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World News

Government "concerned" by religious freedom abuses in China

by Desmond Busteed

"We are aware of reports that some church members have been harassed or detained, and that a number of churches in Zhejiang Province in particular have been forced to remove their crosses, close or be destroyed," said foreign office minister, Hugo Swire MP told the House of Commons on Wednesday.

We raised these, and our broad range of concerns around religious freedom, directly with Chinese officials during the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue in April this year," said Mr Swire who was responding to a question by Ian Paisley MP, DUP, who asked what recent discussions he had had with the Chinese government on the promotion of Christianity in China.

Since December 2013, police in Zhejiang have stripped crosses from more than 450 churches, according to ChinaAid, a Texas-based Christian human rights monitor. Police with large cranes have often shown up with no warning.

Last month the local government reportedly ceased tearing down crosses arbitrarily and issued a ban on all crosses on churches through a new religious structures building code, according to The Christion Monitor.

The code stipulates that crosses be removed, reduced in size, and affixed to the side of the edifice in the same color as the building, rendering them hard to see.

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