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Govt's special envoy for freedom of religion asked about detained pastor in China

by Cara Bentley

In a series of questions directed at the Foreign Office, Lord Alton of Liverpool, a peer and Christian, asked in the House of Lords on Friday: "what representations they have made to the government of the People's Republic of China following (1) the destruction of crosses and shrines, (2) the closure of Christian churches, and (3) the arrest of pastors, including the detention of Pastor Wang Yi and his wife Jiang Rong of Early Rain Covenant Church, just before Christmas 2018."

In December last year, Chinese police detained 100 members of the Protestant Early Rain Church in Sichuan province, including the Pastor Wang Yi. Later, all apart from twelve were released, with the preacher and his wife Jiang Rong still detained. 

The congregants were charged with 'inciting subversion', a national security charge used frequently against religious leaders. 

David Alton, a former Liberal Democrat MP, was answered on this issue by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Government's special envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief. 

Lord Ahmad said: "We are concerned by the arrest and detention of Pastor Wang Yi and his wife Jiang Rong. We believe the restrictions placed on Christianity and other religions in China, that include individuals being harassed or detained for their beliefs are unacceptable. The freedom to practise, change or share ones faith or belief without discrimination or violent opposition is a human right that all people should enjoy.

"We believe that societies which aim to guarantee freedom of religion or belief are more stable, prosperous and resilient against violent extremism.

"We are robust in raising the full range of our human rights concerns with the Chinese authorities. We raised our concerns over restriction of freedom of religion or belief as part of China's Universal Periodic Review in November 2018, and in our 27 June 2018 statement at the UN Human Rights Council".

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