookstore. “The Communist Party has done too many shameful deeds and continues to suppress people. Our government has a guilty conscience,” he added.
In response to the latest judgement, ICC’s regional manager for Southeast Asia, Gina Goh, said: “The sentence for Mr. Chen Yu shows how the Chinese government is increasingly frightened by all things religious. From religious symbols, Chinese couplets, to Christian books, anything that features religious elements is no longer tolerated by the Chinese Communist Party.
"The disproportionate sentencing of Christians, such as Early Rain Covenant Church pastor Wang Yi and Chen Yu, under the same charge implies that the crackdown against Christianity will only intensify. The US government and international community should continue to stand up to the tyranny in Beijing.”